Spain’s Landmark Team Victory at EUROSUP 2023

The adventures of Team Spain through EUROSUP 2023, the European SUP  Championships organized in Peniche, Portugal last week, could not have ended on a better note for the national team. After securing the world runner-up title just a few weeks ago at the ISA World SUP & Paddleboard Championship in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, they have now claimed the crown of the old continent for the very first time. After 6 years of French domination in 4 editions of EUROSUP, and in a competition marked by challenging yet beautiful conditions, the athletes under the guidance of national coaches Oscar Ruíz and Manuel Simoncelli and Team Manager Carlos López, managed to prevail over tough rivals finishing in front of 3 other southern European nations: France, Portugal, and Italy.


El Torero Augusto García – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

Laughters and Tears in the SUP Surf Competition

The competition started on a high note for Team Spain, securing three gold medals in the SUP Surf discipline. 14 year old Julieta Rodriguez Villamil demonstrated her prowess by dominating the Junior Girls category, while Joan Garcia showcased his skills to claim gold in the Junior Boys division. Alazne Aurrecoechea continued Spain’s winning streak by clinching the gold medal in the Women’s event.

14-year-old Julieta Rodriguez Villamil – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

Joan Garcia – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

However, there was a major upset for Iballa Ruano Moreno, the 2017 European Champion who was set to win a 2nd European title. She had been dominating the Women’s SUP Surf final when, in an unexpected turn of events, she interfered with a wave surfed by the French athlete Caroline Angibaud, who had priority, in the last minute of the competition. As a result, Iballa lost the score of back-up wave as well as her almost-gained title and had to settle for a copper medal when the judges announced the interference after the horn had sounded.

In the Men’s SUP Surf competition, the battle between France and Spain was once again intense. “El Gato” Juan de los Reyes and last year’s EUROSUP champion Guillermo Carracedo displayed remarkable skills, earning silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Juan de los Reyes “El Gato” – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

No Gold but 4 medals in the Sprints

Moving on to the Sprints, Spain may not have secured a gold medal, but they still made an impressive showing. Duna Gordillo and Elene Etxeberria both captured silver medals, while Augusto Garcia and Alba Alonso Frey brought home a bronze and a copper medal in the junior boys and the women’s respectively.

Make way for the Long Distance queens

Spain regained its winning momentum with a remarkable performance in the Long Distance event on Wednesday, despite gnarly conditions mixing a huge wave bar to paddle through, treacherous currents and swells and a tremendous shorebreak to surf all the way to the finish line. Duna Gordillo and Esperanza Barreras took the first and second places, solidifying Spain’s position as a strong contender in the competition.

Duna Gordillo – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

The competition also showcased remarkable performances by the Juniors from Team Spain. Alexia Soto, representing the Daniel Parres club in Alicante, earned a well-deserved silver medal, adding to the country’s medal tally. In the Men’s Junior category, Aaron Sanchez displayed his skills and secured a bronze medal, while Joan Garcia excelled once again in the Junior Boys division, also clinching a bronze medal.

As the competition progressed, Team Spain found themselves at the top of the leaderboard on Wednesday night, setting a strong pace and demonstrating their competitive prowess. However, a significant intermission of two full days intervened before the final showdown between France and Spain, which was highly anticipated and poised to determine the ultimate victor. The stage was set for an intense battle on the last day of the competition, scheduled for Saturday.

The Spanish Tormenta wins the relay and the title

On the last day of the competition, which happened to be Saturday, a massive swell and big waves forced a relocation to Praia Gamboa on the opposite side of the Baleal Bay, where challenging conditions prevailed throughout the day.

Elene Etxeberria from San Sebastian made a remarkable comeback and secured her second silver medal of the week. Augusto Garcia, “El Torero”, with his exceptional performance, caught the winning wave and claimed his first European title. Following this victory, Esperanza Barreras won a well-deserved bronze medal, and Antonio Morillo finished as the runner-up in the men’s category.

Antonio Morillo – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

With France managing to secure two new gold medals, one silver and one copper through the efforts of Clément Colmas, Mélanie Lafenêtre, Simon Ackermann and Julia Risso, it all came down to the relay race. In an epic final deciding event, Manuel Hoyuela from Suances, Cantabria, set the tone by winning his relay leg. He then handed off to Duna Gordillo from Mallorca, followed by Esperanza Barreras from Fuerteventura and an ecstatic Antonio Morillo from Andalucia, who crossed the finish line in first position. This not only meant a victory for Team Spain in the relay race but also secured them the coveted EUROSUP 2023 title!

Manuel Hoyuela – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

Later, during the last podium ceremony of the week, Team Captain Iballa Ruano Moreno was able to put back a huge smile on her face as she was presented with the Team trophy by the Mayor of Peniche, Henrique Bertino. It was a moment of great pride and accomplishment for Team Spain, capping off a challenging yet triumphant competition.

Team Spain on Day 1 – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

Team Spain on Day 8 – Photo by Miguel Sacramento Photography

Team Spain EUROSUP 2023 medals

Duna Gordillo / Women
Long Distance European Champion
2nd Sprints
Team Relay European Champion

Joan Garcia / Junior Boys
SUP Surf European Champion
3rd Long Distance

Augusto Garcia / Junior Boys

Technical Race European Champion
3rd Sprints

Julieta Rodriguez Villamil / Junior Girls

SUP Surf Junior European Champion

Elene Etxeberria / Junior Girls
2nd Sprints
2nd Technical Race

Esperanza Barreras / Women
2nd Long Distance,
3rd Technical Race
Team Relay European Champion

Antonio Morillo / Men

2nd Technical Race
Team Relay European Champion

Alexia Soto / Junior Girls

2nd Long Distance

Aaron Sanchez / Men

3rd Long Distance

Manuel Hoyuela / Men

4th Technical Race Copper Medallist,
Team Relay European Champion

Alba Alonso Frey / Women
4th Sprints

Iballa Ruano Moreno / Women
4th SUP Surf

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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