SUP Technical Racing Takes Centerstage at 2023 ISA World SUP & Paddleboard Championship

September 28th, 2023

Japan and France finish first and second in both Men’s Semifinals

Melanie Lafenetre (FRA) and Esperanza Barreras (ESP) set the pace for the women

Thrilling start to ISA competition for Belgium’s Kjell de Bruyn

Les Sables d’Olonne, France – September 28, 2023

The racing divisions of the 2023 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship (WSUPPC) began today at Les Sables d’Olonne’s beautiful La Grande Plage, with the semifinals of the SUP Technical Races completed for men and women.

Appropriately, the conditions provided great technicality, a cross-shore wind, three-to-four foot of swell and a strong current adding in challenging elements for each of the athletes.

The first men’s Semifinal was entirely a one-sided affair. 2022 World Champion Shuri Araki (JPN) broke away from the pack early in the first lap and gained a strong lead, which he never let up, his 33 minutes, 5 seconds finish easily the fastest of the day, over 30 seconds ahead of 2019 World Champion Titouan Puyo (FRA) in second, while 2019 Pan Am Games Bronze Medalist Itzel Delgado (PER) had a close finish for third place ahead of two-time SUP Distance Race World Champion Michael Booth (AUS) in fourth.

Noic Garioud (FRA), found an early lead in the second Semifinal, but had tough competition throughout with Rai Taguchi (JPN) hot on his heels, the two trading positions consistently throughout the duration of the 4.5km course. Taguchi managed the lead for the final stretch, finishing with a time of 35 minutes, 32 seconds, which was 24 seconds ahead of Garioud, to give Japan and France first and second positions in both Men’s Semifinals.

As the 2022 Silver Medalist, Garioud is hopeful to go one better on French soil, however the layout of the course is proving to complicate things due to a pre-existing injury.

“I’m definitely happy to make it to the finals,” Garioud said. “There are strong conditions, good wind, strong waves too and a lot of running, so that’s a bad part for me because I got a knee injury a year ago, so I haven’t run for a long time now and the running part is really difficult for my body, but the paddling feels ok, so we’ll see for tomorrow.”

Melanie Lafenetre, Team France. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

2022 SUP Sprint Race Bronze Medalist Maricarmen Rivera (PUR) found an initial advantage in the first women’s Semifinal, but as the race progressed, it was Alba Frey (ESP) and 2022 Bronze Medalist Melanie Lafenetre (FRA) who were able to distance themselves from the rest of the field and trade the lead. A fall from Lafenetre saw Cecilia Pampinella (ITA) temporarily take over second position, but by the third lap, the Frenchwoman had cemented her lead to win the heat less than 12 seconds ahead of Frey. After a great performance, Anna Tschirky (SUI) finished a more distant third, Pampinella fourth, Rivera fifth.

“I’m hoping for gold medals here in France and feeling confident after my win in the first heat,” Lafenetre said. “I love the Technical Race, especially when there are waves, and today we are lucky to have waves. I’m really happy with this format and these conditions.”

The second women’s Semifinal featured the tightest finish of the day, with the top three keeping pace throughout each of the three laps and each finishing within 30 seconds of each other. Esperanza Barreras (ESP) led for most of the duration and took the win, though her navigation of the shorebreak set her back into 4th at the end of the first lap, before quickly regaining the lead. France’s Iona Rivet finished second, with 2018 SUP Sprint Race Gold Medalist Tarryn King (RSA) in third.

One of the tightest battles of the day was for the final two advancing positions in Men’s Semifinal 1. Paolo Marconi (ITA), Ricardo Ávila (PUR) and Kjell de Bruyn (BEL) arrived on the beach within seconds of each other, only two of three able to progress.

The significantly low tide made for a long run up the beach and it was neck-and-neck right up to the finish line. De Bruyn managed to edge ahead and claim 10th place, Marconi 11th, while Ávila was eliminated. The 30-year-old, six-time Belgian National Champion has experienced a difficult year of injury and is thrilled to be the first to represent his country in the ISA WSUPPC.

“It’s been a very emotional experience actually,” de Bruyn said. “When I was young, I was racing in Bic Techno 293, I’ve been to two World Championships, but just being on the line with the best in the world, it’s really an experience to never forget.

“Talking about the year, I broke my shoulder and I broke some ribs and a bone in my hand,” de Bruyn continued. “Coming back was pretty tough, I worked hard for it, but being here all makes it worth it.”

Competition will continue tomorrow at La Grande Plage at 10:00 am CEST with the Junior Boys SUP Technical Race Final.

Kjell de Bruyn, Team Belgium. Photo: ISA / Jersson Barboza

Your cart

No products in the cart.