Belgian Sprint & Technical Race Championships: Results, Report & Replay

Last weekend, the picturesque lake of Willebroek, Belgium, played host to the 2023 Belgian Sprint and Technical Race Championship, a highly anticipated event on the SUP calendar. This thrilling competition marked stops #7 and #8 of the Belgian SUP Tour, which comprises a total of 10 stops this year. Organized in partnership with the Belgium Canoe and Kayak Federation, which hosted its national sprint championship on the same day and at the same location, this event attracted international participants from Belgium, The Netherlands, France, and Latvia. Photos: Charline Loontjens

The morning session kicked off with an adrenaline-packed 4-hour Technical Racing event that featured a challenging racecourse with sharp turns spanning a total of 5 kilometers. The races were a true test of skill and endurance, divided into six categories, starting with the Elite men’s heats 1 and 2, followed by the Women’s final, kids and amateurs races before the Men’s final.

In the women’s division, all eyes were on the remarkable performance of 11-year-old Marrit Mediema, representing SUP Club Makkum in the Netherlands and trained by Friedsland-basded Jorg Bossack. Her exceptional skills, speed, and maturity on the water saw her take an early lead, ahead of Belgian-resident and Latvian national Liene Karale. Belgian SUP Tour ranking leader Deborah Wouters, secured her first Belgian national title of the day by crossing the finish line as the first Belgian athlete.

On the men’s side, the return of NSP-sponsored athlete Kjell De Bruyn was a highlight of the day. After a six-month hiatus following a shoulder injury sustained in a road rage incident, De Bruyn showed impeccable technique and a faultless strategy, leading from start to finish and securing a well-deserved victory. The battle for second place unfolded between two Dutch athletes: Joep Van Bakel, finishing in 2nd place, and 14-year-old Maximus Sirjier, affectionately known as the youngest paddler to ever complete the grueling SUP 11 City Tour last year at the age of 13, who claimed 3rd place. Worth noting that three young paddlers aged 14 and 15 finished in the top 5, with French paddler Thomas Dussart and Benyam Bossack placing respectively 4th and 5th.

Winning come back: Kjell De Bruyn

14 year old Maximus Sirjier, 3rd.

The Fanatic Young Blood Kids Race, named after the iSUP race board designed for kids by the German brand Fanatic, was a crowd-pleaser. The Van Bakel brothers, Mylo and Tije, stole the show, outpacing their slightly older female competitors in a display of youthful talent.

An amateur race also took place, ensuring that participants of all skill levels could take part in the excitement of the day.



In the afternoon, the action continued with the 200m Sprints, featuring six races that saw SUP race athletes competing alongside kayakers. The event boasted a highly professional setup, including an automatic start system with nine gates and a metal stop to align the boats, ensuring precise timing and a fair start. The start orders were communicated directly from the timing tower through speakers.

In the women’s division, Deborah Wouters once again proved her mettle by clinching victory, claiming her second Belgian title of the day and solidifying her status as one of the standout athletes of the championship. Liene Karale scored a new 2nd place while Marrit Mediema climbed on her 2nd podium of the day in 3rd.

In the men’s sprints, Kjell De Bruyn once again demonstrated his lightning-fast start and impeccable skills. It was a repeat of the morning’s technical race podium, with Joep Van Bakel claiming the second spot and Maximus Sirjier securing a well-deserved third place. The consistency in their performance showcased the caliber of these athletes and their ability to excel in multiple race formats.

A special mention and heartfelt applause were reserved for Vincent Claeskens, the founder of the Belgian SUP Tour, whose unwavering dedication has been instrumental in propelling the sport of SUP racing to new heights in Belgium. Claeskens has also been a driving force behind the recently formed Belgian Surf and SUP Federation, further solidifying his commitment to the sport and its growth in the region. His hard work and passion have not only created a thriving SUP community but is also fostering the development of talent that will soon shine brightly on the international stage.

Congratulations were in order for all the participants, many of whom were not accustomed to the intensity of sprint and technical racing. Despite their relative inexperience in these disciplines, they delivered impressive performances. Their dedication and determination on the water sent a clear message to those who chose to sit this one out – the Belgian SUP scene is thriving, and the competition is fierce.

Kjell De Bruyn and Deborah Wouters – 2 x 2023 Belgium Champion in Willebroek

As the Belgian SUP Tour continues its exciting journey, there are two more stops on the 2023 Belgian SUP Tour calendar that promise thrilling action. The Bruges Classic, scheduled for September 24, will provide another opportunity for paddlers to test their skills and push their limits on the water on a 10k race with a twist. And for those looking to wrap up the year with a splash, SUP4Life on December 17 will be the grand finale of the tour. Both events are open to enthusiasts of all levels, ensuring that the spirit of SUP racing continues to grow and flourish in Belgium.

Results of the 2023 Belgian Sprint and Technical Race Championship

Tech Race Elite Men :
1) Kjell DE BRUYN (BE)
2) Joep VAN BAKEL (NL)
3) Maximus SIJRIER (NL)

> Belgian Podium
1) Kjell DE BRUYN
2) Bart Jagensers
3) Manuel Lauwers

Tech Race Elite Women :
1) Marrit MIEDEMA 11 ans ! (NL)
2) Liene KARALE (LA)
3) Deborah WOUTERS (BE)

> Belgian Podium
1) Deborah WOUTERS
2) Hélène BAES
3) Annelies VOS

Sprint (200m) Elite Men :
1) Kjell DE BRUYN (BE)
2) Joep VAN BAKEL (NL)
3) Maximus SIJRIER (NL)

> Belgian Podium
1) Kjell DE BRUYN
3) Dirk De Beuf

Elite Women :
1) Deborah WOUTERS (BE)
2) Liene KARALE (LA)
3) Marrit MIEDEMA  (NL)

> Belgian Podium
1) Deborah WOUTERS
2) Loranne VLEMINCX
3) Hélène BAES

For more information on the Belgian SUP Tour, visit:
Belgian SUP Tour on Facebook

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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