A few stories about paddling you might’ve missed in April
April was a big month for paddling as racing season kicked into gear and a few famous faces mounted comebacks.
After a late start to the season, SUP Racer also returned in April — to our roots of posting something every day. And that’s the goal for the rest of the year: daily stories about paddling. Some of those will be long-form feature posts, others mere quotes to pique your curiosity.
With so many stories, we won’t be sharing everything on Facebook, so unless you’re checking supracer.com every day you may miss a few. With that in mind, here are some of my personal favourites from April.
The Passion of the Gui
While the SUP world was focused on the big-name battles in Carolina and Spain over the weekend, last week saw another major event take place in Panama of all places.
The Pan American Surfing Games were the second-chance qualifier for the PanAm Games proper in Santiago, Chile later this year. Despite technically being a “regional” event with just 10 men and women competing, the PanAms will probably be the biggest stage our sport has been on.
Qualifying for Santiago with a solid victory in Panama was one of the most-promising paddlers in the world …in 2018.
Guilherme dos Reis from Brazil was bound for glory after heroics in California half a decade ago but has languished in the paddling wilderness since. Will the PanAms be his triumphant return?
Judging by the passion Gui showed at the finish line last week, Santiago certainly won’t lack emotion.
Full story: The Passion of the Gui
Few figures have contributed so much to the progression of SUP design as Jim Terrell. The “Mad Scientist” from Quickblade Paddles has been setting the standard since virtually day one of the sport, and his latest creation might be another great leap forward.
The Quickblade “Stingray” is a bold new design unlike any paddle we’ve ever seen. Looking sort of like a squashed pear or a funky banjo or …a stingray, this paddle has been getting rave reviews from the outrigger community.
We also spotted a prototype SUP version in the wild at Carolina.
The Sisyphean Challenge
The term “hardest” is generally quite subjective. Depending on what type of paddler you are, the hardest race in the world could mean a lot of different events. But there’s no denying Last Paddler Standing is up there in terms of “batshit crazy hard” races.
Last year’s inaugural edition was an emotional rollercoaster that saw Italy’s Paolo Marconi paddle 48 hours with no sleep to claim victory in what was one of the longest, slowest and most-watched races of the year.
Not only is Last Paddler returning in 2023 but more than half the pioneering class of 2022 has re-signed for the Sisyphean experience. That says a lot about the event.
The Dark Horse
In a time-honoured tradition that started with then-unknown Titou almost a decade ago, we have once again attempted to predict who will be the breakout paddler of the season.
This year we bestowed the honour of SUP Racer’s official “Dark Horse” pick on the shoulders of Spain’s Alba Frey. And she didn’t disappoint.
Alba took second place in Santa Pola behind her unstoppable compatriot, Espe, to claim her second Euro Tour of the podium in what was one of the most-competitive races we’ll see all season.
What will the highlights be this month?
We’ve got some big interviews and a few leftfield stories coming up over the next few weeks, so check back on supracer.com for daily updates…