The Spring SUP Race Crowns International Stars and Ignites the Season

The 7th edition of the Spring SUP Race, organized by Simone Tugnoli Peron and Delta SUP, took place amidst the serene beauty of Comacchio, Italy, nestled on the shores of Lago delle Nazioni. What began as a regional affair has now blossomed into a major international event, marking the inaugural spectacle of the 2024 season and standing proudly as one of the four esteemed ICF SUP World Circuit competitions. With an impressive turnout of 310 athletes hailing from 24 nations across four continents, the event showcased the global allure of stand-up paddleboarding. Divided into six categories per gender, ranging from the youthful U12 Kids to seasoned +50 Masters, the competition attracted some of the most formidable talents in the sport, including 30 top international athletes. The vibrant gathering saw the convergence of many past ICF world champions and podium medallists from recent years, adding a layer of prestige to the proceedings. Against the backdrop of the idyllic Lago delle Nazioni, participants and spectators alike were treated to three days of exhilarating races amidst sunny and hot conditions. The holiday resort Spiaggia Romea provided a comfortable retreat for all attendees, enhancing the camaraderie and excitement surrounding the event. Photos courtesy of Frank Monroe, Sarah Thornely and Maximiliano Alberti.

2 silver medals for Susak Molinero

Day 1 & 2 – Technical Race

The Technical Race unfolded on a meticulously designed 400m course, featuring a challenging arrangement of 3 left-turn buoys and 3 right-turn buoys. Athletes navigated this intricate circuit, pushing the limits of their skill and agility, with varying lap requirements depending on the stage of the competition.

Open Women:

The Open Women’s division bore witness to a spectacular display of talent and determination, led by the incomparable Cecilia Pampinella, a Starboard rider hailing from the historic city of Rome. With an impressive five world championship titles to her name, Pampinella wasted no time in making her mark on the competition, seizing the lead early on and maintaining her position with unwavering resolve until the very last stroke. Her commanding performance not only reaffirmed her status as a dominant force in the sport but also shattered preconceived notions about age and excellence, showcasing the immense potential of junior athletes on the global stage.

In a thrilling twist, the podium welcomed a promising newcomer to the international scene in the form of Katniss Paris, a rising star from Orlando, Florida. Paris’s meteoric rise had been foreshadowed by a series of standout performances on home soil over the past two years, and in Comacchio, she proved that her talent transcended borders. Displaying remarkable speed and impeccable buoy skills, Paris claimed second place with a performance that left spectators in awe and anticipation for her future exploits.

Meanwhile, Laura Quetglas, a decorated world and European champion hailing from Mallorca, Spain, opted to set aside her coaching responsibilities for this event, allowing her to focus singularly on her racing aspirations. This strategic decision paid dividends as Quetglas delivered a standout performance, clinching the bronze medal and reaffirming her position among the sport’s elite competitors.

Special recognition is also due to Marta Apanewicz, a stalwart of Polish stand-up paddleboarding and a multiple-time national champion. Apanewicz showcased her formidable skills throughout the race, remaining within striking distance of the podium until the final quarter, where she narrowly missed out on a top-three finish. Her tenacity and determination served as a testament to her enduring excellence and competitive spirit.

The Open Women

Open Men

The Open Men’s division witnessed a riveting showdown between some of the sport’s most formidable competitors, with Rai Taguchi emerging as the undisputed champion. Hailing from Okinawa, Japan, Taguchi faced initial challenges in the heats leading up to the final. However, when it mattered most, he delivered a faultless performance that showcased his unparalleled skill and strategic prowess. Employing signature maneuvers such as radical buoy turns and supersonic accelerations, Taguchi surged ahead to claim victory, leaving his rivals in his wake.

In a twist of fate, the podium welcomed a local hero in the form of Filippo Mercuriali, an underdog from the host nation who defied expectations with a remarkable performance. Known primarily for his prowess in long-distance events, Mercuriali showcased his versatility and tenacity, securing a well-deserved silver medal and earning the admiration of the hometown crowd.

