Over the past month, Starboard has been working hard behind the curtains to present a very competitive line-up of international athletes for 2023. With future recruitment announcements by the Tiki brand still on hold (drums…), 3 athletes and 1 adventurer have already been announced to make their entrance in the Dream Team: SUP racers Alba Alonso Frey from Spain, Cameron Tripney from South Africa and Linus Karlsson from Sweden, as well as Canadian expeditioner Bruce Kirkby. While 2022 was a fantastic SUP racing season for Esperanza Barreras, Connor Baxter, Michael Booth, Clément Colmas, Caterina Stenta and Daniel Hasulyo, 2023 should see the return in top form of two world champions: Fiona Wylde and Noic Garioud, both injured for most of last season (although let’s not forget that a limping Noic Garioud was able to win 2 silver medals in the Sprints and Technical Race at the ISA SUP World Championships in Puerto Rico!). In SUP surfing, 2022 ISA and APP world champion Benoit Carpentier will have to defend his titles and we are looking forward to seeing more of Zane Schweitzer and Riki Horikoshi‘s prowesses in the waves. All of the above, under the team management of Starboard’s oldest Starboard Dream Teamer, Ultra-Long Distance specialist Bart de Zwart. Here is the 2023 Starboard Dream Team (to date!)
The new 2023 Starboard Dream Teamers
Alba Alonso Frey – Spain
Within a few months, 28-year-old Alba Alonso Frey has become one of the greatest Spanish athletes in SUP Racing but watch out as she is although a great sup surf, surf foil and wing foil athlete. With only 6 months of preparation in 2022, the Fuerteventura-based achieved incredible results, such as the canary islands beach race championship or the Spanish championship in the sprints 1,000-meter distance, as well as being called up to be part of the Spanish team for the ISA surfing World Cups in Puerto Rico 2022. And most recently, winning the sprint races at the APP Alicante Open in front of a world and a European champion and finishing second overall.
Interview with Alba Alonso Frey at the 1st APP World Tour’s Alicante SUP Open (December ’22)
Cameron Tripney – South Africa
Cameron Tripney burst on the SUP race scene (and on our screens) when he showed race after race and all the way to the final that he was absolutely invincible in the 200m Juniors Sprints at the ICF SUP Worlds in Gdynia last year. Living in Cape Town, Cameron has been unbeaten at national level in all inland racing and is the current South Africa Champion in both the Junior & the Open Men’s categories for both Long Distance & Technical Race.
Here’s what Cameron told TotalSUP “Growing up and watching the dream team riders chasing world titles and winning multiple events just shows the pure dominance the riders have within this brand. There’s always more to a brand other than its equipment like starboard and that’s the people that create a family-like bond and is always something I look for when joining a team. I am excited for the season ahead, where I hope to compete at the highest level while I balance being an athlete with my studies”
Linus Karlsson – Sweden
A former motocross champion, Swedish athlete Linus Karlsson has been SUP racing since he first tired stand up paddling in 2019.
Now after just two full years in the sport, Linus has already managed to collect four gold medals at the Swedish SUP Championships (9 medals in total), and a top ten finish at the ICF SUP World Champions in Gdynia.
This is what Linus Karlsson said: “My goal is to become a world champion in the future. To be the best you need to be surrounded by people that inspire you, as well as having the best equipment! In my opinion Starboard is the best team out there and I’m so stoked to join the Dream team! My main goal for 2023 will be to keep gaining experience and to establish myself inside the top ten in the world rankings. The races I’m focusing on are the ICF SUP Worlds in Thailand & the main Euro Tour stops.”
Canada – Expedition, R&D
Canadian adventurer Bruce Kirkby has crossed Iceland by foot, descended Ethiopia’s Blue Nile by raft, traversed Borneo’s north coast by sea kayak, and crossed the Empty Quarter by camel. Along the way, he established himself as a world-class photographer and writer (National Geographic, NYT, Outside) with three best-selling books. After decades of expeditions spanning the globe – from Africa to Arabia, from Mount Everest to the high Arctic – Bruce Kirkby relentlessly pushes the limits of what is considered possible on a Stand Up Paddle boards. His SUP expeditions include traversing the outer coast of Vancouver Island, following an ancient coastal Grease Trails through British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, and rounding the capricious headlands of Cape Scott, Brooks Peninsula, and Cape Caution.
