Bilbao World SUP Challenge 2015: 10 facts to remember

The Bilbao World SUP Challenge was just an incredible event that many will not forget. The 4th leg of the Euro Tour offered hype, tension, excitement on the water and plenty of entertainment on dry land thanks to a professionnally mounted show with live music, merchandising and food allowing for pro-racers, amateurs and spectators to mingle over two days in the heart of Bilbao. Here is our top 10!

1. Titouan Puyo : King of Bilbao… and now he can sprint too

It took 4 attempts in the Euro Tour but he finally¬†did it! Titouan Puyo the french paddler from the island of New Caledonia is on top of the podium this time. A well-deserved victory after winning the sprints on Day 1 with a 3-meter lead over Connor Baxter and a couple more over Leonard Nika and finishing 2nd by a thread in an epic photo-finish sprint with Starboard comrade Connor Baxter. Humble, determined and strong, Titouan did a formidable job proving the SUP world that he could now be counted with¬†on the sprints ‚Ästwhich wasn't really his forte so far.¬†This is not the last stop of the 2015 Euro Tour for Titouan Puyo¬†aka T2 who is not the Unidentified¬†Flying Rider¬†we interviewed¬†last year when out of the blue¬†he showed up at the¬†France championships¬†and won them, qualified for the 2014 World Championships and won them too. He is taking a wee break though, not joining the Noja (Spain) or Marotta (Italy) events next week-end,¬†as he admitted feeling tired after a whole month of racing and travelling. However he¬†is considering going to the last stop of the Euro-Tour in¬†Namur (Belgium)¬†on the first week-end of July before heading back home to New-Caledonia.

2. Lina Augaitis : the machine

Just like Titouan, the Canadian rider from SIC couldn't leave the Euro Tour with unfinished business. Lina Augaitis, who¬†discovered she was pregnant just before making it to Europe three¬†weeks ago,¬†left no chance to her closest rivals Sonni H√∂nscheid and Angela Jackson this time, although she wasn't sure if she was going to take part in either races until the last minute on both days. The 2015 Fastest Paddler On Earth (Lost Mills, Germany)¬† won the sprints on Day 1 with unique speed and reiterated the next day to her own surprise. Lina won with an impressive 2 minutes and 22 seconds over Sonni on the Long Distance. ‚ÄúI just paddled on and it felt good, I was amazed I had so much lead over the other girls‚ÄĚ.¬†One more event to attend¬†the Payette River Games, and the future mummy will take a good rest.

3. Leonard Nika, a well-deserved podium finally !

Leonard Nika, the italian Starboard team rider has been waiting for his turn in this first Euro Tour. Despite an unusual really bad start in the sprints final (he was last after 20 meters), he managed to finish 3rd behind Titouan and Connor, thanks to a really agile and aggressive buoy turn move. While Connor took a narrow turn on the only buoy of the run, Leonard managed to take an even narrower one, squeezing in between Connor and the buoy and lifting his board over Connor's for a split second. A manoeouvre which clearly angered Connor Baxter right off, given the heated argument that ensued on the finish line and resulted in Connor's disqualification for unsportmanslike behaviour. Leonard animated the front of the race with Titouan Puyo in the Long Distance on the next day and was part of a group of 4 (Titouan, Connor, Arthur Arutkin and Leonard) that broke away from the rest of the paddlers in the last part of the race. He couldn't keep up with the rythm imposed by Connor and Titouan in the last 500 meters though and was pleased with a 4th spot.

(Photo: Eduardo Vidarte Charola)

4. Connor Baxter

Despite the sprint incident which disqualified him on Day 1 as described above, the 2015 ISA Technical race world champion, Connor Baxter didn't lose his focus on the rest of the 2-day event. He ends the competition on a high note, winning the 14 k Long Distance by 0'01 second after a very long sprint he initiated with Titouan Puyo 500 meters before the finish line. This is the final round of the Euro Tour for Connor who is now heading to Barcelona to get together with Starboard designer Mathieu Rauzier and get ready for the Barcelona Stand Up World Series. 

5. Shelby Taylor, the sprinter 

It is also the last Euro Tour appearance for Shelby Taylor who is heading back to Mexico after 4 consecutive week-ends of competition up and down the old continent. The Kentucky-raised racer finishes 2nd in the sprints, right behind Lina Augaitis and proves once again that she is an explosive paddler who is very dangerous on short techical distances. She has already proved this, winning the fun sprints in Mallorca on the first Euro Tour week-end with some very fast and agile buoy turns and did a similar job in Bilbao, although this time Lina Augaitis was here and on fire. Shelby is bringing SUP to Kentucky organizing the first ever SUP race there in September. We can't wait for her to give all the details on this on TotalSUP soon!

