April 16, 2023
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Euro Tour week 2: Noic overpowers Bruno in sweltering Sevilla; Espe in a league of her own

above: Noic Garioud (right) and Bruno Hasulyo celebrate their 1-2 finish on a summer-like day in Sevilla (@marioentero)

It’s not even summer yet, but the temperature in southern Spain pushed past 30°C for this weekend’s Sevilla SUP Festival aka week 2 of the Euro Tour. With the course set at 12km, the water set at dead flat and the sky as blue as a berry, it was always going to be a tough one. And making his season debut in similarly hot fashion was Noic Garioud.

The “Chicken” from New Caledonia showed that he’ll be a #1 contender yet again this season after sprinting away from pace-setter Bruno Hasulyo in the final few hundred metres to triumph in what was a six-man battle.

After showing plenty of talent as a junior, 21-year-old Noic has enjoyed a big couple of seasons and looks every chance of repeating the successes of 2021 (2x titles at the ICF Worlds) and 2022 (3x silvers between the ICF and ISA).

Bruno made up for a disappointing fifth place finish in week 1 of the Tour to show he’s still on the very top level, especially in these long/flat grinds where he seems to excel. Indeed, the Hungarian looked set for victory before Noic was able to find another gear just as the finish line loomed large.

Behind the leading duo the next generation were jockeying for position.

Staking his claim as one of the key galleons in the fast-rising Spanish fleet, Atonio Morillo was particularly impressive in third place ahead of week 1 winner, the Flying Dutchman Donato Freens, while Aaron Sanchez and Fernando Perez helped give the Spaniards half of the top half dozen positions.

Espe Barreras leads the women off the line as the Sevilla crowd looks on (@marioentero)

While the men’s winner was only decided in the dying metres, the women’s contest was simply a race for second after uber powerful Espe Barreras broke the field early and never looked back. In what must be an ominous warning to the rest of the world, the Canary Islander paddled home more than five minutes clear to cement her status as the strongest woman on the water.

The fact that Espe left her exciting young compatriot and 2022 ISA gold medalist Duna Gordillo so far behind shows just how strong she is in pure flat water racing. The imminent return of Fiona Wylde may herald some interesting clashes, Seychelle back to full strength could be a shot, while the eternally under-rated April Zilg has stated she’s focused purely on distance racing this year. But right now I just can’t see anyone getting close to Espe in a race of pure strength. In the ocean, maybe. In the waves, sure. But in the flat? Espe is in a league of her own.

Duna did manage to make it another 1-2 for Spain by resisting strong pressure from the Swiss miss and GlaGla champion Anna Tschirky, who was impressive in third, along with French prospect Erica Revil who claimed fourth place ahead of fellow NSP team rider Iona Rivet.

There were impressive results right throughout the top 10, with Sonia Caimari taking 6th place and adding to the results of her stablemates Duna and Aaron Sanchez to further highlight the incredible talents coming out of the island of Mallorca.

Young U.S. rider Bodie von Allmen – one of the only Americans competing in Europe – improved the average of his debut Euro Tour campaign by finishing in a strong 7th, just a minute behind Noic, which follows a 10th place result last weekend in Ceuta.

Team NSP rolls deep: Duna leads Erica, Iona and Anna down the back straight (@marioentero)

One of the big narratives I think we’ll see this season is “Spain vs. France” as the top European teams assert their authority over the sport. The result this weekend was one win apiece, but looking ahead I can’t help but feel the Spanish have a certain momentum about them. If their men can find that 1 or 2% extra to compete with the Noic and Titous of the world, things could get very interesting.

And in parallel to the ‘Battle of the Nations’ I think we’ll see a pretty intense duel between Starboard and NSP in the Battle of the Brands. There’s no other team even remotely close to the two marquee stables, and even though Starboard still has the edge (they picked up both wins this weekend) I feel that NSP is the Spain to Starboard’s France. Or in other words, it’s getting closer every week…

The Euro Tour continues in two weeks with the formidable World SUP Festival in Santa Pola, Spain (there’s something about Spain these days eh?). However that event, brought forward almost a month from last season, now clashes with the Carolina Cup, which a few of the euros have signed up for, so we might see a fractured field later in the month.

(take a look at the full Euro Tour schedule)

Until then you can scroll down for top 10 results from this weekend’s sweltering showdown, and then below that we’ve got a full replay of Up Suping’s Sevilla live stream (cheers Nico).

all photo credit goes to @marioentero via @eurotoursup

Esperanza Barreras is in a league of her own right now…