Ricardo Rodrigues: let’s put Madeira on the world map of SUP Racing

This coming weekend, the last Grand Slam event of the EuroTour is taking place on the mesmerizing Portuguese island of Madeira. Ricardo Rodrigues, a prominent figure of the Portuguese and Madeira SUP Race and Watersports life, is coordinating the Madeira Island SUP Challenge as SUP race director for the organizing Clube Naval de Fuchal. The aim of this year’s edition: put Madeira on the world map of SUP Racing and showcase the watersports assets of Destination Madeira!

Hi Ricardo can you introduce yourself to the TotalSUP community?

My name is Ricardo Rodrigues aka Sapo, or Ricardo “Sapo” Rodrigues. Born on 1971, 30 of March.

I have enjoyed the Madeira sea life ever since I was born: fishing, canoeing, windsurfing, surfing, wingfoiling, these are the sports activities I have been practising most so far.

Sup came into my life in the winter of 2005 / 2006. Two American guys, Mike Campbell (Casper Steinfath’s father) and Tim Doyle brought this 10ft Bonga Perkins sup board to Madeira.

They made us try it for a few times and I found it a really good full body exercise. Since then I never stop paddling.  Catching waves, gliding on the ocean or running bumps on downwind…. When you live on an island, there is always something good to do for a sup session.

Between 2007 and 2010 some friends and I used to organize SUP events, especially expedition-style ones on the other small islands of the Madeira archipelago, as a way to promote the sup activities.

In 2012 I started to compete in SUP Racing and won most of the races in Madeira.
In 2014 I did part of the Portuguese sup championship and finished 2nd.
In 2015 I was the Portuguese champion in Technical Race.
In 2016 I got 3rd at the European sup surf championship in Lacanau.
In 2018 I was Portuguese champion in Long Distance.

And also from 2016, I have been coordinating and coaching the sup activities at Clube Naval do Funchal. From 2018 until today, we have won more than 20 regional titles in different youth categories and around 15 national titles.

Can you explain what the Madeira Island SUP Challenge is?

The Madeira Island SUP Challenge is a Stand Up Padlle Board event that aims at putting the island of Madeira on the SUP race map. We want the world to know about the potential this island offers within the sporting scope.

Being a region with good weather and water plans, watersports and especially Stand Up Paddling can be practiced all year round, in different spots (Ride/down wind or up wind, waves etc), a situation that allows those who visit us to have different options to choose from.

This event intends to grow in the future and cement itself in the European and world panorama as a reference event not only for the aforementioned, but also for the other possibilities that we make available to those who visit us, from getting to know the island, for the good reception, for the gastronomy etc etc.

How old is the event and how has it evolved until today?

The Madeira Island SUP Challenge started in 2017 with the aim of making the sport grow in the region and creating a low-cost event with attractive proposals for practitioners outside the island and promoting nautical sports in the Archipelago.

What are the specificities of the event (course, atmosphere, landscapes, etc.)?

The course will be with different mixing different conditions. The Funchal bay can be partly flat sea, but in the East and West, the water gets very choppy, with currents and bumps running against the wind direction. I would say, very challenging.
And of course, the landscapes are beautiful. It is possible to see the highest mountains from the blue clear waters, with also many cliffs in many parts of the course.

You have decided this year to join the Euro Tour circuit ? What is the motivation behind this decision ?

The integration of the Madeira Island SUP Challenge in the EUROTOUR Circuit was a strategy to try to make the event grow, giving greater visibility and notoriety, in a circuit that was very popular at European level.

The idea of ​​joining us in the next 3 years is to create conditions for us to have close to two hundred visitors between us in the next few years.

Can you give us more information on Madeira? What to see and do over there to make the most of the trip ?

Madeira is the first European Atlantic tourist region, voted best insular destination in Europea in recent years, with more than 220 years of tourism experience. It offers, in addition to a good climate, clear water with average annual temperatures of around 22 degrees, offering beyond the sea a luxuriant nature and fantastic gastronomic traditions. Madeira is excellent for hiking, landscapes, diving, trekking, bicycles, power surfing and more!

To find out more about the Madeira Island SUP Challenge, visit:

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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