Driven by passion for watersports and cutting-edge designs, RRD Internationalhave grown from its epic windsurfing roots into a SUP and foil powerhouse with RRD Team Riders shredding the pro SUP racing scene globally. TotalSUP caught up with the RRD Team Rider Francesco Mazzei to talk about the growing SUP racing scene in Italy.
Hi Francesco, congratulations on your SUP racing season! What is the SUP racing scene like in Italy?
Thanks a lot! It was a very long and good racing season but also a lot of fun. In Italy, when it comes to the racing scene at the moment, we have the possibility to participate in two circuits. The first is the FISW (Federazione Italiana Sci Nautico e Wakeboard) circuit which organized about 8 races this year. The races took place both on the sea and on the lakes. The second circuit is called Italian SUP League (ISL), and they organized a greater number of races both open and flat water. This last circuit also organizes some winter races, allowing Italian athletes to stay in constant training. In both cases the competition scenarios are very interesting.
What are the competitions SUP enthusiasts and pro racers can enter in Italy?
The most interesting competitions from my point of view and to which I have participated in the current year are those organized by the Italian SUP League circuit. I have chosen them both because they are well organized and because they are carried out for the 14ft racing board fleet. I would recommend taking part in theLignano SUP Race, the Trasimeno SUP Marathon (I finish the 40km race in 2nd place) or the L’Etrusca SUP Race, remembering that the Italian landscape and the organizations never disappoint. There’s also the Open Water Challenge Oristano and the Florence Paddle Games held in Tuscany. I paddled there 2 years ago and took the win in the 12’6” board category. This is Italy’s premier SUP race where you paddle under the Ponte Vecchio! Simply fantastic and it’s coming back in 2020.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your collaboration with the RRD brand?
My collaboration with RRD International started about three years ago at the end of my first Italian SUP Championships which I finished in 3rd place in the 14ft division. Since then I have had the opportunity to be a part of the RRD Team.
When did you discover the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
I started with SUP casually. Up until four years ago I was doing road bike racing but after an accident I stopped and moved to stand up paddleboarding. This year I also opened a windsurf, SUP and surf school – Favollo Watersport Centre – in Marina di Castagneto Carducci.
What’s your current RRD quiver?
At the moment I am in possession of the Razzle Dazzle 14’0″x23’ Pro Race Board. In my point of view, this is a complete board that allows you to perform in any conditions. It’s a high performance board offering trim control in upwind with a cutting bow and also great on flat water.
As for the race paddles I use the Dynamic Pro Race ones, size M (85 SQI) for long distance paddling, while for shorter races or sprints I use size L (92 SQI).
As for the wave I’m still using the 2018 models, RRD I-Wave Pro V2, a super fun board for big and fast waves. When the sea does not give us great waves I have the possibility of using the RRD LongSUP V1.
For the foil sessions I go out at our Favollo Watersport Centre or Marina di Cecina where I live and in Rosignano Solvay, where there’s a big point break.
SUP foiling is really picking up. Do you think it’s all about the hype or will this watersport actually impact the SUP industry?
In my opinion foiling is a new kind of watersport! I think we cannot compare SUP surf with SUP foiling for example! It’s a different sport and all the brands invest a lot of time and money in the development. Also this year Eurotour introduced some foil downwind racing so I think it’ll became more popular, I hope!
What drives you as a pro SUP athlete?
Good question…I simply love every kind of sport and races. I like to train and just being out on the water. I chose the right sport!
Could you share your tips for people who are just starting to foil?
Well, the only tips I have is to choose the right board and the wing. For example, I started with a 150l board and a not too big wing. With a smaller wing you can control the first glide easily and safely.
What would you say to paddlers who are just starting their SUP adventure?
I suggest to have fun. It’s a healthy sport that gives all people the opportunity to experience the sea from a new perspective.
What’s next on your pro SUP journey?
I finished my racing season with a SUP marathon on the Trasimeno Lake, Italy. I finished the 40km paddle in 2nd place. I’m now planning a Winter surf trip and more training in Gran Canaria.
Thank you for your time Francesco and good luck with your plans and SUP racing!
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