Candice Appleby has claimed gold in the marathon race here in Fiji, with the defending champion paddling clear of an impressive trio led by France’s Olivia Piana in flat, hot and draining conditions to give Team USA their first gold medal of the championships.
Following Candice, Europe dominated the podium, with Spain’s Laura Quetglas and Slovenia’s Manca Notar paddling extremely well to fill the podium behind the Frenchwoman.
Australia and their Trans-Tasman rivals once again dominated the points courtesy of their prone paddlers, with 26-year-old Aussie star Harriet Brown claiming her second gold in three days after winning an exciting sprint to the line with Kiwi Danielle McKenzie. France’s Flora Manciet won a similar sprint against South Africa’s Anna Notten to claim the bronze before immediately collapsing due to exhaustion and having to be stretchered out of the water.
But on the SUP side of the draw the day belonged to America, with Candice’s win giving the team something to cheer about after a slow week has left them sitting in 4th on the overall points table behind Australia, France and New Zealand.
After the start at Cloudbreak lead pack came together, however Candice soon paddled clear and went on to race most of the course solo. Only Olivia could stay within sight, conceding less than two minutes after more than two hours of racing. Despite the flat conditions making drafting relatively easily, the competitive nature of the race meant the top eight women all paddled the final 6 or 7kms on their own.
Aussie Terrene Black and Wednesday’s gold medalist, Kiwi Penelope Armstrong, took a northern line closer to the reefs, while the other ladies stuck to the southern line that ultimately proved to be faster.
By the time the race had passed Tavarua and Namotu and was nearing the 14km turning buoy that signaled the 3km drag race to the finish line, the medals were virtually all decided.
While Candice had paddled strong all morning, Olivia showed once again that she belongs on the top tier of the sport, comfortably gapping the rest of the field en route to her second silver medal in the space of 48 hours. Commenting on Facebook after the race Olivia said:
“It was so hard to paddle the whole race alone under very hot conditions, with a nice front wind for the finish. It showed me I’m able to push my limits in conditions that I don’t like. Thank you for your support.”
Laura from Spain was also particularly impressive in third, with a last-minute board change clearly proving beneficial. Laura has been a journeywoman in the European scene over the past few years and this is surely her biggest result to date.
Next in line was young Manca, the sole representative of Team Slovenia at the 2016 ISA Worlds. Manca’s race was impressive considering she held off a fast-finishing Terrene and surf race champion Penelope, but it was even more incredible considering she was stuck in bed the day before the race with food poisoning; if the race had been held 24 hours earlier she wouldn’t have even been on the start line. This is Slovenia’s first ever medal in an ISA event.
Terrene fought hard for the green & gold but couldn’t close the gap over the final kilometre, with the Aussie settling for 5th but at least keeping the Kiwis at bay, an important result for the overall team standings.
Canada’s Lina Augaitis went out hard and was in the virtual silver medal position early on, however she faded late to finish 8th, slightly behind Japan’s under-rated Takayo Yokoyama. She was hard on herself after the race but considering Lina gave birth to her first child just 10 months ago, the fact she even finished this race is quite impressive. No doubt the former world number two will be back to her best in 2017.
Great Britain’s Marie Buchannan came home in 9th, narrowly ahead of Argentinian Juliana Gonzalez, who received one of the loudest cheers as she crossed the line at Musket Cove.
But the biggest cheer of the day, and perhaps of the event thus far, was reserved for Team India’s Tanvi Jagadish, a relative newcomer to the racing scene who finished at the back of the field today but exemplified the spirit of this entire event. Tanvi had to overcome many obstacles just to become a surfer and paddler, let alone compete here at the ISA Worlds here in Fiji, making her performance today even more special.
We’ll have the daily video recap up coming soon.
Here are the full results…
Check back @ 7:30am tomorrow (Saturday in Fiji) for the live webcast of the surfing finals out at Cloudbreak. We’ve got a 7-8ft swell forecast so it should be a good show!