“We felt like rock stars” said about the event Andrey Kraytor who shredded the Sprint final to pieces and walked away with Gold. Agios Nikolaos On SUP 2023, ICF SUP World Cup and National Panhellenic SUP Championship, brought together elite national athletes and some of the world’s top riders and delivered on the promise: “This July the heart of SUP in Greece beats in Agios Nikolaos, Crete!” And, boy oh boy, it did beat!
TotalSUP caught up with amazing SUP athletes who went all in and turned the 2023 edition of Agios Nikolaos on SUP into a true spectacle and celebration of our sport. Here’s their recap!
Juliette said: It was such a fun weekend – three days of racing at a really cool venue with really good organisation and beautiful weather. It was pretty hot and pretty windy all three days, especially on the day of the Long Distance.
The Technical race was amazing. I had a lot of fun and made a good race, good strategy on the final and I walked away with the first place which was kind of a surprise but I also really, really wanted it so I was so stoked!
Day two, Sprint racing was very interesting because I’ve never raced one heat in the morning, one heat in the afternoon and then the finals at night so that was a new experience but pretty cool. Yeah, it was really cool because there were so many people watching the sprint final as there was also the cliff diving event going on with like five thousand people watching so that was fun.
The final day of the Long Distance – Downwind was a lot of fun, I got really fun bumps… It was mostly downwind so I was stoked as the day before they were saying it would be all side wind so I wasn’t really excited about that but it ended up being a great weekend overall.
Christian said: Amazing three days of action-packed racing over here in Greece for the ICF World Cup Agios Nikolaos. This is one of my favourite destinations for stand-up paddling. Beautiful blue water and the scenery is really cool, plus some awesome downwind conditions.
I am very happy with my performance in all three disciplines. It was cool to be able to do so many races in one event. I had a lot of fun and will be definitely back next year. A big thanks to the Race Director Mikhalis Farsaris and the entire organization for putting on a great event!
Paolo said: This is one of the best events of the year for me because the the location is so nice. It’s also one of the very few open ocean races in Europe and I always enjoy coming back here. In this case it was three days of racing, technical sprint long distances.
The Technical race was really nice with a very technical course and a lot of buoy turns. The Sprints final took place on a natural lake that was like an arena with, I don’t know, thousands of people watching. Personally I’ve never competed in front of this many people in the sprints and it was like an adrenaline rush for me and I think for everybody.
The long distance was really was held on a really beautiful course with lots of downwinding and some technical parts with side wind. It was really challenging with the heat and the top level of the athletes. So I’m happy about my result and I’m looking forward to coming back next year. I would like to say thank you to the organisers for putting this event on!
I had so many problems with no boards and paddles on the plane, lack of sleep and other stuff but thanks to the lovely community I was able to make it to the finals in Tech and Sprint, using a board from Union Paddlers and borrowed paddles. I finished 3rd in Tech distance and 4th in Sprint with a really close photo-finish with Christian Andersen. Then I had not energy to push hard for the Long Distance but I had so much fun on this wonderful Island!
Caroline said: The event was really great and well organised. My goal this weekend was to perform my best in the sprints and have some fun in the Technical race to prepare for the sprints.
The Sprint final was moved to the lake where we had a beautiful scenery with the cliff diving event happening just before us. We had a huge audience with thousands of people watching and it was amazing. It set the perfect mood for the race and I really think it was a special moment to do the finals on the lake. So it was amazing and I did my best, I felt really strong. For the final even though we raced for two days straight, I felt like I got into the right mindset trying to have the most fun possible. That’s always the focus when I go into racing – not trying to win anything, just trying to do my best.
So yeah, it was a great weekend and I’m super stoked about the result. I was preparing for the 200 metre sprints especially since Winter last year. I really want to be my best in the 200 metres and then I do other races on the side but I’m really into the sprinting this year. The short sprinting part. I feel like I reached my goal this weekend with winning this race and focusing on that, it was amazing feeling my connection with the water which was a lot better than last year and so the improvements are great. I’m stoked that I had my SIC Maui RS LV board to race on which was a great choice for this weekend with getting it up to speed and performing well.
Andrey said: Agios Nikolaos on SUP x ICF World Cup is in my opinion is one of the most well organised events during the whole season. The most important thing is that the timing is always as it’s on the schedule. It’s also very informative, we receive the newsletter months before the event and everyone who registers gets all the details and information weeks before which is very important and a well organised process compered to other events all around the world.
One of the most attractive things that we have here and what makes this event interesting for athletes is that we have three different race distances, each of them with a prize pot which is very important for people who are travelling on their own dime, who don’t have sponsors or a big support from their clubs or teams. So there were three chances to win something.
