And The Winner Is… Nicaragua; Venue For 2014 ISA World SUP Champs Officially Announced

2014 ISA World Stand Up Paddle & Paddleboard ChampionshipThe International Surfing Association (ISA) has just announced the location for the 2014 World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship… Nicaragua.

After the first two editions of this event were held in Peru, we’re heading back to Latin America again next year for the third instalment. The announcement was made today and although dates aren’t confirmed, we can expect the event to run in late February.

There’s been a lot of guessing about where the 2014 Worlds will be held, but the speculation was put to rest today at the ISA’s World Junior Surfing Champs closing ceremony. The event has been running all week in Nicaragua and as he wrapped up the festivities, ISA President Fernando Aguerre told the crowd that they’d be coming back next year for the World Stand Up Paddle & Paddleboard Championship.

No word on specific dates, but it’ll most likely happen in late February/early March. The 2013 WSUPPC ran from Sunday 24th February – Saturday 2nd March, so if next year’s event falls in the same week then the dates would be 23rd February – 1st March.

The 2013 ISA World Paddleboard Championship was an amazing event, especially on the SUP racing side of the competition. Despite a few names missing, the action was intense and the finish of every single race came right down to the wire. The event definitely didn’t lack excitement and at one point I was convinced Fernando Aguerre had written the script himself…

Jamie Mitchell wins Gold ahead of Casper Steinfath

Despite a few big names missing, the 2013 ISA World Champs produced plenty of memorable moments…

So where exactly will the 2014 ISA World Stand Up Champs be held?

Again, details are pretty slim right now, but the World Junior Champs were held this week in the municipality of Tola, at “Playa Jiquiliste” on the South-West coast of the country. This region apparently has very consistent waves, which would suit the SUP surfing side of the event quite well. However it’s not clear whether the SUP and prone races would be held in the ocean or in the flat waters of “Lake Nicaragua” (which is 20km inland).

The 2013 Worlds had very consistent waves but they were almost too good for the racing side of the competition; the women’s technical SUP race was postponed due to large surf and even quite a few of the men struggled to handle the conditions. It’s easy for the Aussies and other elite nations, but many countries train solely in the flat water and simply aren’t used to sizeable waves. My guess is they’ll aim to hold the races in the ocean, but if the surf is too big and consistent then Lake Nicaragua will be used as a safe backup venue.

There were two dozen nations represented at the ISA World SUP Championship this year, up from 17 in 2012, so it’ll be interesting to see which nations send a squad next year. The 2014 ISA World Champs may also prove critical for the overall reputation of this event…

The ISA is officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee and is working very hard behind the scenes to get our sport into the Summer Games. So this event, more than any other, has the potential to help lift Stand Up Paddling to another level entirely.

However the 2012 and 2013 competitions lacked several big names and a couple of big nations, with Hawaii yet to send a team and the 2013 US squad a mere skeleton of their potential strength. That’s left it for Australia to dominate so far, with the Aussies claiming both editions of the SUP World Champs in fairly convincing fashion. But for the sake of the event, and the sport of SUP in general, the ISA Worlds need the best nations and biggest names competing.

ISA World Champs

The 2013 ISA Worlds were held in Miraflores, Peru

Though on the other hand, it’s not entirely up to the ISA to get the teams there; it’s largely up to the individual nations themselves. The Hawaiians have worked on getting a team to the event both times now, but, disappointingly, have come up short at the last minute on both occasions. Likewise the Americans could only muster a skeleton crew this year, though they’ve already taken steps (i.e. the creation of the U.S. SUP Tour) to ensure a stronger squad will be present in 2014.

After the first two World SUP Championships were held in Peru, this announcement will probably also bring some criticism along the lines of “the ISA loves Latin America”. It’s true that the majority of ISA events are held on the continent, but it’s also true that these Latin American nations are the ones that constantly come up with the money and organisation to pull off such events.

There were rumours of South Africa, Australia, the UAE and China being considered, but we can be fairly confident that the ISA would have chosen the country that had the financial and logistical ability to best pull off an event of this size.

So there you go, we’re heading back to Latin America in eight months time for the 2014 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship.

We’re off to Nicaragua. Epic!

I’ve never been, and I’m guessing most Stand Up Paddlers out there haven’t been either. But if the 2013 ISA Worlds in Peru were anything to go by, this is going to be a fun event… So start brushing up on your Spanish and get training, the countdown to Nicaragua begins now.

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