Bruce Kirkby: “2023 is lining up to be absolutely incredible, the brand-new 2023 Starboard 14×29.5 Sprint Expedition is being released, and I’m so stoked. I’ve worked alongside the Starboard design team on this concept for 4 years. It’s turned out absolutely amazing. And it is going to revolutionize expedition paddling. My first priority with the new board is top-secret mission. I’m a bit superstitious, so I won’t share any details until it’s in the bag… but it’s a mind bender.”
The 2023 Starboard Dream Team Women
Esperanza “Espe” Barreras – Spain
Born in Galicia, Spain, Espe Barreras moved to Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands in 2013, looking for new experiences after years of sailing competitions. She caught her first wave on a SUP surf in 2018 with the help of Iballa Ruano, and instantly fell in love with the sport. A year later, Espe won her first ISA World title. Since then she has won many national and international races including the 2022 ESF EuroSUP and the ICF SUP World Championship titles in Long Distance.
Here’s Esperanza Barreras’s quote: “I feel admiration for the Dream Team, we are all so different but with something in common: we love SUP and we infinitely respect the ocean. I am really happy to be part of this! This added to Starboard’s winning boards & paddles make my dream possible. My main goal for 2023 is to continue enjoying my SUP journey and working towards more world title medals.”
Fiona Wylde – USA
Race, Surf, Foil, Wingfoil
2022 was a tough year for Fiona Wylde, as she was injured for the first time in her career, could not compete in a single SUP Race, and only took part in one Wing Foil Event before she hurt her shoulder. Fiona has been so dominant in the stand up paddle world that few people know she won the PWA Junior Women’s Wave Sailing World Title when she was 17. At the start of 2015, her first year as a sponsored athlete racing professional, Fiona Wylde was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Fiona Wylde: “2023 is going to be a big year for me. I am starting from the bottom in terms of strength, but already I am confident that I will be able to gain back my strength and become stronger, not just physically, but mentally too for the season ahead. I will be competing in SUP Racing and a variety of Wing Foiling disciplines in the upcoming season. Starboard is the idyllic company for me to work towards my goals. Not only does Starboard have the best equipment for me to compete in a variety of sports, but the positivity my teammates, my work colleagues, and my bosses bring to the forefront of sports evolution, is second to none. We truly have the strongest team, both on and off the water, and I am proud to be a part of it!”
Caterina Stenta – Italy
Caterina Stenta grew up in the northeast of Italy, before she moved to Gran Canaria to train more in windsurfing. Few people know that she placed 6th in the overall PWA Windsurf World ranking in 2019 before she decided to focus primarily on SUP Racing. During the 2020 lock downs, she started trail running and is now part of team Salomon.
Caterina Stenta tells us how she feels starting a new season with Starboard: “Starboard makes not only the best boards on the market, but have a great team of riders and people working on the research and development of the boards. The team spirit I feel in Starboard is what makes the travels and races special to me. Starboard is a brand that cares about the environment and pays attention to the carbon footprint of the brand and the athletes, and this makes it a brand I admire and am proud of being part of. This year, you will find me competing at the big races on the Eurotour, at a few ICF World Cups and then I will preparing to achieve top results at the ICF SUP World Champs in Thailand later this year. I also plan to enjoy some local races to engage and invigorate my local SUP community.”
The 2023 Starboard Dream Team Men
Connor Baxter – USA
Living legend Connor Baxter has been a dominant SUP racer since the age of 14 year old winning a total of 9 world titles under different world circuits and federations. At 28, 2022 was actually one of Connor’s best seasons: 2 ICF world titles in the sprints and the technical race, 1 ISA World Title in the sprints and his 4th overall world title on the APP World Tour.
Connor Baxter: “I have been with starboard since I was 5 years old, back in the windsurfing days and ever since then starboard has been family. Between innovation and quality, Starboard has pushed the limits of what’s possible. If you want to be the best you have to ride the best. This year I have my eyes set on the 2023 Pan American Games which is the second-largest sporting event in the world down in Chile. Plus the ICF in Thailand will be another massive event to be at and finally defending my world title on the APP world tour. Can’t wait to be on the road traveling doing what I love.”
Michael Booth – Australia
Since winning his first ISA World Title in 2016 in Fiji, after years of watersports competitions representing his country in Surf Life Saving, Sprint Kayaking, Surfski and SUP, “Boothy” has won 5 more world titles in SUP racing, including 2 ICF World titles in 2022.
Michael Booth: “From the beginning, Starboard was the brand with which I wanted to be partnered. They are constantly pushing the envelope of what is possible with technology and design. Starboard creates winners and I’m fortunate to be one of them. Can’t wait for another amazing year of competition, coaching and design with the best brand in the sport. The upcoming 2023 season will see me racing more in Europe and America, more camps and clinics and just having fun on the water. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen. I’m hungrier than ever!”
