In brief: It’s another big weekend of racing around the world, with showcase events from Colorado to California and the Basque Country to Ibiza.
Here’s a quick run down of what’s happening over the next few days…
1. Bilbao Paddle Challenge (EuroTour Week 6)
The EuroTour roadshow rolls into the Spanish Basque Country for the next two weeks, with stop 6 in Bilbao and #7 just down the road in San Sebastian.
Connor Baxter is the defending champ of this 4-star event, however last year’s runner-up, Michael Booth, has a commanding lead on the EuroTour rankings and will be looking to all but seal the deal this weekend.
Titou is looking for his first event win of the Tour, and when you throw in flat water specialists like Bruno Hasulyo and Trevor Tunnington, along with Leo Nika and his Italian Mafia, we’re going to be in for a pretty hectic race in the close confines of Bilbao’s narrow city river.
Unfortunately there will be no live stream of this weekend’s race, with the local event manager in Bilbao bizarrely deciding to cancel our planned live stream at the last minute, which means SUP Racer won’t be able to bring you a front row seat of the festivities.
However we’ll be back live next week for the showdown in San Sebastian the following weekend. San Sebastian is definitely one of the best/funnest stops on the EuroTour, and it’s clearly an event that understands the value of bringing live coverage to the international paddling community…
2. Santa Monica Pier Paddle
Steeped in history, the Pier Paddle has grown to become one of California’s premiere races over the past few years, with a solid lineup of talent and a wide array of races including SUP, prone, swimming and the classic old “dory” racing.
Set to the backdrop of the iconic Santa Monica Pier, this weekend’s 2-star race will give us a good form guide for SoCal’s finest.
3. GoPro Mountain Games
With the beloved Payette River Games no longer on the calendar, the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail is the main (and one of the only) showcase events for whitewater SUP racing.
Saturday it’s the down river sprint, while Sunday we’ve got the awesome whitewater surf cross where paddlers duke it out in short, sharp heats around a tricky and technical course that often turns rather chaotic. It’s fun to watch.
Big names like Annabel Anderson and Chuck Patterson are in town along with a who’s who of the whitewater SUP scene. Whitewater is definitely one of the most under-rated styles of racing in our sport…
4. EuroSUP Portugal
Billed as the European version of the ISA Worlds, the EuroSUP Championship is a fledgling event (this is the second year) that lacks the star power of better known races but does have something rather unique: the national teams format.
Outside of the Worlds, the EuroSUP event is the only time paddlers compete country vs country in a mini little Olympics style event, which I think is pretty cool.
Unfortunately the timing of this week’s event in Peniche wasn’t ideal (sandwiched mid-week between two of the biggest stops on the EuroTour), but look for the likes of Titouan Puyo, Olivia Piana and Casper Steinfath to lead the medal contenders.
5. Vuelta Ibiza
While plenty of famous faces are duking it out across the above four events, a small band of hardy pioneers will be camped out on the sun-soaked Mediterranean island of Ibiza for five days of fun/torture in the 125km Vuelta Ibiza, a race that literally goes all the way around the island in five separate stages.
Based on the famous 11 City Tour (and now organised by the same team behind that event), the Vuelta is part race, part adventure, part holiday in the Med.
For that reason, SUP Racer is there to enjoy the festivities and see what this event is all about. Look for some insights into the fun and pain after the weekend (or whenever my “Haven’t trained in months/this is gonna hurt” hands and body recover).
In the meantime, check out our Vuelta Ibiza preview to find out more about this crazy race, and if it sounds like your idea of fun then pencil it in on your 2018 calendars.