The EuroTour Unveils Its Schedule for the 2017 European Summer of SUP
With the snow starting to fall and the water starting to freeze in Europe, now is a good time to start dreaming of some warm water paddling. Well to help out, the EuroTour has just released its schedule for the 2017 European Summer of SUP.
The EuroTour, which is half ‘race series’ and half ‘European summer holiday’, is one of the funnest parts of the season. From France to Finland, Crete to the Canary Islands and plenty more places in between, the Tour combines racing and traveling into one big cultural adventure.
After a big series in 2016, the 2017 EuroTour has a few new additions, with a major focus on France and some solid coin up for grabs.
While the Tour is about much more than just the pros and the money, there is definitely some nice cash on offer in 2017, including €50,000 ($53,000 USD; $71,000 AUD) across 4 big races in the space of just 21 days during June (aka the ‘headline’ events).
I’m particularly excited about the new “Atlantic Paddle Games” in Hossegor. Although it’s not one of the biggest events in terms of prize money, this could easily be the most exciting; Hossegor recently hosted an epic edition of the French National Titles, while the town is also host to the annual Quikslver Pro WSL contest (so yeah, it’s probably gonna be a surf race).
Though the most lucrative stop of the Tour and the biggest surprise of today’s announcement is another new French addition: The race in Thonon-les-Bains in the French Alps, which promises a €20,000 prize purse along with some spectacular scenery.
I also can’t wait to return to the Basque Country – one of the most amazing places on earth – for the Bilbao/San Sebastian double header.
Check out the full EuroTour schedule below, and stay tuned for more details about the 2017 series before the end of the year.
Oh and once again the EuroTour crew, led by tour manager Belar Diaz, will be offering athletes board transport via the famous EuroTour Trailer (which clocked over 24,000kms this summer). I hear there are some cool things in the works on the media production side of the Tour as well. More on that will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Week 1: The Crete SUP Race
May 6 & 7
Island of Crete, Greece
€6,000 prize money
New for 2017
This is one of the new additions to the tour. Been dreaming of a trip to the Greek Islands? Well now you’ve got a good excuse.
Greece is actually home to a surprisingly large SUP community, so it’s cool to see the Greeks score the opening event on the 2017 Tour.
Week 2: The Namur Race
May 13 & 14
2016 champions: Jeremy Teulade, Petronella van Malsen
It may not be the most lucrative or competitive, however Namur is one of the most established stops on the European circuit. The race dates back more than half a decade.
Week 3: The SUP Race Cup
May 20 & 21
St. Maxime, France
2016 overall champions: Connor Baxter, Sonni Hönscheid
Speaking of established races, there’s surely no race in Europe more iconic than the SUP Race Cup in Sainte-Maxime.
Taking in the beauty of the French Riviera (St. Maxime sits across the bay from the iconic St. Tropez) this event is as much a holiday as it is a race. The SUP Race Cup has been running every summer since 2009, making next year’s event the 9th annual edition.
Although it’s not as glitzy and hyped up as some of the bigger races in the world, this is certainly one of the true classics on the calendar and always attracts a big crowd.
There’s also some mighty fine wine in the region, which certainly doesn’t hurt.
Week 4: The Atlantic Paddle Games
New for 2017
This is the one I’m really interested to see. Hossegor is a world famous surf town (it hosts the annual Quiksilver Pro), and the town is an amazing place to hang out in the summer time.
Although summer isn’t usually when the big swells hit (which is probably a good thing; Hossegor can get heavy when it’s firing), we’ll hopefully have some fun 2-3ft surf to make this event live up to its name. It’s surely no coincidence that the Atlantic Paddle Games sounds just like the Pacific Paddle Games.
Week 5: The Thonon SUP Race
June 3 & 4
New for 2017
The Thonon-les-Bains race is definitely the surprise packet of today’s EuroTour announcement. While Germany has always had the big money races in Europe, suddenly we’ve got a €20,000 ($21,000 USD; $28,000 AUD) race on a lake in the French Alps.
The race will be happening on ‘Lac Léman‘ (aka Lake Geneva), a very scenic stretch of water that also marks the border between France and Switzerland (if they set the buoys far enough from shore this race will go through two countries).
The money alone will definitely attract some big names, while the location will draw in those who just want to enjoy some racing action in an awesome location.
The Thonon race will also be the first of the unofficial “Headliners” that run all through June; the 4x back-to-back money races that a lot of the international athletes will be focusing on.
Nobody does the entire EuroTour from start to finish, that’s not the point of it. Instead, most paddlers just focus on 3 or 4 races, and next year it looks like the big ones will be in June.
Week 6: The Iberdrola Bilbao World SUP Challenge
June 10 & 11
Bilbao, Basque Country
2016 champions: Connor Baxter, Seychelle Hattingh
One of the most beloved races in Europe, the Iberdrola Bilbao World SUP Challenge is hosted in one of my favourite places on earth: The Basque Country.
With the race being set on a river that cuts straight through the heart of the city, Bilbao is probably the most spectator-friendly race in Europe. Doesn’t hurt that the start line is right beside the world famous Guggenheim Museum, which always ensures a big crowd of weekend strollers are watching the action on the water.
Bilbao also has one of the best event setups of any race in Europe (or the world, for that matter), which adds another level of professionalism to what is an amazing weekend.
Bilbao/San Sebastian is a double header you really shouldn’t miss.
Week 7: The San Sebastián SUP Race
June 17 & 18
San Sebastián, Basque Country
2016 champions: Titouan Puyo, Olivia Piana
San Sebastian was the surprise of the 2016 EuroTour, with gnarly conditions making it one of the most challenging yet entertaining and enjoyable races of the summer.
The race starts in a fairly protected bay before heading out into an exposed ocean. From there it enters a river before heading back to the start/finish line, where the whole course is looped for a second time. Last year we had everything from dead flat water to little waves to downwind bumps to some gnarly side bumps bouncing off the cliffs.
Just like Bilbao, San Sebastian is one of those stops where the racing is just an excuse to enjoy one of the coolest cities on earth. Some of the finest food you’ll ever taste, and some of the funnest times you’ll have all summer.
Week 8: The Narbonne SUP Race
June 24 & 25
New for 2017
Another new addition to the EuroTour, the Narbonne race has a solid prize purse and a pretty awesome location. The town sits on the southern end of the south of France, close to the Spanish border and within a well known downwind region.
Week 9: Onexe Fuerteventura Downwinder
July 8 & 9
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
New for 2017
While this is a mile out of the way and the money is light, the Fuerteventura race could be one of the best stops on tour. The reason why is in the title: It’s a downwinder.
The Canary Islands, part of Spain but sitting just off the coast of north-west Africa, are home to some of the finest downwind runs on the planet. We definitely need more downwind races in Europe so this is a great addition.
Week 10: The 5th Annual Sieravuori SUP Masters
July 15 & 16
2016 champions: Leo Nika, Susak Molinero
Finland was one of my surprise favourites of the 2016 EuroTour. It’s miles out of the way, meaning it’ll never get a massive turnout, however those that do make the trek to this lake in the middle of Finland are duly rewarded. Within the host campground of ‘Seriavuori’ is a natural wonderland filled with midnight sunsets, saunas and a beautiful big lake for paddling.
If you’ve got the time to hit this stop, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Week 11: The SUP Armada
July 22 & 23
Bewl Water, England
New for 2017
I’m not too familiar with this race, but despite this being its first season on the Tour I believe the SUP Armada has already been around for a few years.
The UK certainly has one of the biggest SUP racing communities in Europe, so hopefully we see a big turnout at the final stop of the 2017 EuroTour.