November 10, 2014
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

ISA World Championship Heading To Sayulita, Mexico In May 2015

ISA Stand Up Paddleboard World Championships in Mexico 2015

After months of speculation we finally have confirmation: The 2015 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship will be held in Sayulita, Mexico from the 10th-17th May.

(CORRECTION: I jumped the gun and initially said the dates would be March 22nd-29th, which was the original schedule for the event. However there was a last minute change from the organisers yesterday afternoon. The official dates are now May 10th-17th.).

That gives us exactly 181 days to prepare for one of the grandest events on the racing calendar. 181 days to see if any nation can stop Australia from winning a fourth straight title. 181 days to see just how crazy of an after-party the Mexican team can throw on their home turf.

ISA World SUP Championship Opening Ceremony

The ISA Worlds is a special event in many ways, one that draws more than two dozen nations from around the world for a week of paddling and festivities.

The whole thing is basically a mini-Olympics, which is no coincidence given the International Surfing Association’s mission is to get the sport of stand up paddling (as well as surfing) into the Olympic Games.

Mexico has been touted as a host for the 2015 event for a long time (I first heard the rumour when we were in Nicaragua six months ago) and my guess is today’s confirmation will receive a positive response.

Punta Sayulita 2013

Sayulita, Mexico – this is where the 2015 ISA Worlds will be hosted

Holding the ISA SUP World Champs in Sayulita should solve a few of the logistical issues that plagued the first three editions (Peru 2012, 2013 and Nicaragua 2014). For starters, Mexico has an established SUP industry, which means paddlers may no longer have to travel with their boards.

But even if competitors are bringing their own equipment, Mexico is far more accessible than the previous hosts. There are regular, direct flights from major hubs to Puerto Vallarta, which is only 35 minutes drive from Sayulita. Plus if you’re really keen, you could even drive from California to Sayulita (might take a while though).

Travel and logistics have been a definite sticking point in previous editions of this event, but now this should be one less issue to worry about.

As for the host city itself, Sayulita (Google Maps) is considered the epicenter of stand up paddle in Mexico. The small, beautiful town is home to several of the country’s finest paddlers, including Fernando Stalla and Javier ‘Bicho’ Jimenez (who represented Mexico at the 2014 Worlds).

The main beach gets consistent waves that would be perfect for the SUP surfing contest. This also means we’re going to see the return of one of SUP racing’s most exciting elements – WAVES – to the racing portion of the ISA Worlds, after this year’s event in Nicaragua was held on flatwater lake.

Sayulita is where the Punta Sayulita Classic has been hosted for the past five years. That event is taking a break in 2015, however looking back at the previous editions will give us a pretty good indication of what to expect from the Worlds.

Here’s a look at this year’s Classic, which highlights Sayulita’s potential as a surfing/racing venue:

Moving the event to Mexico also means we’ll see a highly competitive host nation for the first time. While the Peruvian and Nicaraguan teams showed great spirit when they were hosts, both are relative minnows in the stand up paddling world.

Mexico, on the other hand, is one of the stronger countries and will be in contention for a podium spot (top four) in the overall team championship.

The 2015 World Championship in Sayulita is going to be a litmus test for the ISA. Despite the ‘world championship’ tag, the event has never been viewed as truly legitimate by the hardcore stand up paddling community.

The first three editions of the ISA Worlds have been just as noticeable for who wasn’t competing as who was. The powerhouse nation of Hawaii (USA/Hawaii are separate nations in the surfing world) has never attended, while several big names from other nations have never pursued the event.

This void made Team Australia virtually impossible to defeat, with the Aussies comfortably winning every year.

ISA World SUP Championship - Team Australia

However I get the feeling 2015 could be the tipping point. The event in Mexico may just be remembered as the year the ISA Worlds stepped it up and attracted a truly world-class level of competition.

I’m also quite certain that we’ll see a Hawaiian team for the first time, which would add priceless credibility to the event.

Casper Steinfath’s appointment as honourary Vice President will be a big help, while the ISA also has a new Director General in former ASP executive Liam Ferguson. I spoke at length with both Casper and Liam about the absence of so many of the sport’s top paddlers. Both replied that their first order of business was ensuring Hawaii and other top nations send competitive squads to the 2015 event.

2014 ISA Worlds Nicaragua Final Day (14)

USA, Mexico, Denmark, Brazil, Australia and France battling it out during the 2014 Worlds

Yes, the International Surfing Association still has plenty of work to do, but if the elite community can meet the ISA half way then we should be in for a stellar event next year.

So there you go. The 2015 ISA World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship will be in Sayulita, Mexico from Sunday May 10th to Sunday May 17th.

(CORRECTION: I jumped the gun and initially said the dates would be March 22nd-29th, which was the original schedule for the event. However there was a last minute change from the organisers yesterday afternoon. The official dates are now May 10th-17th.).

That means there are only 181 days until we’re looking at this…

Sayulita, Mexico

An aerial view of Sayulita, Mexico – the host of the 2015 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship

Flashback to the 2014 ISA Worlds

Overall Team Championship
– Gold: Australia
– Silver: USA
– Bronze: Brazil
– Copper: Spain

Men’s Distance Race
– Gold: Titouan Puyo (France)
– Silver: Lincoln Dews (Australia)
– Bronze: Eric Terrien (France)
– Copper: Vinicius Martins (Brazil)

ISA Worlds Men's Distance (11)

Women’s Distance Race
– Gold: Lina Augaitis (Canada)
– Silver: Shakira Westdorp (Australia)
– Bronze: Barbara Brasil (Brazil)
– Copper: Shae Foudy (USA)

ISA Worlds 2014 Women's Distance Race (13)

Men’s Technical Course Race
– Gold: Casper Steinfath (Denmark)
– Silver: Lincoln Dews (Australia)
– Bronze: Slater Trout (USA)
– Copper: Eric Terrien (France)

Casper Steinfath SUP World Championships

Women’s Technical Course Race
– Gold: Shakira Westdorp (Australia)
– Silver: Lina Augaitis (Canada)
– Bronze: Jenny Kalmbach (Costa Rica)
– Copper: Shae Foudy (USA)

2014 ISA Worlds Nicaragua Final Day (19)

Team Relay
– Gold: Australia
– Silver: USA
– Bronze: Spain
– Copper: Brazil
*France DQ’d