VORUPØR, Denmark - Technical Races got off to a blazing start on Tuesday in Cold Hawaii in the North of Denmark, setting the stage for four highly anticipated, star-studded Finals in the 2017 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship. The world's top SUP and Paddleboard racers shined in the town of Vorupør, competing for a place in the Finals to tentatively take place on Saturday afternoon. The local sensation and Naish SUP athlete, Casper Steinfath (DEN), put on an outstanding performance to earn his pass to the Final, looking to win his second Gold Medal for the host nation after earning the SUP Sprint Gold Medal in front of thousands in Copenhagen on Sunday.
"I am finally competing in front of my local crowd at home. It's incredible," said Steinfath. "My dream came true on Sunday when I won the SUP Sprint. Now I have less pressure on me, but I still want to defend my title and win that Technical Race Gold."
The Finals are stacked with the world's top SUP and Paddleboard talent, such as Australia's stellar Paddleboard duo, Jordan Mercer and Lachie Lansdown, New Zealand's Annabel Anderson, Hawaii's Connor Baxter, the Hungarian brothers Daniel and Bruno Hasulyo, and France's Olivia Piana. Piana will attempt to earn her first Gold Medal in the SUP Technical Race discipline after having earned the Silver Medal on two occasions (2013, 2016).
Jordan Mercer, who recently overcame a family tragedy and a broken board to go on to win the Gold Medal at the Women's Paddleboard Technical Race in Copenhagen, expressed her joy to win her Semifinal heat and be competing in a location as stunning as Cold Hawaii.
"My board feels great. I am happy to be on my own craft after discovering that it was broken and I might not be able to use it. It's what I've trained on and am used to.
"It's been really special here in Denmark. This is my first time really getting to explore Europe and the cold of Vorupør is a welcome change compared to my hometown on the Sunshine coast of Australia. The contrast between Copenhagen and Vorupør is special to see. This little town is magical."
Denmark's Christian Andersen advances to the finals for the prone racing. | Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
In the second Men's SUP Technical Race Semifinal, Christian Andersen, the 16-year-old Danish prodigy, showed amazing poise and after falling back into eighth place, surpassed three competitors to finish in fifth, the final advancing position. The local crowd exploded in cheers as Andersen crossed the finish line. Andersen will now advance to the Final with the goal of becoming the youngest competitor to ever finish in a podium position in the six-year history of the event.
New Zealand, currently situated in the Team Gold Medal position, will remain in the top spot after Tuesday's competition, not losing any competitors. An inspiring moment from Tuesday's racing occurred in the Men's Paddleboard Semifinal. Argentina's Sebastian Bressen finished last in the race, but was brought to tears of pride and joy when he met his team upon crossing the finish line.
"Being here and representing Argentina is the greatest prize, the rest is all just the outcome of being here," said Bressen. "Winning and losing is what happens, but the joy comes from knowing my team is there waiting for me on the beach.
"All the emotion and smiles are because Team Argentina were missing a prone racer and a month ago they asked me to compete. Usually I am just a coach, so I only was able to train for a month, but I decided to do it.
"I am proud because I came here and competed. I finished last, but I completed the race. I got the most points possible that I could for Argentina, if I hadn't competed and we would have gotten zero points. I did it for the team and my country."
Argentina's Sebastian Bressen making his country proud. | Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said:
"Cold Hawaii provided the perfect platform for the world's best SUP and Paddleboarders in today's Technical Racing. The locals and the international delegations were heard all day supporting their athletes in the Semifinal races.
"We have the world's best SUP and Paddleboarders lined up to go for Gold in what is set to be epic Technical Race Finals to take place this weekend. I am looking forward to witnessing history in action as the event progresses in Cold Hawaii and eventually crowns the first-ever Team World Champion of the event in Europe."
The schedule for Wednesday's competition will be the following, set to start at 10:30am CEST:
- 10:30am - 12 heat Round 1 SUP Surfing Women
- 1:30pm - 16 heats Round 1 SUP Surfing Men
To see the heat lineups for the SUP Surfing, click here.
The full schedule for the remainder of the event will be as follows:
- September 6 - SUP Surfing
- September 7-10 - SUP Surfing, Technical Races Finals, and Team Relay Race (schedule to be determined according to conditions)
- September 10 - Closing Ceremony
To see more news from the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Denmark click HERE.