ISA Worlds Day 6: Long, Hot Day For The Women’s Distance Race, With Lina Augaitis And Jordan Mercer Claiming Gold
Well that was a tough race.
Friday, day six, saw the women’s distance event here at the 2014 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Both the SUP and prone women hit the water at 9am to begin the 18km trek around the ‘Isletas de Granada’ to the finish line. It was always going to be tough but the conditions were particularly brutal today. Even in the early morning, the sun was blazing hot and the wind was blowing strong across Lake Nicaragua, which produced a stiff headwind for the first few kilometres.
I was fortunate to be sitting on the lead camera boat, which gave me a privileged insight into a race that was held on a distant, exotic and very unique course.
Lina Augaitis (Canada) and Shakira Westdorp (Australia) went hard off the line and broke most of the pack within the first few hundred metres. Only Laura Quetglas (Spain) was able to hang on, with the top three settling into a draft train that would last until the 3 kilometre mark, when Shak and Lina upped the pace and dropped the Spaniard.
Behind the leaders a chase pack of five quickly formed, with Celine Guesdon (France), Barbara Brasil (Brazil), Shae Foudy (USA), Marie Buchanan (UK) and Edimar Luque (Venezuela) working together.
At the 4km mark, as the paddlers left the large bay and entered the chain of small islands (just before buoy 2 on the course map below), things started to go all over the place. There was a brief gap in the outer island chain that allowed the big rolling bumps from the middle of Lake Nicaragua to impact the paddlers. In a 500 metre, mini-downwind/cross-wind section, the chasing pack of five totally split up as drafting became virtually impossible.
Barbara and Shae made the most of the split, taking off in pursuit of Laura, who was holding onto her bronze medal position for dear life. Meanwhile up ahead, Shak and Lina were both setting a solid pace and were in a race of their own.
The prone women, particularly Jordan Mercer (Australia) and Carter Graves (USA) were setting a fast pace, with the two favourites mowing down most of the Stand Up Paddlers (who had a 2 minute head start) by the halfway mark. After that, Jordan made a break from Carter and paddled the final 6-7 kilometres on her own to take the win. Spain’s Itziar Rivero put in a huge effort to stick with Jordie and Carter for the first five kilometres and came home for a much-deserved bronze medal, while New Zealand’s Ashley Cochrane took the copper.
Jordan Mercer is a champion. This young lady is all class and thoroughly deserved her third straight gold medal in this event. Jordie overtook most of the stand ups, despite having a two minute staggered start. In fact the Aussie very nearly had the quickest race out of anyone on the course, showing that prone and SUP paddlers are still relatively close in speed.
But back to the SUPs: Shak and Lina controlled the race and were together all the way back out into the main lake (see buoy #4 above). As they rounded the buoy the wind direction provided a few bumps and it was here that the race turned, with Lina taking off.
From my awesome viewpoint on the lead boat, where we got within metres of the leaders at a few stages (but always reminded our boat driver not to go past them and cause any wake..!), I could see that Shak was looking calm and strong as they weaved through the islands. I really thought she might get Lina at one point, but as they rounded buoy 4 and went downwind, Lina immediately pulled away and made a 100m gap by the time they hit buoy 5.
I spoke to Shak after the race and she basically hit the wall after buoy #5, where she was still within 50-100 metres of Lina. Going upwind between buoys 5 and 6 was certainly a cruel, brutal way to finish a 18km race.
Lina dug deep and eventually won by a good minute or two from Shak, however Shakira’s performance to claim the silver should not be understated. The Aussie already has a bronze this week from the SUP surfing and is known to be strong around the technical course race. However she didn’t have the hype going into this distance race and I wasn’t sure she’d even podium. But after 2 hours of grinding paddling, I was stoked to see Shak prove me wrong. It was a very brave fight but Lina was just that bit stronger in the end.
Barbara Brazil made the most of the downwind bumps between buoy 4 and 5 to put a hold on the bronze, which she held onto til the end. Her and Shae passed Laura from Spain just after buoy 4 – Laura had been in “no man’s land” for at least an hour, doing all the work on her own, whereas Shae and Barbara had worked together in the flats and probably had more in reserve. In the end Laura had to settle for 5th, just outside the medals.
That put Shae Foudy in the 4th placed, copper medal position, in one of the most impressive performances of the day. Shae is just 15 years old and definitely the unknown quantity in the strong USA team coming into this event, however she put in a very bold race today to claim another medal for the Americans and put them in good standing on the overall team points. At one point I saw team manager Ian Cairns, coach Jim Terrell and Shae’s team mate Chuck Glynn out on the course on SUPs cheering on her and Carter Graves. The three guys had paddled a good three or four kilometres off the beach to get a good view point of the race and cheer on the team mates, which was a great show of team camaraderie.
