Spanish Sweep: Fernando Perez Serra and Espe Barreras Triumph in India

Last weekend, Mangalore provided the perfect venue for the APP’s first step in India with the APP-sanctioned India Paddle Festival. The India Paddle Festival is the first step for international Stand Up Paddling in the region and Sasihithlu Beach provided the absolutely perfect venue to showcase the sport. A magical mix of Ocean and River conditions provided the ideal test for a selection of the World’s Best making it out for this special event and an ideal forerunner to the 2024 APP World Tour season that will be announced later this month.

India Paddle Festival Day 1 – Long Distance

Day 1 saw distance racing take center stage with a qualifier heat followed by finals format for the Men and a single final for the Women. The technical distance race consisted of a beach start heading out through the surf and then back in through the river mouth for a section up the river before heading back out.

The final leg saw athletes punching through the surf, round to the top of the course to wrap with an in and out through the surf to the finish. A dramatic course that provided the most comprehensive and well rounded set of challenges for the athletes, from navigating open ocean, surf, river currents and flat water to come out on top.

In the men’s category, NSP Rider Antonio Morillo from Spain arrived in Mangalore looking focused and ready to take on the world. Analyzing all aspects of the course, when it came to the final he was ready. After a great start, he bided his time through 2/3rds of the course, trading off the lead with SUNOVA’s new team addition Daniel Hasulyo until they came back to the river mouth to enter back into the Ocean. He took his moment to break away here and never looked back.
However, the win was not without its challenges, as another NSP racer Christian Andersen from Denmark a.k.a Polar Bear, who was riding on a new inflatable board from NSP was able to close the gap coming into the surfriding section of the course, and was just meters behind Antonio coming into the finish. An amazing performance by the young Danish talent and perhaps a sign of things to come with performance progression in inflatable boards. Right behind the top two was Fernando Perez Serra from Spain, who was right with Christian until the first beach turn, where a slight stumble in the shore-break allowed Christian to break away. Daniel Hasulyo from Hungary rounded out the Top 4.

A spectacular race, a dramatic finish and a great start to international stand up paddle racing in India, as well as marking the arrival of a new wave of talent on a local level, as Shekar Patchai, the current Indian Champion finished in 5th, with Mangalore local and Mantra Surf School ambassador Manikandan M finishing in 7th.

Antonio Morillo (ESP): 00:56:58
Christian Andersen (DK): 00:57:00
Fernando Perez Serra (ESP): 00:57:27
Daniel Hasulyo (HUN): 00:59:10
Shekar Patchai (IND): 01:01:06

In the women’s race, Espe Barreras put on another dominant performance to take victory. Espe Barreras is looking faster, more finely tuned and focused than ever as she prepares for the 2024 season. The India Paddle Festival is serving as a great warm up to the season as she joined the Men for the opening qualifier heats and still went on to dominate in the Women’s Final. After a great start, she never looked back, as she marveled at the beauty of the venue and the unique nature of the course. With every kind of condition to contend with through the race, the course provided a test of endurance, surf riding, open water paddling, river paddling and navigating complicated current flows that were permanently changing with the tidal flow coming out of the rivermouth.

She navigated the course with finesse and took the convincing win. However, a big congratulations to Irin Neegree from Thailand who was taking on a whole new set of conditions from what she is used to in Thailand and managing it with professionalism and focus. Likewise, the youngster from Italy, but now resident in Spain, Bianca Toncelli showed great promise in this international race in India.

Behind her and rounding out the top 4 was Su Jeong Lim, who accelerated through the flat water sections, but was learning fast in the challenging ocean conditions, coupled with the relatively extreme heat compared to her home in Korea. A great performance from this promising talent who will be looking forward to the Busan SUP Open this year that will take place from the 4th – 6th October this year, a place that she now calls home, committed to improving in the more open ocean conditions compared to Seoul where she comes from.

Esperanza Barreras (ESP): 00:59:37
Irin Neegree (THAI): 01:05:23
Bianca Toncelli (ITA): 01:08:20
Su Jeong Lim (KOR): 01:12:06
Monika P (IND): 01:37:34

India Paddle Festival Day 2 – Sprints

On Day 2, the inaugural India Paddle Festival in Mangalore concluded with a bang as Fernando Perez Serra clinched both the sprints and the overall victory in a dramatic finish. Following a stellar first day of competition, anticipation was high for the event’s closure, especially with the APP’s signature sprint racing taking place under ideal surf conditions. Spectators were treated to an unforgettable spectacle.

The early rounds proceeded as expected, with all top contenders comfortably advancing to the semi-finals. As the competition intensified, so did the level of performance, with favorites like Antonio Morillo, Fernando Perez Serra, Christian Andersen, and Daniel Hasulyo vying for the top spot.

The race got off to an electrifying start, with Christian Andersen surging ahead, closely pursued by Daniel Hasulyo. However, a sudden mishap by Andersen allowed the remaining finalists to capitalize on the opportunity. Fernando Perez Serra seized the moment, navigating through the confusion to establish a lead towards the final leg. Yet, in true surf racing fashion, the competition remained fiercely contested until the very end. Despite intense pressure from his rivals, Fernando maintained his composure and secured a well-deserved victory in the sprints.

In a thrilling dash to the finish line, Christian Andersen displayed remarkable agility, securing second place. Daniel Hasulyo followed closely behind in third, with Antonio Morillo finishing in fourth position.

With this triumph, Fernando Perez Serra claimed the overall event title, adding to his previous victory at the Busan SUP Open. Christian Andersen secured the second position with consistent performances throughout the weekend, while Antonio Morillo and Daniel Hasulyo rounded up the top four.

In the women’s, Espe Barreras reaffirmed her status as the one to beat on the APP World Tour with another commanding performance at the India Paddle Festival. Excelling in the sprint races, Espe showcased her prowess and clinched the overall victory with ease.

Thriving in the unique surf-style racing format of the APP, Espe delivered a flawless performance, setting a new standard for her competitors. However, amidst her dominance, emerging talents from Thailand, Italy, and India made their mark on the final day of competition.

Italian prodigy Bianca Toncelli impressed with a strong second-place finish in the sprints, while Irin Neegree secured third place, building on her earlier success in the distance race. Overall, Irin claimed the second position, with Bianca settling for third.

Korean athlete Su Jeong Lim demonstrated notable progress in the surf, securing fourth place in both the sprints and the distance race. Her performance signals promising growth as she gears up for the 2024 APP World Tour Season, set to return to Busan in October.

A special acknowledgment goes to the local participants whose enthusiasm contributed to the event’s success. With the foundation laid by the Mantra Surf Club and Surfing Swami Foundation, the future of paddle sports in India looks promising, poised for exponential growth in the years to come.

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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