Also, the three different race locations was an amazing decision made by the Organiser Mikhalis Farsaris because we had an amazing Technical Race on the sea with a really nice course map and a lot of turns in a spectacular area for watching and the Live Streams, especially for Technical Race – It was top quality.
The Sprint finals were combined with a cliff diving event in the heart of Agios Nikolaos, it’s a small bay with the crowds made of around 6000 people watching. There was a big screen with the race on – it was a nice way of presenting athletes to the audience, kind of like it was done at the Balaton during the ICF World Championships. It made us, athletes, feel like rock stars a little bit because we competed in front of a big crowd with a lot of noise and it was fantastic.
The Long Distance race was a real ocean race with about 70% maybe 75% of real downwinding, with the surfing, with a massive start and everyone finishing happy after paddling the 13.5km with the support of the motor boats so we could feel safe.
I would also like to say a few words on behalf of Union Paddlers, we are happy to be a partner of the ICF and for this event and the stats say that we’re delivering nice services for the SUP community which is important for our sport. For example in the Tech finals we had seven athletes using our boards so that’s seven additional people participating that otherwise may not have. Next year we’re adding more brands to satisfy more requests.
What was also great is that after each day we were receiving a newsletter with links to results, pictures, start lists for the next race, the progression system, making sure that everything is clear, the race map is clear and everyone knows what to do. Because honestly there aren’t many events now where everything is clear and understandable. The feedback from the audience here was that when there are ICF races, they’re really nicely organised on this technical side. It’s really, really important to have this timing, these rules, all these clear instructions in place.
Filippo said: When I heard about Agios Nikolaos on SUP race I didn’t wait a second to book the flight to come back after my last time here in 2018. The place is simply amazing and also three different formats of races make this event so special.
I felt pretty strong in the Technical race but a big fall at the start took me out of the final.
Next day in the Sprints I managed to get to the final on the lake in front of thousand people and that’s what charged me and gave me energy to get the second place in one of the most spectacular races of my life.
During the Long Distance Race, I still felt the adrenaline from the day before and so my body was really strong, I ended up 7th due to the lack of ability to catch enough waves but I enjoyed that course so much – I will come back for sure!
Day 2: Sprints video recap
Day 3 – Long Distance Race Results
Cecilia Pampinella, Long Distance Winner | Bronze Medal in Technical Race | Silver Medal in Sprints
It has been three days of demanding competitions with very strong athletes from all over the world! I am very satisfied with my results in Technical Race and Sprints and I’m very happy with victory in the 13.5km Long Distance Race. Long distance is one of my favourite races and it was really fun with great downwind conditions where you had to test your skills in the open water!
Racing under the hot Cretan Sun in the Agios Nikolaos on SUP x ICF World Cup for the past few days has been an absolute blast! Not only did we sprint in front of a huge crowd in the middle of the city together with the cliff diving show but had some really interesting battles in the 1.4km start Technical Race where I unfortunately missed the podium by seconds. Nevertheless my personal highlight was the Long Distance race! With gusts so heavy that people fell off the board that then flipped around multiple times just before the start, nobody knew what we were in for in the upcoming 13.5km!
Luckily it turned out to be one of the most fun race conditions so far! With mostly downwind and only about 2km of side/headwind, athletes could really show their bump riding skills while trying to find the best line to complete the course that included one turn and multiple checkpoints to cross, including the famous channel.
I stupidly cut my palm on a rock which made everything a little more adventurous but fortunately the paramedics helped me out just before the race started and the provisional bandage including a plastic glove worked out well enough for me to secure a 2nd place. It was nice to be racing in such a stacked field of international elite athletes as well as get to know the Greek SUP community! Big thank you to everyone for the support during this trip and a special mention to the Organiser Mikhalis Farsaris who worked tirelessly to provide this event!
The race was spectacular and required a lot of technical skill and downwinding knowledge. There was even an upwind part to test your stamina in the middle of the race! This race was full of magical moments with wave riding and a lot of adrenaline.
In Agios it is always difficult to find the perfect board to race on, so a lot of people took their chances with narrow boards (just as I did) and it worked but for others not so much. This race saw a lot of very good competitors whom I respect and admire. I felt like it was a privilege for me to compete against them and would gladly do so again whenever I am given the chance. The surprising part of the race was that a lot of amateur SUP athletes attended and finished the race. I was especially surprised by the kids that not only competed and completed the race but by the time they completed it. If only you could see the joy on their faces – It was magical!
And finally the food after the race! You cannot compete in Greece and not had a souvlaki after the race! Thanks to everyone that made this race possible and to everyone that supported me and helped me come to this race – See you next time!
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