SIC Maui’s Spanish Star: Joan García Valero’s Rise in SUP

Introducing Joan García Valero, the newest Spanish recruit for SIC Maui. Hailing from the coastal town of El Campello in Alicante, Joan’s journey into SUP began at the age of ten. Formerly a dedicated surfer, his transition to SUP was seamless, driven by a passion for the sea. Under the mentorship of coaches like Daniel Parres and Óscar Ruiz, Joan quickly excelled, clinching titles such as Spanish Long Distance Champion and European SUP Surf Champion. Now, as a member of Team SIC, Joan’s ambition is further fueled, as he sets his sights on conquering the upcoming SUP racing and surfing circuits in 2024.

Could you introduce yourself and share a bit about your experience, including where you’re from and how you got into sports before SUP?

Hola Mat! I’m Joan García Valero, 18 years old, from El Campello, a coastal town in Alicante. Currently, I train in Stand Up Paddle with coach Óscar Ruiz, as part of the “OR Training” team. I compete for “Campello Surf Club”, a club I’ve been a part of since I was seven, practicing both SUP and SURF. I study Sports Higher Vocational Training.

Since I was young, my passion was surfing. I started surfing at Campello Surf Club when I was seven, the same club I currently compete for. In the Mediterranean, I could only surf sporadically when there were waves. Luckily, my family took trips to the north of Spain, Cádiz, Portugal, and France. Alongside surfing, I played football. At the age of ten, I started practicing SUP as part of the club’s activities. On days without waves, we began using SUP boards, a sport completely new to me, which I gradually grew to love. At twelve, I started competing in the Mediterranean Circuit held at my club. At fourteen, I had the pleasure of competing and winning gold in my category. Motivated, I decided to quit football since my passion had always been the sea. From that moment, I began competing officially.

I started my journey in Stand Up Paddle with Daniel Parres as my coach. I was part of the Parres Sports Club team from 2019 until the end of 2021. From January 2022 onwards, I continued my sports career in Stand Up Paddle with the OR Training team.
Starting with Daniel Parres, I easily grasped the technique, and I liked the atmosphere of this sport, both in training and competitions. It was a very healthy environment, and I became increasingly hooked. I started competing in the “Sevilla Sup Festival” and in the Mediterranean Circuit events, which motivated me further. With my current coach, Óscar Ruiz, I’ve also learned to manage results, to learn from mistakes when things didn’t go well, and to harness my potential.

Moreover, it’s a sport in which I’ve developed good physical fitness, with effort and perseverance, and it has become a lifestyle that I’m very proud of. From the beginning, I’ve made very good friends. The atmosphere surrounding Stand Up Paddle, both in and out of the water, has motivated me a lot to continue and evolve day by day.

Can you highlight some of your significant achievements in each discipline so far?

  • Spanish Long Distance Champion 2022 and 2023
  • European Sup Surf Champion 2023 (Euro sup)
  • Spanish Sup Surf Champion 2022
  • Spanish Beach Race Runner-Up 2023
  • Third in Europe Long Distance (Euro sup)
  • Sixth in the world Long Distance 2023 ICF Pattaya
  • Seventh in the world 2023 ISA Surf Technique France

Winning the European SUP surf championship is a notable feat. Could you describe what you felt upon achieving such a milestone in your career?

Winning the European Sup Surf championship was an unforgettable experience for me, as I’ve been practicing this sport since 2022.
I had been training Sup Surf for a very short time, but thanks to my coach Óscar Ruiz, and because I had a very good surfing foundation, I didn’t find it so difficult to improve quickly in this discipline.

Where do you train for waves and races?

For Sup Surf training, thanks to my coach Óscar Ruiz, I can train months before competitions with him in Somo (Cantabria), a place with very good wave conditions. When there are waves on the beach in front of my house, I take advantage of it to train Sup Surf.

I mainly train Sup Race in my hometown, El Campello, as the conditions of the Mediterranean Sea for training in this sport are consistently good. I also train a few periods a year with my coach Óscar Ruiz, with the “OR Training” team, in Fuerteventura and in Somo (Cantabria).

Can you tell us the story of how you were recruited by Team SIC Maui? What factors influenced your decision to join the team?

This year, the SIC brand wanted to include a spot for the International Team in Spain. They contacted me to offer me that spot, and I obviously said yes!

My decision was very clear once SIC made me that offer. Becoming part of an International SUP team was one of my goals. I was thrilled that a brand like SIC would consider me. Among other things, it’s worth noting the excellent quality of all their boards, and they are a great team and a very welcoming family.

Could you talk about your favorite SUP race board and why those particular models suit your style and goals?

My favorite race formats are the Long Distance and the Beach Race.
I love the Beach Race because of the excitement of competing with waves. In this discipline, you can go from being last to being in the top three, or from being first to being last, throughout the entire race.
It’s also a spectacle that’s easy to watch from the coast.
This year I’m going to race with the RS M, the XRS, and the new RST that I’m really excited to try out! I’ve chosen the 14X21 because I like to have stability on the board and great comfort when paddling.

Similarly, in SUP surfing, what factors influenced your decision on choosing the SIC team? Could you give us more details about the SUP surf quiver you chose and explain why those boards are your preferred options?

My decision was very clear once SIC made me that offer. Just like in Sup Race, I was very excited and motivated because a brand like SIC offered me this opportunity, and with the excellent quality of all their boards.
SIC boards are of very good quality, very lightweight, and versatile, adapting to any type of condition.
I have two boards and their measurements are: 7.0X24 70 L 6.10X23 3/4 67L

Looking ahead to 2024, what are your plans and goals in both SUP races and SUP surfing? Are there any specific competitions or challenges you’re targeting, and how do you imagine your partnership with SIC playing a role in achieving these goals?

This year, I have very clear objectives, which are the series of championships we have from April to June.
In Sup Race, we start with the Battle for Hercules, followed by the Spanish Long Distance Championship, then the Spanish Beach Race Championship, followed by the two Euro Tour events in Barcelona and Sancti Petri, and finally the ECA European Championship.
In Sup Surf, the Spanish Championship.
These races will be a key point for me to try to achieve good results to qualify for the ISA and the European Championship with the Spanish Team.

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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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