The 2016 EuroTour lineup has been finalised, with one new race being added to the original baker’s dozen that was announced in January. All up there are now 14 races in 14 weeks across 10 countries, along with $87,000 in combined prize money that many of the world’s best paddlers will be fighting for.
The 2016 EuroTour, presented by Starboard, kicks off in Portugal in early May, then stretches across the entire continent from France to Finland, Portugal to Poreč and plenty of other awesome summer destinations in between, before wrapping up in the UK in early August.
The new addition is in Greece (the On Board Festival), which slots in at week 9 after the St Ives Celtic Cup in the south of England was switched to the final round.
While every race on the EuroTour adds something to the stand up paddling scene in Europe, the “headline acts” will clearly be Weeks 3, 4 and 5, with the classic SUP Race Cup in St. Maxime, the big Lost Mills in Germany and the Bilbao Paddle Challenge in the Basque Country of Spain set to attract a healthy chunk of the world’s best alongside Europe’s finest.
I’ve been talking schedules with most of the top ranked athletes over the past few weeks, and it sounds like the Lost Mills will, once again, be one of the most competitive races in the world, while St. Maxime and Bilbao won’t be too far behind. This trio of events will also go a long way to determining the overall standings on the Euro Tour Leaderboard.
EuroTour 2016 has a total pot of €76,000 ($87,000) up for grabs, however prize money isn’t what the EuroTour is really about. This tour is about growing the local paddling communities, while also giving the elite athletes a legit series of competitive contests to test themselves and give their sponsors some exposure. It’s also about bringing some much needed unity to the fantastic but very fragmented race scene in Euro land; There’s always been plenty of great standalone events, but until now we’ve been missing a solid line to connects the dots.
The EuroTour crew, led by the nomadic Spanish veteran Belar Diaz, don’t actually organise any of the events, instead they simply provide a common platform to help elevate each race. This is the second official year of the EuroTour, however the series has its roots way back in the early days of the European SUP racing scene, when there was always a loose collection of great regional events in the powerhouse nations of France, Germany and Spain.
Outside of the racing, one of the coolest features of the EuroTour is the official board trailer, which will ferry athletes’ race boards all the way around Europe free of charge. Dozens of 14′ race boards will be stacked on the trailer after each race and driven to the start line of the next event, no matter how near or far that might be. I spoke with tour manager Belar and he predicted the trailer would cover 22,000kms (13,600 miles) over the three months. To say that’s going to solve a few headaches for the paddlers would be a massive understatement (ever tried flying with a race board?).
To make things even easier for the paddlers, all of the EuroTour races are on a unified board class (14′ for both men and women) which saves the athletes from having to drag two boards around Europe.
But while the EuroTour is primarily about racing, it’s also got one very special feature that makes it truly unique in the world of stand up paddling: The EuroTour is your chance to have an awesome summer holiday in Europe.
From the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca to the iconic French Riviera to the wild lakes of Finland to the golden beaches of Italy and Croatia to the delicious culture of the Basque Country to the… Well, you get my point — there are a lot of very cool destinations on the 2016 EuroTour.
And I think that’s what the paddlers are most looking forward to — I’ve spoken to dozens of top international athletes that are just as stoked about the “travel and adventure” of the EuroTour as they are about the racing and competition.
Personally, as someone that was lucky enough to live in Europe for half a decade, I can’t wait to return to my spiritual home next month: SUP Racer will be stationed in Europe for the entire summer, and hopefully I’ll make it to at least 10 or 11 of the 14 stops to report directly on how it’s all going both on and off the water.
It’s going to be a big summer of SUP in Europe.
The 2016 EuroTour presented by Starboard
|1||Port Setubal SUP Race||Leo Nika||5.0%||Laura Quetglas||5.0%||May 7/8||Portugal||€3,500|
|2||Port Adriano SUP Race||Paolo Marconi||5.0%||Sonni Hönscheid||9.5%||May 14/15||Spain||€3,500|
|3||SUP Race Cup (St. Maxime)||Connor Baxter||30.5%||Sonni Hönscheid||31.0%||May 21/22||France||€5,000|
|4||Lost Mills||Michael Booth||48.0%||Sonni Hönscheid||35.5%||May 26-28||Germany||€8,000|
|5||Iberdrola Bilbao World SUP Challenge||Connor Baxter||40.0%||Seychelle Hattingh||23.5%||June 4/5||Basque Country||€10,000|
|6||San Sebastian Paddle Tour||Titouan Puyo||29.0%||Olivia Piana||15.5%||June 11/12||Basque Country||€5,000|
|7||SUPer Challenge Poreč||Michael Booth||18.5%||Fiona Wylde||9.5%||June 18/19||Croatia||€6,000|
|8||Happy Summer Namur||Jeremy Teulade||5.0%||Petronella van Malsen||5.0%||June 25/26||Belgium||€5,000|
|9||On Board Festival||Leo Nika||5.0%||Susak Molinero||5.0%||July 2/3||Greece||€6,000|
|10||Sieravuori SUP Masters||Leo Nika||5.0%||Susak Molinero||5.0%||July 9/10||Finland||€7,500|
|11||Noli SUP Race||Leo Nika||8.0%||Susak Molinero||5.0%||July 16/17||Italy||€5,000|
|12||Adriatic Crown||Leo Nika||6.0%||Susak Molinero||5.0%||July 23/24||Italy||€5,500|