L-R: Casper Steinfath (Bronze), Connor Baxter (Silver), Mo Freitas (Gold). | Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
VORUPØR, Denmark - Hawaii's Mo Freitas earned his first-ever ISA Gold Medal over the weekend to become World Champion in the SUP Technical Race at the 2017 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Vorupør, Denmark. Freitas got off to a rough start in the race after falling rounding a buoy on the second lap, moving him out of the lead pack. With what seemed like an insurmountable gap between Freitas and the leaders, Freitas quickly caught back up to salvage his chance of winning Gold.
Freitas trailed his teammate Connor Baxter (Starboard) and Denmark's Casper Steinfath (Naish) on the final straight away to the beach and in a show of inspiring strength and endurance, he surpassed Steinfath to simultaneously cross the finish line with Baxter. The finish was too close to call, and after moments of replay review it was determined that Freitas had beaten Baxter by two tenths of a second, with Baxter taking the Silver and Steinfath taking the Bronze.
Team Hawaii's Mo Freitas and Connor Baxter battling for the Gold. | Photos: ISA / Ben Reed
"The emotion is just flowing right now," said Freitas. "So many times I've finished in second or third and I've finally won.
"Connor Baxter is such a great paddler and today I am just overwhelmed with joy.
"I fell on a buoy turn, but it put me in a place to catch a bump that allowed me to catch back up to the leaders. There was still one more lap to go and I had a game plan the entire time. I wanted to stick in the back and it worked."
Left: Jordan Mercer / Right: Lachie Landsdown | Photos: ISA / Ben Reed
Australia swept the Paddleboard Technical Races with Jordan Mercer and Lachie Lansdown repeating their Distance Race Gold Medal feats accomplished in Copenhagen earning Technical Race Gold in Vorupør on Denmark's northwest coast.Jordan Mercer, the most decorated ISA athlete of all-time, kicked off the series of four Technical Races Finals with another dominating Paddleboard performance, earning her tenth individual ISA Gold Medal.
"To be out there healthy and feeling fit is incredible," said Mercer. "To be back racing and able to go as fast as I want to go is something that I really missed this past year with injuries.
"Today I had the opportunity to defend my title, but more importantly to inspire my teammates. We are just over the halfway mark really and this is when the points start to count."
Lachie Lansdown followed Mercer's Gold Medal with another Paddleboard Gold for Australia in the Men's Division. Lansdown and New Zealand's Sam Shergold seemed to be in another nail-biter, similar to their photo finish in the Paddleboard Distance Race in Copenhagen, however Lansdown was able to push ahead and build a lead, comfortably finishing with the Gold Medal.
"This is huge," said Lansdown. "The Technical Race is the one Gold that I haven't got yet. I finished second twice, so I am glad that I finally got the Gold.
"This is great for Team Australia as this will help out with the team points. I know that we are close to the lead now."
Annabel Anderson. | Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
The Women's SUP Technical Race was once again won by another Gold Medalist from the Copenhagen leg of the event. New Zealand's Annabel Anderson, the Women's SUP Distance Race Gold Medalist, continued her dominance in Women's SUP and handily won the Technical Race, earning another Gold Medal for Team New Zealand.
"Thank you Team New Zealand and all those that made it possible for me to be here," said Anderson. "I have the flag and won two Golds, but we are going to give it our all in the relay tomorrow and see if we can get that top spot to win Team Gold. That would cap off the ultimate week in Cold Hawaii."
The best women in the world at Technical Racing. | Photos: ISA / Sean Evans
With just the Team Relay Race to decide the Team World Champion on Sunday, Team Australia surged into the lead ahead of Team France and Team New Zealand. Australia has their fate in their own hands, as a Gold in the Team Relay Race on Sunday would lead to their fifth Team Gold Medal in the event's sixth year.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre, said:
"Today's SUP Technical Races were nothing short of spectacular. The finish that we witnessed in the Men's SUP Technical Race may go down in history as the greatest SUP race of all time.
"The world's best SUP and Paddleboard racers pushed the limits of the sport to new levels today. This ISA World Championship allows the best SUP athletes to show the world their talents. The ISA continues to be the only international federation running SUP World Championships.
"The race in the team point standings is as close as ever and the team title is going to come down to tomorrow's Team Relay. This will mark a historic moment for the sport as the first Gold Medalist in the event's history will be crowned in Europe."
A race to the finish. | Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
Women's Paddleboard Technical Race
- Gold - Jordan Mercer (AUS)
- Silver - Jasmine Smith (NZL)
- Bronze - Katrine Zinck (DEN)
- Copper - Flora Manciet (FRA)
Men's Paddleboard Technical
Gold - Lachie Lansdown (AUS)
Silver - Sam Shergold (NZL)
Bronze - Julien Lalanne (FRA)
Copper - Bart Schade (USA)
Women's SUP Technical Race
- Gold - Annabel Anderson (NZL)
- Silver - Olivia Piana (FRA)
- Bronze - Terrene Black (AUS)
- Copper - Fiona Wylde (USA)
Men's SUP Technical Race
- Gold - Mo Freitas (HAW)
- Silver - Connor Baxter (HAW)
- Bronze - Casper Steinfath (DEN)
- Copper - Bruno Hasulyo (HUN)
For more news on the ISA World SUP Championships in Denmark click HERE.