Rounding out the podium was Donato Freens, the 19-year-old prodigy hailing from the Netherlands. Building on his previous successes at the Gla Gla Race, Freens once again demonstrated his exceptional talent and competitive spirit, clinching third place with strategic precision and unwavering determination.

As the Technical Race concluded, athletes and spectators alike were left in awe of the incredible displays of skill and determination witnessed on the water. With the stage set for further excitement in the days ahead, anticipation soared for the remaining events of the Spring SUP Race 2024.

Claudio Nika, Normen Weber, Micolaj Majdan and Donato Freens

Day 2 Afternoon – Sprints

Amidst the sun-drenched shores of Comacchio, Italy, the Sprint event of the Spring SUP Race unfolded with a mix of anticipation and uncertainty. While the excitement was palpable, participants and spectators alike found themselves navigating the challenges of an event marred by small organizational hiccups. Despite facing an unclear 200m sprint course, long delays, and a confusing finish line marked by a virtual line from a wooden pier to a buoy 80 meters away, the resilient spirit of the competitors prevailed, ensuring the completion of the event before darkness descended.

Open Women:

In the Open Women’s category, Cecilia Pampinella continued her unstoppable streak, adding another victory to her impressive resume. Just hours after clinching the Technical Race, Pampinella dominated the 200m sprints, crossing the finish line with a commanding lead of a full board length. However, the competition was fierce behind her, with SUNOVA SUP Racer Susak Molinero of Catalunya, Italy, unleashing a surge of aggression and determination to claim second place after a disappointing performance in the morning’s technical race. Meanwhile, Greece’s Rea Logotheti, the reigning Junior Sprint World Champion, made a seamless transition to the Open division, securing third place in her first year as an Open racer, despite facing stiff competition. Unfortunately, the podium missed the anticipated presence of Katniss Paris, whose promising performance earlier in the weekend was thwarted by a chaotic group start that resulted in her falling behind.

Open Men:

The men’s division witnessed a showdown of epic proportions as Cameron Tripney, the South African sensation and former Junior Sprint World Champion, returned to the SUP racing scene with a triumphant display of speed and skill. Despite facing stiff competition from former whitewater canoe world champion Normen Weber, Tripney emerged victorious, winning with a mere half-board length and celebrating his triumph with exuberance on the beach. Weber’s exceptional performance secured him a well-deserved second place, showcasing his status as one of the fastest sprinters in the world. Meanwhile, local hero Filippo Mercuriali continued to impress, claiming third place and garnering praise from his local club. With aspirations set on the upcoming ICF SUP World Championship in flatwater, Mercuriali expressed optimism about his prospects for the season ahead: “I like flatwater and with this year’s ICF SUP World Championship on flatwater in Sarasota, Florida, this could be my year”… well so far so good Filippo!

Filippo Alberti, Paolo Marconi, Sota Iwai and Tasos Tsouris

Day 3 – Long Distance

As the final day of the Spring SUP Race dawned, anticipation hung heavy in the air, mingled with a hint of uncertainty. The spotlight fell on the eagerly awaited 12K long-distance race, a grueling test of stamina and strategy that promised to push competitors to their limits. However, Mother Nature had other plans, as a recent storm had wreaked havoc on the nearby beach, rendering the open waters of the Adriatic Sea inaccessible. Undeterred, organizers swiftly adapted, relocating the race to the confines of the lake, stretching 3.4 km in length and necessitating two laps for a total distance slightly exceeding 6K.

Open Women:

The women’s division kicked off with a burst of energy, as Susak Molinero and the seasoned Swiss SUP racer Sabine Fischer surged to the forefront, leading a formidable pack of competitors that included the likes of Katniss Paris, Rea Logotheti, Cecilia Pampinella, and Laura Quetglas. As the race unfolded, Laura Quetglas emerged as a dominant force, carving through the water with precision and determination. In the final quarter of the race, Quetglas seized control, leading a trio of women that included Molinero and Pampinella, with Logotheti trailing behind. Despite the relentless pursuit of her rivals, Quetglas held firm, crossing the finish line to claim her second medal of the weekend, a testament to her unwavering strength and skill. Molinero secured the silver medal, adding another accolade to her impressive weekend, while Pampinella, though unable to achieve a triple crown, reaffirmed her versatility and prowess as a competitor.

