Spring SUP Race: Comacchio, Italy will host the 1st ICF SUP World Ranking event of 2024

The 2024 Spring SUP Race is fast becoming a highlight in the global SUP calendar. Orchestrated by Simone Tugnoli Peron from DELTA SUP and his dedicated team, this 1st event of the 2024 ICF SUP Circuit not only showcases the beauty and challenge of the sport but also reflects the vibrant SUP community that has flourished under their guidance. As the event draws near (April 5-7), discover what makes the Spring SUP Race a unique blend of competitive spirit, community bonding, and an unforgettable experience for participants. Remember: the early booking until 18th February! We explore with Simone the race’s new features, and the welcoming atmosphere that awaits competitors from around the world. And don’t forget to watch the whole event LIVE on the TotalSUP Facebook page!

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Simone, your journey with water sports has been remarkable. Could you share the essence of this journey and your current endeavors in the world of paddleboarding?

My name is Simone Tugnoli Peron, I’m 39 and I live in Ferrara. I adore all water sports, though I only started engaging with them at university, transitioning from running to watersports. I’m the president of the Delta SUP team, and a Stand Up Paddle instructor for the Italian Canoe Kayak Federation (FICK), also serving as the national team’s technical head since 2023. My passion for SUP ignited about 12 years ago when, as a windsurfer tired of waiting for the wind, I started improvising my first strokes. Soon, I found myself racing and traveling across Italy and then the world, searching for new challenges. To avoid being alone and to have company, I studied, got my coaching certificate, and began teaching. Before long, I found myself teaching more than training. And here I am, now dedicating more to teaching than to my own training, trying to transmit my passion to the younger ones!

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Hosting the 1st ICF SUP World Ranking event of 2024 must be exhilarating yet demanding. How do you feel?

Being in my shoes is not something I’d wish on anyone… I’m overjoyed but at the same time laden with stress and work. Thankfully, I have a great team and many friends all over Italy who are always ready to help. I tend to be very precise in my approach, which means I invest a lot of effort and time in what I do. Last year, I felt a lot of tension as the competition approached and the number of participants increased, and it was only weeks later that I realized how significant the 2023 edition had been for Italy. In 2024, my tension and mood may worsen, but I work well under pressure, so it’s going to be a fantastic event!

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With the 7th Spring SUP Race on the horizon and its second ICF World Ranking, what are you keeping from the last years and what are you changing?

The Spring SUP Race began as a challenge in 2018, a race in a place where only about ten people practiced SUP and only I competed. Over time, our club has grown. We’ve travelled a lot, and from all the races, we’ve tried to bring back the best elements to the Spring SUP Race and improve them if possible. The 2023 edition was the first ICF World Ranking in Italy and was magnificent in many ways, but there’s always room for improvement. For instance, we’ll modify the start of the long race and it will be a beach start to reduce the time athletes spend waiting in knee-deep water, which might still be a bit chilly. We’re taking inspiration from “The Lake Rocks” for the technical race, meaning a shorter course in the qualifiers and a longer one in the final stages (Rudy Van Haven is one of the organizers I respect and take inspiration from the most). But the biggest improvement will be the live video and especially Mathieu’s commentary! I believe having a great event is the foundation – the athletes compete and have fun, but then we need to export our sport beyond our small circle of athletes, and for that, videos, photos, and live streaming are crucial!

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Delta SUP Club is a vibrant community. Could you tell us more about the your activities, members, and plans for this year?

Delta SUP is my second family – although my son competes with me and my wife often accompanies me on trips, so you could say the club is my extended family. We’ve grown significantly over time! Our main activities are SUP Racing and SUP and canoe schools for the younger ones. We currently have about twenty kids under 14 practicing SUP and canoe all year round, which triples in the summer with the summer camps. We also have a large number of athletes of all ages, from 10 to 70 years old. At every race in Italy, there are never less than 20 athletes from Delta SUP. In total, in 2023, we surpassed 200 members, including the many people who only take basic courses or tourist courses, which, fortunately, I don’t manage… but I have wonderful instructors who do it with passion. I mainly deal with the competitive group. This year, we have many races planned in Italy and abroad: Austria, Hungary, and Crete for sure… and then I will also go to the ICF World Championships and hope to bring some teammates with me…

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Filippo Mercuriali is a standout athlete in your club. How did his last year unfold, and what are the aspirations for 2024?

