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.”