Who were the best-performing European paddlers in Europe during season 2019?
Given that Europe is now the epicentre of our sport, and considering it produces about half of the world’s best athletes, I thought it might be fun and interesting to analyse which Euro paddlers ranked highest at their “home” events.
So I’ve taken the World Rankings, trimmed all the non-European athletes and races, and come up with a new leaderboard to determine the “King” and “Queen of Europe”.
Note: This is a one-off, specialty leaderboard for now, but if there’s enough interest I’ll keep it running all year. And either way, there’s so much data in the SUP Racer World Rankings system that I’ll definitely make this kind of thing a regular feature — “Behind the Rankings” perhaps we can call it — studying the stats and finding hidden stories behind the numbers. The “FiveThirtyEight” of SUP 😉
Criteria for the European Rankings differs to the World Rankings:
#1: only events within Europe are counted
#2: only athletes from Europe are included
#3: every result counts (not just “Best 5”)
The first two are obvious but #3 was added to reward the paddlers who are dedicated to Europe. The athletes that race regularly at home but perhaps don’t get the opportunity to compete at the majors in Asia and America. I feel they should be rewarded for their commitment, and the best way to do that is count every result.
The SUP Racer World Rankings included 41 European events in 2019 from the various tours and federations (17 events promoted by The Euro Tour, 13 from The Paddle League plus the APP in London and a handful of national titles and independent events). That number will probably double in 2020 as we add a few new Regional Paddle Leagues and more national titles to the rankings system.
Note: Tahitian events Tahitian athletes – who hold French passports – aren’t included because they’re so geographically distant (and I mean this out of respect — i.e. Tahiti is culturally independent from Europe despite being part of France). The two New Caledonian island athletes (Titou and Noic) are in a similar position but they were included in this list only because they actively represent Team France.
KING OF EUROPE
Titouan Puyo is the King of Europe.
In an announcement that will shock absolutely nobody, Titou was best-performing European athlete in Europe in 2019. The Frenchman (“New Caledonian” but he competes for France and spends half his year there) scored a combined 374 points from 8 races.
Titou has long been seen as the number one in Europe though he has plenty of competition these days especially from his compatriots. The humble, silky-smooth champion is probably the best paddler never to have been ranked number one in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing if Titou can find that extra half a percent and challenge Boothy for the top spot this year, but until then he at least sits atop the “Europeans in Europe” leaderboard.
(Though in case you’re wondering: Boothy still would have been number one even in Europe; Ty Judson at #6 and Vinni at #10 were the best of the rest of the foreigners in Europe.)
Despite being above Titou on the world rankings, Bruno drops to number three when we condense the season into a single continent. Bruno picked up a lot of points in China, and despite winning the biggest race of the year in Europe (Bilbao) he couldn’t hold off the French on this specialty leaderboard.
The big Euro movers are Tom Auber and Ludovic Teulade — two guys who I think got under-ranked on the SUP Racer World Rankings. Tom jumps 14 places above his world ranking to #2 in Europe, while Ludo is +13 at #4. These guys were the two most-regular competitors, which certainly helps on a specialty leaderboard that counts all results, but they also both deserve a top five ranking after showing time and again that they’re world-class competitors.
The French duo are joined in the top 10 by compatriots Arthur Arutkin, Martin Vitry and Noic Garioud. Incredibly, France holds five of the top six spots to cement their reputation as the powerhouse of European paddling.
Long-time Euro contender Leo Nika jumps from outside the world’s top 20 to inside Europe’s top 10 after a big season at home. Italy holds three of the top 10 spots, meaning Bruno (Hungary) is the only non-French, non-Italian paddler to make the top 10.
The junior chargers Noic Garioud, Christian “Polar Bear” Andersen and Marius Auber (the younger brother of Tom) all cracked the top 15 despite not even being old enough to celebrate a race win with a beer (at least not in Australia or America; Europe is fortunately a little more relaxed).
I really feel we’re on the cusp of a new generation starting to flex their muscles in our sport, and I’m pretty sure the European lads will be leading the way.