Open Men:

The men’s division boasted a lineup of formidable contenders, each vying for supremacy on the water. Among them, Rai Taguchi emerged as a force to be reckoned with, harnessing his reserves of power to surge ahead and break away from the chasing pack. As Taguchi maintained his lead, a fierce battle ensued for the remaining podium positions. In a thrilling sprint finish, Donato Freens showcased his remarkable finishing skills, securing second place and etching his name among the elite competitors. Antonio Morillo, despite facing adversity in the form of a fall and injury in the technical race days earlier, displayed remarkable resilience to claim the bronze medal, a testament to his unwavering determination and grit.

As the echoes of competition faded and the sun dipped below the horizon, the 12K long-distance race of the Spring SUP Race drew to a close, leaving behind a legacy of perseverance, determination, and the unyielding spirit of competition. Though the journey may have been fraught with challenges, the triumphs achieved and the bonds forged on the water served as a testament to the enduring allure and camaraderie of the sport of stand-up paddleboarding.

Rai Taguchi and Donato Freens

In the other categories

The Spring SUP race stood out for its diverse array of categories, encompassing competitors of all ages and skill levels, from budding young talents to seasoned masters. With the inclusion of five additional categories – U12, U14, Junior, +40, and +50 masters – the event epitomized inclusivity and provided a platform for athletes to showcase their prowess on the water.

U12 Division:

Maya Bauerek of Poland emerged as a standout performer, securing an impressive haul of three gold medals across all events, establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with at a tender age. Meanwhile, in the U12 boys’ category, Italian sensation Fabio Salinari, known affectionately as “Ninja” from the SUP Academy in Taranto, dazzled spectators with his flawless technique and fluid maneuvers, leaving an indelible mark on the competition alongside Mikolaj Plmiczek, Matteo, and Mattia Tugnoli Peron.

U14 Division:

The podiums in the U14 girls’ division saw a sharing of honors among athletes such as Alice Cappelli, Lena Nowak, and Preziosa Chiarelli, each demonstrating remarkable prowess and determination. On the other hand, the U14 boys’ category witnessed a fierce battle for supremacy, with German standout Andri Hack emerging as the dominant force, while Italian contenders Jamal Mekkaoui, Francesco Rossi, Gregorio Ferroni, and Antonio Buonfrate showcased their tenacity and skill, providing stiff competition.

Junior Division:

In the Junior women’s division, talents like Sveva Sabato, Velia Pisanelli, Lisa Venturelli, Alexia Soto, Hana Kaminska and Martyna Drobny captivated spectators with their skill and determination. Notably, Claudia Postiglione, the two-time 2023 ICF Junior World champion, overcame early setbacks to secure a gold medal on the final day of competition. On the men’s side, Greek standout Nikolaos Malekakis shone bright, claiming two gold medals in the sprints and technical race, while Hungarian talent Szeno Szabo triumphed in the long-distance event, showcasing the depth of talent in the junior division.

40+ Division:

The 40+ categories saw seasoned athletes like SUNOVA rider Christian Taucher from Austria and Viktor Zollner from Hungary dominating the competition, securing multiple gold medals and podium finishes. Names like Alessandro Sapigni, Nicola Masci, Reza Nasiri, Elia Venturi, Narciso Madeddu, Vira Lemenkha from Ukraine, Silvia Carletti, Stefania Laico from Italy, Andrea Kämmerer, and Zsuzsanna Varga from Hungary also left their mark on the podium, demonstrating their enduring passion and skill.

Christian Taucher on SUNOVA

Masters +50 Division:

In the Masters +50 categories, Gabor Szabo, Daniele Cani, Holger Hassenpflug, Andreas Kämmerer, and Christian Bottausci showcased their prowess, with Szabo emerging as a dominant force with multiple gold and silver medals. Meanwhile, in the women’s division, SIC rider Ginnie Betts from Cornwall UK celebrated her debut in the +50 category with a triple crown victory, while world champion Penny Tsaoutou from Greece and Sarah Perkins showcased their resilience and skill, leaving a lasting impression on the competition.

For the full results, go to:

About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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