With Colour, Flair, And Plenty Of Noise, The ISA Worlds Officially Begin
Flanked by flag-waving paddlers from 26 proud nations, ISA President Fernando Aguerre proclaimed the 2015 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship officially open here in Sayulita, Mexico this afternoon.
The paddling world has gathered in Mexico for a week-long festival of SUP racing, surfing and prone paddleboarding, and the vibe, the buzz, the atmosphere during today’s colourful opening ceremony was amazing.
The competition hasn’t even started but already the Worlds have shown why they’ve become such a significant event on the calendar. This is a unique spectacle, where paddlers compete not only for individual glory but, more importantly, for the national teams. It’s a gathering of tribes from all corners of the world map. It’s the Olympics of stand up paddling.
Today’s opening ceremony was even more intense and energetic than usual. You could feel the electricity in the air. In previous years the ceremony took place in the middle of a city, however today’s festivities, which included the traditional parade of nations through the streets, symbolically ended at a stage setup on the sand just metres from where the action will unfold all week long.
And what action it’s going to be.
I believe the 2015 Worlds will be a landmark event for our sport and a turning point for the ISA’s mission to promote stand up paddling in general. The level of competition is noticeably higher than in previous years. The ruling triumvirate of the stand up paddling world is gathered for the first time: Australia, Hawaii and the USA. And those latter two nations may just give the undefeated Australians something to chase this year. We may finally get a tight race on the teams leaderboard.
Then we’ve got the emerging powers: France, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Tahiti, New Zealand, who will be locked in a six-way fight for the fourth and final spot on the teams podium next Sunday.
However the teams that add the most flair are the ones that will probably walk home with no medals whatsoever. The minnows. The Swedens, the Switzerlands, the El Salvadors. The size of their teams are small and their final points tally will be modest, however it’s the minnows that make the ISA Worlds so special.
On the eve of Day 1 of competition, the final list of nations looks thus: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Great Britain, Hawaii, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tahiti, USA, US Virgin Islands.
After today’s noise, colour and flair on land, the festivities move to the water tomorrow morning. Monday is eight solid hours of SUP surfing’s early rounds, before we move straight into racing on Tuesday and Wednesday, where the first gold medals will be decided.
We’ll have every minute of every day streaming live here on SUPracer.com with the official webcast feed. Tune in – you may be witness to a rather historic week.
Monday May 11th: SUP Surfing
Tuesday: Women’s Distance
Wednesday May 13th: Men’s Distance Race
Thursday May 14th: SUP Surfing
Friday May 15th: Course Race Qualifiers
Saturday May 16th: SUP Surfing Finals + Team Relay Qualifiers
Sunday May 17th: Course Race Finals + Team Relay Final