On Sunday 15 October 2017, traffic in the Corinth Canal was interrupted for hundreds of ambitious paddlers, all lined up in front of the submersible bridge of Posidonia for the 7th Annual Corinth Canal SUP Crossing. This year the race was not only a milestone for SUP in Greece as a discipline, but also for the event itself. The number of paddlers signed up to compete far exceeded every prediction made prior to the event, reaching a record-breaking figure of 325, with participants hailing not only from every corner of Greece, but also from a host of other countries, including Cyprus, the UK, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and Russia, among others. In good company then, but in the end, it was two Hellenic paddlers that took home gold in the men’s and women’s categories respectively. Let’s take a look back!
The race itself, which started out as not more than a simple idea back in 2010, has transformed itself over the last few years into one of the biggest annual watersports events in Greece.
“The world’s straightest SUP race”, as it is known domestically, has been sparking an increasing amount of interest in the global SUP community, sending out a very positive message for Greece’s potential in terms of organising big SUP events, all the while highlighting and enticing participants with the rich culture and history that the country has to offer on the side.
The Corinth Canal is often referred to as one of Europe’s most impressive canals. The crystal clear blue and calm waters flowing along its 6.5km in length, along with the massive 80m high walls surrounding the vessels that pass through it, make for an imposing course for any SUP rider to paddle through.
The annual race is the only chance that individuals have to take on the canal on a SUP board as it is normally reserved for more heavy-duty maritime transport functions.
For this year’s event, the starting line was laid down at Posidonia, on the western side of the canal, beside the remains of the ancient Greek paved trackway of Diolkos.
The monumental setting meant the image of the participating paddlers awaiting the start of the race in front of the submersible bridge was quite a beautiful sight to behold.
The eerily calm atmosphere as paddlers assembled at the starting blocks before the horn blew soon turned into a battlefield as they set off, just seconds later.
The great number of paddles hitting the water all at once created a dramatic current, giving the momentary impression of a huge boiling swell, before the paddlers set out on the course, wave by wave, flooding the entrance of the canal.
A particularly remarkable aspect of this year’s event was the sheer diversity amongst the participants. This included younger children accompanied by their parents, women and men of all age groups, experienced SUP riders and athletes lined up alongside beginners and youngsters fresh to the sport, and so forth.
But they all had one crucial element in common: they all wanted to put their SUP skills to the test and have an amazing time in doing so!… and given the smile on everyone’s face, it seems that this passion for paddling shone through in the best possible way!
At Isthmia, on the eastern side of the canal, the finish line was nestled at the foot of the canal’s control tower, where every participating paddler managed to finish the race.
The organisers are very pleased with how things worked out for this year’s edition and they are already thinking about potential improvements for the next iteration. They extend a very warm and well-deserved congratulations to race winners, Greek paddlers Nikos Syrigos and Konstantina Kontarini, as well as each and everyone who took part.
Photo credits: sups.gr