French teammates Noic Garioud & Melanie Lafenetre win first gold medals
Relay success for France solidifies victory
Spain wins team silver medals, Japan take bronze, Italy copper
Les Sables d’Olonne, France – October 1, 2023
Thousands of spectators packed the boardwalk and beach on a stunning Sunday at Les Sables d’Olonne’s La Grande Plage to watch the home nation of France win their third consecutive Team Gold Medal at the 2023 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship (WSUPPC).
Heading into the day Spain had a good hold on the rankings, but the situation changed as two first-time gold medalists, French teammates Melanie Lafenetre and Noic Garioud, pushed themselves to their limits in the SUP Sprint Races to stand atop the podium and deliver victory to the home nation.
Mariecarmen Rivera (PUR) took a significant early lead in the Women’s SUP Sprint Final, the 2022 bronze medalist looking strong the whole 100m out to the buoy turn, where Lafenetre gained ground. Rivera took the right buoy turn, Lafenetre the left, before the two came neck-and-neck all the way back into the sand, a fall from Rivera on the dismount likely costing her the win as the Frenchwoman raced ahead to claim gold, less than half-a-second ahead of the Puerto Rican.
2018 World Champion Tarryn King (RSA) and two-time Junior SUP Technical Race World Champion Cecilia Pampinella (ITA) were also locked in a tight race, with the South African edging ahead to win bronze, Pampinella equalling her copper medal performance from 2022.
It was Lafenetre’s first gold medal, and her first SUP Sprint medal, after two previous silver and bronze medals in different divisions.
“I’m so happy,” Lafenetre said. “I could understand all of the French people saying to me, ‘Go, go go!’ It’s super important for me to win here in France.”