Noïc Garioud – France
Since taking the SUP racing world by storm and winning top international races from the age of 16, including 12 Towers and the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge, French New-Caledonian SUP racer has been one of the most exciting SUP racers to watch evolve. Now 20 years old, the 2 x 2021 ICF SUP World Champion (Sprint & Technical) is hungrier than ever to take back his world titles in 2023 after suffering a knee injury which put him out for much of the 2022 season.
Daniel Hasulyo – Hungary
SUP Race, R&D
2018 ISA Technical Race World champion Daniel Hasuly0, is also known for having dominated many ultra-distance events. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, where the Starboard Headquarters are located, Daniel’s role with Starboard’s R&D has been growing over the years.
Daniel Hasulyo: “After close to 2 decades of cooperation, the growth of a colourful sport that allowed me, and many of my close friends to grow as a family, I can say, that I am a Dream Team rider that not only competes but is also deeply proud and dedicated to the creation of the best and fastest race SUP boards in the world. I feel that it is my mission to spread the same stoke that lit my fire among the communities of South East Asia for the love of the elements and keep living the search of infinite adventures and the joy of discovering new experiences.
This year is looking set to be one of the most exciting years of my life – I feel truly fueled up. There is a clash of generations, and a lot of motivation to succeed and I believe we have the best equipment we have ever created. The ICF World Champs in Pattaya will be where I am most comfortable; beautiful, hot and humid Thailand. This race will be my biggest priority to build around. My focus will be on all major Asian Races, the APP World Tour and the two ICF and ISA World Championships. In terms of goals for 2023, my vision is very clear. I want to win the ICF World Title and will do everything it takes to succeed.”
Clément Colmas – France
SUP Race, Foil, Wingfoil
New Caledonian Clément Colmas has been competing for many years at a high level in SUP racing with EUROSUP and ICF SUP Worlds podiums in 2022 and is also one of the world’s earliest, fastest and most technical wingfoilers.
Clément Colmas: “I choose to ride with Starboard to have the best equipment to optimise my performance. We really care on improving the products every years, it’s why I love the working with the design to create the most innovative products. For 2023 I will be focusing primarily on the GWA Wingfoil World Tour but I will also get myself ready for the ICF SUP World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand!”
Benoit Carpentier – France
Surf, Longboard, Prone Longboard, Foil, Wingfoil
26-year-old French athlete Benoit Carpentier is the current APP & ISA Sup Surf World champion. He also holds several French and European titles in SUP Surfing & Longboarding and Prone Longboarding.
Benoit Carpentier: “Starboard is the best SUP brand in the world and I’m so happy to have been chosen by them years ago and to now have the opportunity to work with them. 2023 is looking intense and exciting with many big events on the map and my titles to defend!”
Zane Schweitzer – USA
Surf, Foil, Wingfoil, Big Wave
As a multi-sport waterman, Maui-born-and-bred Zane Kekoa Schweitzer has been a pioneer in the evolution Performance SUP Surfing, Foilsurfing, Wingfoiling and Big Wave Surfing. Some of Zane’s notable achievements include being 2x Ultimate Waterman (8 Sport Ocean Competition), ISA SUP Surf World Champion, IWT Big Wave World Champion (Windsurf), 7x APP World Tour Event Champion (SUP), 5x Master Of The Ocean (4 Sport Ocean Competition).
Zane: “I grew up surfing and chasing waves and wind, and I feel so lucky to be able to make a career out of something I love,” says Schweitzer. “But it’s not just about surfing and windsurfing for me, it’s also about giving back to the ocean and making sure we protect it for future generations. With my relentless pursuit of dreams, experience and success, I want to uplift the people and my environment around me.”
Riki Horikoshi – Japan
Riki is a professional shortboard & SUP surfer, and has been the Japanese SUP Surf Champion for several years. Riki runs a surf school with his family.
Bart de Zwart – Netherlands
Ultra-Marathon, Expedition, Team Manager
Bart de Zwart, has been Starboard’s Dream Team since 2017. Known as Mr. Endurance for his ultra-distance paddling, crossings, and expeditions all over the world, the Maui-based Dutch waterman has been part the Starboard dream team since 2010. Bart has won almost any SUP ultra-distance race there is, including the SUP 11 City Tour 4 times and the 2018 Yukon 1000 (as in miles!)