Always close was Celine Guesdon of France, who occupied position #6 for the final hour and a half of the race and although she was always within shouting distance of the chase pack, could never quite make up the gap to get into medal contention. Coming home in 7th was UK’s Marie Buchanan while 8th spot went to Venezuela’s Edimar Luque. South Africa’s Brigette van Aswegen was probably loving the downwind bumps towards the end, but lost too much ground on the flat to ever be in contention. The local Nicaraguan Ana Vanegas rounded out the top 10 and got some of the biggest cheers of all as she crossed the line, which was thronged by the various teams, officials and hundreds of local schoolgirls that got half a day off to come check out the action.
At the very start of the race there was some confusion from the media boat (which I was actually sitting on…), with Lina sprinting off the line and our boat driver – perhaps unaware of just how quick these girls can move their SUP race boards – a little slow to react and get out of their way. That was the only hiccup with boats getting in the way of competitors that I saw, which is impressive considering there were at least half a dozen official boats out on the course.
Also, only one of the fifteen stand up paddlers was pulled from the course due to exhaustion, which is impressive considering how long and hot it was out there today. Coming in the 14th and final spot was Peru’s Lizinka Naranjo de Delgado. Although she finished at the back of the pack her story was one of the best: As she crossed the line, Lizinka was hugged by her son and husband, who are competing for Peru tomorrow. Quite a heartwarming moment that summed up the spirit of the ISA event.
In another sign of epic sportsmanship, Jordan Mercer donated her board to Valerie Slowing after the race. Valerie is a champion swimmer from Guatemala but has only been paddling for a week. The Guatemalans attempted to put a full squad together for this event and, without a paddleboarding tradition, looked to surfers and swimmers to fill the ranks. Valerie’s first training run on a paddleboard was just one week ago… Which makes her completion of today’s 18km marathon all the more amazing.
Anyway check back tomorrow for the LIVE WEBCAST of the men’s distance race, which should be an absolute classic. The start list for the men’s race is right down there at the bottom. If you take a look you’ll see at least a dozen names that could genuinely take a medal. It’s gonna be a brutal race and I’ll be on the lead boat watching it first hand and hopefully relaying some updates to the booth.
Should be a very fun race to follow so check back in at 8:40am local time for the start of the live stream. The men’s field runs very deep so I think we’re in for a very intriguing tactical battle. Plus this really is an amazing distance course, weaving our way through the exotic jungle islands and around this giant lake. It’s something else…
Scroll down past the pics for today’s RESULTS…
All photos below credit: Tweddle/Gonzales/ISA
2014 ISA Worlds – Women’s Distance Race Results
1st: Lina Augaitis (Canada) – GOLD [1:58:24]
2nd: Shakira Westdorp (Australia) – SILVER [2:00:20]
3rd: Barbara Brasil (Brazil) – BRONZE [2:02:49]
4th: Shae Foudy (USA) – COPPER [2:03:40]
5th: Laura Quetglas (Spain) [2:04:33]
6th: Celine Guesdon (France) [2:05:17]
7th: Marie Buchanan (UK) [2:09:05]
8th: Edimar Luque (Venezuela) [2:11:31]
9th: Brigette van Aswegen (South Africa) [2:23:43]
10th: Ana Vanegas (Nicaragua) [2:26:23]
11th: Nicoline Rassmussen (Denmark) [2:33:52]
12th: Edith Garcia (Costa Rica) [2:43:15]
13th: Esperanza Mures (Mexico) [3:09:42]
14th: Lizinka Naranjo de Delgado (Peru) [3:16:00]
DNF: Andrea Aldana (Guatemala)
1st: Jordan Mercer (Australia – GOLD [1:59:16]
2nd: Carter Graves (USA) – SILVER [2:02:20]
3rd: Itziar Rivero (Spain) – BRONZE [2:09:49]
4th: Ashley Cochrane (New Zealand) – COPPER [2:17:19]
Men’s Distance Race Start list
(men’s race is 9am local time on Saturday and will be webcast live here on SUPracer.com)
Check out our predictions to see who the leading contenders are…
Toby Cracknell AUS
Lincoln Dews AUS
Ethan Koopmans RSA
Dylan Frick RSA
Fernando Stalla MEX
Javier Jimenez MEX
Itzel Delgado PER
Raul Delgado PER
Vincius Martins BRA
Gabriel Vilarinho BRA
Eric Terrien FRA
Titouan Puyo FRA
Francisco Hernandez VEN
Armando Colucci VEN
Oliver Shilston UK
Aaron Rowe UK
Cameron McKay CAN
Josep Oltra SPA
Belarmino Diaz SPA
Casper Steinfath DEN
Oliver HartKopp DEN
Slater Trout USA
Chuck Glynn USA
Ricardo Chiari PAN
Norwin Estrella NIC
Hector Potoy NIC
Leonardo Toso ITA
Federico Benettolo ITA
Pedro Vergara GUA
Erick Zamora CRI
Rolando Herrera CRI
Camilo Marmol COL
Andris Bisnieks LAT
Alan Gunther Vogt CHI