6. Arthur Arutkin: 3rd on the Long Distance and best Euro Tour result

Arthur Arutkin's 3rd place on the Long Distance is his last and best result on the 2015 Euro Tour. The young frenchman from Fanatic did an outstanding job keeping up with the Connor, Titouan and Leonard, and taking the lead over Leonard Nika in the last strokes of the race. Arthur ends his participation to the european series after a remarkable set of results, flirting with the podium every time: 5th in Sainte Maxime, 4th at Lost Mills and 4th in Bilbao. His time to be completely in the spotlight will come, no doubt about that!

7. The Portuguese en force

In the PRO category (ie. the 12'6 category) which covered the exact same distances as the Elite (14') both in the sprints and the long distance, three Portuguese riders took the top positions: José Cirilo (1st), Pedro Figueireido (2nd) in the Men's and Angela Fernandes (1st) in the Women's. I think it is worth emphasising that none of those top portuguese riders have a 14' board as the portuguese championship only has one category, the 12'6. So it would be interesting to see how these riders do when competing with Elite with equal conditions. Maybe at next year's Euro Tour? José Cirilo is Portugal's SUP racing champion and Angela Fernandes is just the funnest, funniest, most enthusiastic paddler you can get, travelling as much as she can to compete internationally. Portuguese SUP is on the rise, with lots of international riders training and surfing there and Portugal hosts a beautiful and varied national SUP racing circuit which shouldn't be left unnoticed for much longer.

8. Cyara Palenzuela, the Spanish grom to watch for!

Cyara Palenzuela¬†is 13 and wins every race she does. (period).¬†She is Spain's 2014, 2013 and 2012¬†under-18 champion and the¬†winner of the 2014 Atlantic Games. She is strong,¬†has an incredible technique and is just having fun out there‚Ķ for now. In Bilbao, she was not on one but on two podiums, winning both the amateur and the junior titles. The young athlete is already backed by a brand, SIC, trains at Hondarribia SUP Skola in the spanish Pa√≠s Vasco (Basque country) and thanks to her uncle and coach known as¬†‚ÄúTricky‚ÄĚ, she now gets to travel with her SUP. Give her a few more years and I am sure we can expect to see Cyara Palenzuela next to her idols Sonni H√∂nscheid and Lina Augaitis on Elite podiums.¬†

9. Short Long Distance for Jérémy Teulade

Jérémy Teulade was the unfortunate rider of the event. 30 meters into the race and his paddle broke in three pieces. The Starboard France athlete who organized a crowdfunding campaign with his brother Ludovic to fund their Euro Tour, was obviously absolutely gutted and had to come back to shore on the safety boat to receive a sympathetic round of applause from the watching crowd, cheering him up a bit. Better luck next time Jérémy!

10. No official overall results published yet.

It's now Friday, 5 days after the event and no official overall results have been published so far. We have been waiting for them to come all week and/or an official statement from the Euro Tour on why they didn't. But can no longer wait to publish our 2015 Bilbao World SUP Challenge recap though. I guess this will be the little grain of sand in what has been an otherwise truly AMAZING event put together by the local SUP club BWaters with the help of the Euro Tour, casting a bit of mystery over the final results.

Anyway, here is what we have gathered so far on the matter:
‚Äď As explained aboved, Connor Baxter who finished 2nd on the sprints on Day 1 was disqualified for unsportsmanlike behaviour. After winning the Long Distance, to everyone's surprise (including his)¬†Connor was presented to the public as being the overall¬†2nd of the competition.¬†
‚Äď Leonard Nika who assumed that with a 2nd position on the sprints (he was 3rd before¬†Connor's disqualification) +¬†a 4th position on the Long Distance + Arthur Arutkin not making it to the final on the Sprints, the overall 2nd spot was his. He also discovered right when he was called to¬†the podium that he was 3rd behind Connor ‚Ķ¬†and was not super happy about it.

‚Äď Various riders¬†voiced their concerns about their own ranking and the organizers presented them the top 10 overall¬†results and gave¬†them verbally their positions from a piece of paper, raising even more doubts between them.¬†
‚Äď Each individual¬†race result is easy to find. Just go to¬†
‚Äď But after calling various racers, it appears that¬†they are still waiting for the¬†final Overall results to be revealed and¬†the Euro Tour and World Ranking tables updated accordingly.¬†

Let's hope they will pop soon!

Next stop of the Euro Tour, another double-date: Noja in Cantabria, Spain and Marotta, Italy.

… Oh yeah and Chase Kosterlitz is a cool guy! hehe

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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