Filippo is one of the strongest athletes in Italy, but he’s also intelligent and capable of transmitting his passion for SUP without ever being arrogant or letting his superiority weigh on others. That’s why I respect him and am thrilled to have him on the team. Even though we train in two different areas, him in Rimini and me in Comacchio, we communicate, discuss, and whenever possible, we meet for races, training sessions, or to organize trips. Last year, he focused more on the Italian territory, which led him to participate in the world championships in France and subsequently in the European Championships in Portugal; this year, the goal is to compete with the strongest international riders, thus gaining more experience and confidence. Denmark and America are getting closer and closer, both competitions will predominantly have flat conditions, and that’s where we know he can perform his best.

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Collaborating with the ICF seems to be a game-changer. How does this partnership elevate your events and the sport of SUP in Italy?

For me, the ICF represented a leap in quality in SUP, not because it changed anything in the way SUP is done, but mainly because it understood the potential of SUP and directed it within a context of certain and serious rules, effectively creating real competitions. It didn’t take away the enthusiasm or euphoria but added the ability to create events that work in any context. My first contact was the ICF World Championship in China, which I watched on streaming. It was hard to understand the mood of the people, but from the outside, I saw a perfectly organized event. Then I understood, participating in the ICF World Championship in Hungary, that the organized context of the ICF didn’t alter the relaxed and friendly mood of the SUP races in any way. So, I immediately got to work to apply that concept also in Italy, and together with many other clubs, we gradually made our way into the Italian federation, leveraging the motivation of the ICF.

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However, in Italy, it’s not easy; there are more federations, more divisions, more problems, and above all, little interest and support from sports policies for a non-Olympic sport. When I started competing, I almost felt guilty for not practicing an Olympic sport, and many try to instill in you the idea that if it’s not Olympic, it’s not important, and they look for any pretext to get closer to the dream. Then I realized that my dream, and the dream I try to transmit to my kids, is not the Olympics, where, at best, 4 Italians will go, but a 360-degree sport where you can truly compete, but also play, and where you train while having fun to improve yourself and feel good; you are friends with your opponent, not sworn enemies because at the qualifying race they might steal your place. And ultimately, I believe that the open formula with the national team races of the ICF is the best to further grow this sport.

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Comacchio is your SUP haven. Can you paint a picture of this unique paddling environment and its appeal?

Comacchio is a very beautiful city, and the marine and lagoon environment is unique and worth visiting as a tourist. However, living there can be quite difficult; people are sincere and friendly if you manage to earn their sympathy, but very closed and possessive if they think you’re stealing their opportunities or taking advantage of their territory… So, I often say that the limit of Delta SUP is precisely the Delta and the city of Comacchio. I have a love-hate relationship with Comacchio; I love the territory and the people, a little less the local politics. Anyway, coming to our race, you’ll have the opportunity to visit many natural wonders like the Po Delta Park, the Mesola Forest, the Nations Lake, and the Comacchio Valleys, as well as many historical centers and architectures from the Pomposa Abbey to the historical center of Comacchio and the nearby Ferrara. The conditions in April are generally very good, with mild weather, and we always hope for sunshine. The sea, however, is often full of currents and has small lateral waves, especially if the wind blows from the south.

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Why should athletes from other countries join your race? Besides the opportunity to enjoy Italian food, of course…

When I organize a race, I always think like an athlete: what would I like to find? How would I like the participation to be facilitated? Hence, our entire team commits to providing the best possible conditions for the athletes. Some perks include lodging just steps away from the race site at affordable prices, and of course, delicious food. But we don’t stop there; we offer secure equipment storage, camping and hotel accommodations nearby, and a landscape that’s as natural as it is comfortable. Additionally, we provide airport transfer services upon request, and thanks to partnerships with Sport Camps and Union Paddle, the option to find a ready-to-use paddleboard for rent is also available. It’s not just about the race; it’s about experiencing the best of what our location and our team have to offer.

SUPRace Italy ICF spring race delta sup

For more information:
Spring SUP Race 2024 on TotalSUP

About the Author

Dóra Hegedűs

Dora is a female grandmaster SUP racer who joined the world of paddling in 2019 and quickly developed an irrepressible passion for the sport. Originally from Hungary, Dora now resides in Aarhus, Denmark, and despite her affinity for flat waters, she loves to participate in international races and is dedicated to making SUP racing an inclusive sport for women over 50 - a vibrant age where, as Dora believes, life truly begins to sparkle with fun and excitement. Fluent in Hungarian, English, Italian, French, and (soon) Danish, she is a polyglot. In her professional life, Dora is a business coach and therapist.