May 15, 2023
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

A chink in the armour? Duna dethrones Espe to regain top spot in Spain

Team NSP’s Duna Gordillo, the Spanish sensation who took gold at last year’s ISA Worlds, has become the first paddler to defeat the almighty Espe Barreras in a distance race since…Duna Gordillo.

After starting the Euro Tour with an unbeaten streak so convincing that I wondered if she’d lose a single race all season, Espe and the Starboard Dream Team had to settle for second step on the podium in the 13km race around the rugged coast of Melilla at the ‘Triple S Festival’ on Sunday.

The race also acted as the national championship (Campeonata de España de Larga Distancia SUP Race), which would make Duna the new Spanish number one.

I haven’t found the official results sheet yet but judging from the live stream replay on UpSuping, Duna won the approximately 13km championship race in a time of 1:26:35 while Espe crossed in 1:27:50.

That’s a mighty impressive result from Duna considering Espe finished five minutes clear in Sevilla just a month ago.

The crew from the Mediterranean island of Mallorca made it a golden double with Duna’s training partner (and partner) Aaron Sanchez winning the competitive men’s race ahead of powerful prospects Antonio Morillo and Fernando Perez. The Mallorcans also had four of the top six women in the earlier beach race with Duna joined by Laura Queglas, Sonia Caimari and Aida Nepola.

Rounding out the women’s distance podium was SUP Racer’s official dark horse pick for season 2023, Alba Frey. The Canary Islander had already picked up a second place in Saturday’s beach race (also won by Duna) and her double-podium in Melilla adds to her podiums in Santa Pola and Ceuta. (The Triple S Festival wasn’t part of the Euro Tour — from what I can tell it was a purely Spanish event.)

The Duna-Espe 1-2 is a repeat of the 2022 ISA Worlds in Puerto Rico that saw the Spanish duo paddle so far clear of the field they were essentially in a race of their own. While Duna fell just short at Carolina last month, I’d still say that Spain is home to the top two women in the world right now — at least for distance racing.

The results also highlight the exceptional dominance of teams NSP and Starboard in this part of the world. With the exception of Manu on his Sunova, the blue boards each enjoyed close to 50% “market share” of the podiums.

1st: Duna Gordillo (NSP)
2nd: Alba Frey (Starboard)
3rd: Alba Frey (Starboard)

1st: Aaron Sanchez (Starboard)
2nd: Antonio Morillo (NSP)
3rd: Fernando Perez (Starboard)

Juniors: Alexia Soto (NSP) and Joan Garcia (Starboard)

1st: Duna Gordillo (NSP)
2nd: Alba Frey (Starboard)
3rd: Laura Quetglas (NSP)

1st: Manu Hoyuela (Sunova)
2nd: Aaron Sanchez (Starboard)
3rd: Rafa Sirvent (Starboard)

Juniors: Alexia Soto (NSP) and Augusto Garcia (Starboard)

Thanks to UpSuping for keeping us posted with what’s happening in Spain.

Melilla, the postcard-perfect host of the Triple S Festival, is a Spanish town that actually sits in North Africa. The port holds the same status as Ceuta, which hosted the opening round of this year’s Euro Tour.

The event, while merely a domestic race on paper, is yet another showcase of Spain’s ascendancy in the SUP racing world.

It’s going to be a big summer…

women: Alba / Duna / Espe
men: Antonio / Aaron / Fernando
credit: Giner Sport Photography