Only two guys actually slid down the leaderboard when comparing the World and European Rankings. Daniel Hasulyo is an easy one to explain — he’s based in Thailand and mainly raced in Asia in 2019, while Casper Steinfath hardly raced at all and picked up a lot of his points in Japan and the USA.
Ten different nations were represented in the “Euro Top 40” despite the dominance of the French (15/40) including Oleksii Sidenko from Ukraine in 39th position (+44 against his world ranking). Scroll down for a “Battle of Europe” nations leaderboard.
KING OF EUROPE: TOP 40
+/- is the difference between world and European ranking
|13||+25||Giordano Bruno Capparella||99.01||7||Italy||Open|
|23||+20||Joep van Bakel||63.20||5||Netherlands||Open|
|24||+30||Kjell de Bruyn||55.23||7||Belgium||Open|
|40||+33||Bart de Zwart||25.00||2||Netherlands||Master|
QUEEN OF EUROPE
No surprises here: Olivia Piana is the Queen of the world and Europe. The Frenchwoman, who’s based in Portugal, claimed a string of victories including a win at the biggest race of the year (Bilbao). A lot of her points did come from the ICF Worlds in China, which are obviously excluded from this leaderboard, but her 2019 dominance was so deep that she still had 10 big European results for a combined total of 443 points.
But perhaps the biggest star of this one-off “European SUP Rankings” is Susak Molinero, who goes +4 all the way up to #2 following a big season at home. The Spaniard, who’s based in Italy, competed more than anyone else on this list (12x European appearances) and had better results than just about anyone else as well, regularly hitting the podium in what was a break-out season for the ever-smiling workhorse.
Amandine continues to rack up the points with seemingly-minimal effort. She doesn’t stand out like some of her peers, but Amandine is one of the most under-rated talents in the sport.
And once again, France dominated. Frenchwomen held three of the top spots courtesy of Olivia, Amandine and #5 Melanie Lafenetre. Fanny Tessier sits #7 just for good measure.
But one of the brightest prospects sits at #4, Caterina Stenta. The Italian professional windsurfer decided midway through 2019 that she wanted to be a professional stand up paddler instead. If she sticks to that plan, I expect her to rise up into the top 10 on the world rankings in 2020 (she currently sits 14th).
The only woman to slide is world number four Sonni Honscheid, who picked up a big haul of points in China where she won the ICF marathon gold medal.
Seven junior women make the list and that number would have doubled if I’d gone down to 60th instead of stopping at 40. Spain is clearly leading the way in girls’ paddling, while Italy, France, Germany and the Czech Republic are all represented.
Foreign women were slightly less dominant in Europe than men — Fiona Wylde (#2), Seychelle (#8) and Yuka Sato (#17) would have been the best of the “outsiders” if I’d included non-Europeans on this specialty leaderboard.
QUEEN OF EUROPE: TOP 40
+/- is the difference between world and European ranking
|8||+10||Petronella van Malsen||161.61||9||Netherlands||Open|
|21||+13||Laura dal Pont||57.72||4||Italy||Junior|
|39||+7||Hannah Leni Krah||21.88||2||Germany||Junior|
THE BATTLE OF EUROPE
Who were the top nations in Europe?
It won’t surprise you to reveal that France was a mile (or a kilometre) ahead. The Frenchies house five of the top six men and four of the top seven women. Ever since the good old days of Eric Terrien flying the flag, France has always been the paddling powerhouse of Europe and will likely hold top spot for years to come as Titou et al mature and the younger generation emerges.
But what’s really interesting is to watch the battle for second between Spain and Italy. The Italian guys roll deeper but the Spanish women are stronger. It’s a virtual tie at the moment.
I would have liked to analyse some of the smaller nations (the “minnows”) but I only decided to throw in a “Battle of Europe” nations leaderboard after I’d finished the leaderboards above, which only show the top 40 men and women. That’s a little unfair to the smaller nations who have several paddlers ranking down the order.
If I make the “European SUP Rankings” more than just a one-off feature (what do you think?) then I’ll figure out a way to add all European paddlers and all their European results (but that would be about 3000 paddlers by my estimate, so no promises…).
Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look “Behind the Rankings” — the next special feature will be the “B-Team World Rankings” where I analyse what would happen if each athlete could enter themselves twice 😉