December 6, 2012
by Belar Diaz

Belar Diaz’s “Paddle Royal” Postcard From Puerto Rico

Boss Man’s note: The only way any SUP racing fan could’ve missed hearing about last week’s Paddle Royal in Puerto Rico is if they were living under a rock, on Mars, with their hands over their ears… That’s how big it was. From the huge prize money to the epic photos to the big name paddlers to the great SUP racing. From the outside, the Paddle Royal seems to have been a massive success.

But what did the paddlers think? All reports so far are saying the same thing: great race, very well organised, awesome location. The $20,000 prize purse probably didn’t hurt either. The event is set to be even bigger next year, with whispers that it may be the most lucrative SUP race of 2013 (more on that to follow).

So to get a first hand account of the race, we asked Fanatic team rider Belar Diaz for his post-race thoughts. Belar is one of Europe’s leading SUP racers and put in a solid performance in San Juan, claiming 8th in the elite Distance Race for a Top 10 finish overall.

Here’s Belar’s race recap from the Paddle Royal Long Distance race, which gives you a good insight into what it’s like at the pointy end of an elite SUP race. Belar’s training partner and fellow Eurolander, Eric Terrien, put in an extremely impressive performance to finish 2nd behind Danny Ching.


Start of the Paddle Royal Distance Race (that’s Belar Diaz on the far left) // © Ben Thouard Photography

“The Paddle Royal was set to be the last event of the 2012 season, and for a lot of us it was going to be the first time racing in Puerto Rico. The event was a major success.

It all started on Saturday with an 8.5 mile Distance Race around old San Juan, which included some beautiful sights. The first part of the race was a circular course in the inside lagoon before we headed out into the ocean. The start was packed with paddlers and after the first buoy the front group of Danny Ching, Eric Terrien, Ryan Helm, Paul Jackson and Chase Kosterlitz quickly gained momentum.

Behind them it was Thomas Maximus, Nick Leason and myself all trying not to lose too much ground to the leaders. As soon as we got into the open ocean Danny made his move, taking off and establishing a solid lead that he sustained to the end of the race.

With his local knowledge, Nick took a line much closer to the shore, aiming for the outside buoy. The move paid off, and in a great push he managed to catch the top group that was chasing Danny. Before we reached the outside buoy in the open ocean, Eric made his move, milking every bump that came his way to break away from the pack and put himself into a solid second postion.

Then the race went into the bay, rounding the Castle of Old San Juan where we were met by some heavy rain (which felt great considering the high temperatures) as well as some headwind, just to add more of a challenge.

We then turned into what felt like a never ending straight line paddle on the inside of the port, going under some low bridges (some of us had flashbacks of Holland and 11 City tour memories, but luckily it wasn’t that long of a stretch) to then finish right where we started in the lagoon.

It was at that point that Ryan pulled away from the group giving him third place, followed by Chase, Nick and Jacko all sprinting for the finish. About three minutes later Thomas came in followed by myself a minute later.

All of the paddlers agreed on the beauty of the course, and the fact that the conditions were different at every stage of the race.”

– Belar