6 Jan 2020

Cup stacking – the competitive sport you’ve never heard of

1:29 pm on 6 January 2020

New Zealand has a good record in the global sport of cup stacking. Record holder Caleb Arthur believes the Black Stacks have a good shot at medals at the Cup Stacking World Champs in April.

It sounds like a simple sport - cup stacking.

But could you stack and then unstack a dozen cups in a pattern in, say, two seconds?

At least eight people are expected to don the Black Stacks uniform and represent New Zealand at the World Sport Stacking Championships in Singapore in April.

One of those selected in the squad is Caleb Arthur, from Marton, who holds several New Zealand records.

Arthur said New Zealand has quite a knack for cup stacking, which is done at speed and in patterns.

"Cup stacking is using 12 specially designed cups to stack in certain sequences."

One could a be a 3-6-3 design, with three cups in one stack, six in the middle and then another three. "You upstack each one in sequence and then return to the start and downstack them."

Arthur learned it through a friend.

"I've been doing it for about 11 or 12 years. My friend from Rotorua taught me how to do it and I got hooked and I haven't been able to stop since.

"You just learn it offline or learn it through friends and you can go to competitions."

So is it speed or precision that counts?

"Bit of both actually, you are trying to beat your own personal records as well as national and international and regional records. You do that in competitions; there are four around New Zealand in 2020.

"That is an opportunity for New Zealand stackers to get personal records as well as national, regional and international records."

How fast is a game? A 3-6-3 stack could be over in a matter of seconds.

"I've got the New Zealand record at the moment," said Arthur. "I was at a competition and it has to be videoed and sent to America to be verified. You have two warm ups and then three tries. It is pretty stressful, but I got it and got the record."

Then there is team cup stacking. It involves a relay of four people; the first does the initial stack, then runs back into line and the next person does a stack until the whole team is through.

"There is also doubles where each person does one hand each for the cycle."

In New Zealand, there have been as many as 250 competitive stackers but the number has dwindled to about 30 to 40.

"We are trying to up those numbers at the moment."

Arthur, who has been to four world championships (two in Germany, 2012 and 2016, and two in the US, 2014 and 2018), said each stacker needs to raise around $5000 to go and sponsorship is hard to come by.

"The world championships are quite stressful, I suppose. You are on a world stage and trying to beat not just your own country's records but other country's. It is exhilarating."

But he reckoned come April in Singapore, New Zealand's cup stackers, known as the Black Stacks, have a chance at coming home with medals.

"We have a very good chance at getting lots of medals at the Worlds. New Zealand usually comes home with a good haul."