Madeira Island Sup Challenge 2023 Ones to watch: Swiss SUP Champion Anna Tschirky

The countdown is on to Madeira Island Sup Challenge (MISC), the next stop of the EuroTour, taking place on 27-28 May, in Madeira Island, a stunning archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean and located about 900km from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

TotalSUP caught up with Anna Tschirky, 6x Swiss National Champion and a SUP force to be reckoned with, to chat about the upcoming event and the decision to go board sponsor-free this year.

Photo credit: / Ice Race Thun 2023

Hi Anna, welcome to TotalSUP and congrats on your 2023 ICE Race win, amazing performance this past weekend at the Lake Rocks Festival and an overall epic start to the season with GlaGla Race to mention just a few! Are the competitions going as you’ve planned and prepared for them?

Thank you for getting in touch with me, I’m a big fan of the TotalSUP content! The 2023 season has already started amazingly! Of course, I prepared for the races (maybe not as specifically for GlaGla where I did cross country skiing only😆), worked hard and planned my strategy before each event, but as the level of female SUP racing is higher than ever, I’m super happy about my performances so far! It’s exciting to compete with so many strong girls and push each other further in every race.

Photo credit: World SUP Festival Costa Blanca

You seem equally sharp and comfortable in gnarly, choppy conditions and on flat water? How do you achieve that?

As a flat water paddler from Switzerland, I’ve noticed that it was harder to perform well in ocean races compared to other athletes of my age that have grown up by the ocean like a lot of the young guns from the Spanish team for example. Nevertheless, I took those competitions as an opportunity to practice, learn and get better every time.

Photo credit: World SUP Festival Costa Blanca

Since my focus has shifted a lot more towards SUP racing this year, I knew that if I wanted to be able to compete with the best, I have to train in the ocean for a longer period of time to really see a notable improvement. Because in the end it is all the little details of someone that has more ocean experience that make a difference result- and time-wise, while you can be just as fit and trained but not able to use these conditions to your advantage.

That’s why I decided to spend two months earlier this year in Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands, to prepare for the upcoming season. Being there forces you to go out and train in every kind of conditions. We had some surprisingly flat conditions in the beginning with good swell but later on a lot of wind most of the time. Sometimes it felt impossible to complete an interval session as the wind was blowing so strong and I felt more like going backwards than forwards. But looking back, I think it’s exactly those sessions that made me stronger and are necessary to improve.

Photo credit: World SUP Festival Costa Blanca

In short, I think that if you want to get more comfortable in the ocean, you have to train on the ocean for a longer period of time. In the past I already went to Fuerteventura a couple of times, but “only” for two weeks and although this always helped me a lot, I think it is useful to be able to train at least 1.5 months at a time in such conditions to see a remarkable improvement.

Are you hyped on the Swiss SUP racing scene and the pace the sport is growing?

Unfortunately, the Swiss SUP race scene is not growing quite as rapid anymore as in other European countries. When I started paddling, the level was relatively high but since then has more or less remained the same, especially in the women‘s category. But I really enjoy the familiar atmosphere on the local races even though it would be amazing to see some more junior and females participating in the well-organized events!

Nevertheless, I’m happy to say that this year I’ve met one or two new faces who absolutely have what it takes to be future Swiss champions, their motivation to learn and improve is impressive! But despite the efforts of our association SUP Suisse (which works together with the canoe and surf federation), there is not a big increase in the women and junior divisions unfortunately.

What’s your favourite competition format and why?

My strength definitely lies in the long distance. Usually for me, the longer the race, the better. I can maintain a steady pace and not get tired for quite a long time. But that doesn’t mean that I only love and enjoy to paddle 18km straight, haha. My favourite competition format is actually a longer technical race, as I really like buoy turns and technical elements.

Photo credit: World SUP Festival Costa Blanca

I might not be as good as in long distance races but it’s a lot of fun because it’s really interesting to prepare a strategy, train specifically for the technical elements and to never know what happens until the very end of a race. That’s why I enjoyed last year’s technical race at the European Championships in Denmark a lot.

Apart from that, downwind is also really really fun – but it’s a discipline that I still need to get some more experience to know exactly how to read the ocean!

Next stop, Madeira Island SUP Challenge, what are your expectations?

I’m super excited to soon be on the start line of the EuroTour event in Madeira! It has been a dream of mine to visit this island since seeing the race pictures of the last years! And as I’m a big sport and outdoor lover, I can’t wait to not only race in the beautiful surroundings but explore a bit afterwards. I love trail running and Madeira is often described as a paradise for trail runners. So I’m really happy that I will have some time to explore before leaving.

Besides, the people behind the event seem to be very friendly and helpful and I’m looking forward to see my Portuguese friends again! As always, I try to give my best and aim for the top five finish.

What’s your board set up for the upcoming event? You decided to not have a board sponsor this year, will you be looking at some custom designs in the near future?

In Madeira I have the privilege to borrow a board from a local athlete, which definitely makes my travel a lot easier and less complicated. So far, I am very happy with my decision to be without a board sponsor for the season and by now I’ve seen almost only advantages of this choice. Custom boards would definitely be exciting but not an option at the moment as it usually takes a long time to get the board made. Also, I would limit my flexibility for travelling as I would always have to have that board on site. But regarding the points I made on one of my posts, it totally would make sense to have an board specifically designed for small and light riders like me.

Photo credit: / Ice Race Thun 2023

What’s after Madeira?

I will stay in Madeira for a bit before directly flying to Gran Canaria for the next EuroTour event which will be a beach race format competition. I’m really looking forward to go back to the Canary Islands before heading back home to Switzerland in June and have some rest after back-to-back racing weekends. Later this Summer the EuroTour races in Germany are kicking off and I will certainly compete in some of them!

Thank you for your time Anna. Good luck with the rest of the season and see you in Madeira!

To find out more about Madeira Island Sup Challenge and REGISTER, visit

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*Images courtesy of Anna Tschirky

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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