On October 13, 2018, around 200 paddlers came out to Enoshima East Beach for the 7th annual All Japan SUP Championship following local selection races. SIC athlete Rai Taguchi, along with SIC riders Shou Kikukwa, Natusmi Baba, and Rika Okuaki, were ready for a big weekend of racing.
The first day was the 15km long distance race which was in tough conditions with little waves on the course. Athletes had to paddle challenging upwind, side wind, and downwind legs with a difficult tide and waves. Despite these tough conditions, 15-year-old SIC team rider Rai Taguchi had a strong performance riding the RS 12'6.
Rai Taguchi was flying on the course, but was still approximately 200m behind fellow racer Kenny Kaneko, who was leading the pack. After rounding the second-to-last buoy, Kenny went for the wrong buoy giving Rai the chance to take advantage of the mistake and move into the lead heading towards the correct buoy. Rai finished in first followed by Kenny, however due to the fact that the other buoy had been placed incorrectly on the course and was a distraction, the event organizers ultimately decided to award Rai and Kenny first place together.
Other SIC rider Shou Kikukwa came 5th in men's division, his best result to date. On the women's side, Rika Okuaki came in 3rd and Natusmi Baba came in 4th, both excellent results.
The second day was all about the technical races. After a bit of a slow start, Rai put down the hammer and was able to pass 10 paddlers to get into the 2nd place position. With his 2nd place finish in the Technicals and 1st place finish in the Distance, Rai ended up taking 2nd place overall at the All Japan SUP Championship.
On the women's side, Rika Okuaki and Natsumi Baba had incredible performances and took 1st and 2nd respectively.
Check out more photos from the event below! All photos by Nommy-465
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