He’s one half of the notorious SUPBROz duo you’ve been hearing so much about and he recently took the men’s title at the SUP 11 City Tour in The Netherlands. But when you and your own sibling are an almost inseparable pair in a competitive sport like stand up paddle, can rivalry ever seep in and cause a minor rift? No chance! Daniel Hasulyo describes himself as the “proudest brother in the universe” and he is always the first to back his brother Bruno in all his SUP endeavours, and vice versa. For TotalSUP, Daniel tells us a little bit about their story, their methods to stay in shape and their goal-oriented vision for the future.
Daniel Hasulyo, you’re a recent winner of the SUP 11 City Tour in The Netherlands. What was it like to emerge victorious from this challenge?
Winning the 9th edition of the SUP 11 City Tour is amazing! I think it will remain a really special memory of mine going forward and a real source of energy and inspiration for the future. It’s one of my proudest achievements to date, I’d say. I feel like it’s one of those wins that marks the end of a long journey. In my case, a journey that started three years ago, and which has resulted in this accomplishment.
The race itself was quite brutal in parts. It’s no secret, but this year’s conditions were extremely challenging over a gruelling 220km. On this occasion, I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend, Sai, by my side, as she came to join me on the trip. And of course, my brother Bruno – freshly crowned world champion – was there also, as well as our friends from SUP Station Thailand.
Our sponsors were really great. They ensured our preparations went really well before the challenge itself, and our trainers were crucial in making sure that our performance piqued at just the right moments.
There was such a buzz and an energy in the air throughout the course of the whole thing. We really took advantage of this as we powered through the seemingly infinite canals of Friesland over the course of the five days.
For me, it really came at the right time, as it was also my birthday. I couldn’t ask for a better present! All my thanks to the crew of the Tour for organising such and impressive event once again!
You’re a member of the dynamic duo, the SUPBroz, and your brother Bruno recently became world champion at the ISA World SUP Championship in Denmark. What is the secret to your success?
There are a number of factors I think. Happy thoughts and positive energy. Sleeping well. Good nutrition. And of course, well-structured training. We are very passionate and dedicated, and we like to use this energy to have amazing experiences and a lot of fun!
Obviously, I’d like to congratulate my brother Bruno once again for his long-distance win in Denmark. I really am so proud of him! Everything came together and he never cracked under the pressure. What a champ! Being a professional athlete goes far beyond our image and our performance on race days.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, and I think an athlete is, in a way, very much the manifestation or the expression of those propping him/her up, believing in him/her and supporting him/her along the way. Success is a combination of so many factors coming together.
Both the ISA World Championship and the SUP 11 City Tour were among our target races for the year. With our trainers, we decided it was best to prepare ourselves as much as possible for the 220km ultra long-distance challenge that we’d be up against in The Netherlands, as we knew this would be vital for securing a good result at the ISA World Championship too. It really paid off for both of us.
We trained at the Strength and Endurance Performance Academy in Bali, as well as the finest and best equipped surf and watersports centre on the island, the Ripcurl School of Surf.
We spent many an hour there doing some pretty heavy training. Bali is a very unique place. There is a lot of organic farming there, which is something we relied on for good nutrition in the two months leading up to these events.
Pod Chocolate, the number 1 leader in organic chocolate production, is also based out there, and with them we developed a special natural/organic energy snack based on 80% dark chocolate. Just one of the things that kept us going.
Before the races began, we also began a new partnership with Compressport, and this brought a whole new lineup of compression race gear into our existing equipment. It made a big difference while paddling. It’s undeniable.
We were also using the best flatwater boards we’d ever used. The 12’6 and 14” Starboard Sprints were really agile in all conditions, but the new 21’5 really pushed us that one step further during the SUP 11 City Tour!
A final non-negligible factor that really helped us was the awareness of the need to maintain mental and emotional stability. I think that preparing with your brother, who is also your best friend, and then seeing the smiles on your loved ones’ faces as you approach the finish line makes it that much easier!
You’re really beginning to make a name for yourselves, both individually, and as a family. Can you tell us about your SUP journey so far? When did you first get interested in SUP?
My parents are both very passionate and active sports enthusiasts. As a result, we started windsurfing at a very early age. By the age of 14-15, we were already competing in the PWA and travelling the world every summer, chasing the greatest winds and the best spots to go sailing.
It was around 2007, when we were in Mauritius, that we saw some guys paddling out on the break on a not-so-windy day. We dreamt of how cool it would be to paddle down the 3 longest rivers in Europe, but at the time Bruno was still too young for such an adventure, so we had to wait a couple of years.
We took some time to experience life a bit, and then, it was about 3 years ago, when we moved to New Zealand, that we began our path to professional stand up paddling. Our good friend and mentor, Jeremy Stephenson, guided us along the way. He taught us all he knew about the ocean in a bid to prepare us to become world-class paddlers.
We have a vision and we believe that through hard work you can achieve your dreams. Since then, we have been paddling thousands of kilometres, we’ve gone around the globe a couple of times, have had some amazing stories, seen so many happy faces and met many different people from different cultures and backgrounds. So many people brought together by the water.
Our ultimate goal is to feel connected and almost at one with the water. To share our experiences with everyone we meet along the way. I believe that through our commitment and our passion for SUP, we draw so much energy. This sport gives us the possibility to go on so many amazing adventures and brush shoulders with a whole community. Overall, we aim to inspire people!
Tell us about some of your finest achievements in your SUP career so far. What titles have you won and what are you most proud of?
Looking at things on the whole so far, I think one of my proudest SUP results has to be our 38-day 2000km Danube Paddle in 2011. At the time, we set a world record, which was amazing. We paddled from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, across 10 countries.
The win at the New Zealand National Championship in 2015 was also pretty cool. And there were a few outstanding international podium positions over the past few years, including the Japan Cup and Sainte-Maxime. Not to mention some big top ten finishes at the World Series events in 2016. That was kind of our inaugural year of pro-racing, so it was a big deal for us.
And of course, another proud achievement was sharing the podium with my brother at this year’s ISA World Championship in Denmark by placing fourth, and winning the SUP 11 City Tour this year. It’s been a great year!
It certainly has been a great year for you! Now that the SUP 11-City Tour is over, what is your main objective going forward?
I’m still a little numb from the 11 City Tour, but I think that as of next week we’ll be good to go again. I am for sure participating in the upcoming Pacific Paddle Games, that goes without saying.
In addition, I want to take part in the Japan Cup in Chigasaki, as well as some smaller races in South East Asia. And I’m still thinking about the Paris Crossing at the end of the year.
One of your main sponsors is Starboard. Do you take part in a lot of activities with them beyond racing?
Starboard is a super innovative brand, always lightyears ahead of the industry in my own view. It’s this crazy machine that, for me, is really moving the sport forward and giving great direction to the SUP community out there.
It the past years, Svein Rasmussen, Chief Innovator at Starboard, along with his friends, the “Tiki Family” and the entire team in Thailand, have been working hard to create a greener SUP industry.
This is done in a number of ways, notably by running eco-projects, studying new materials and production technologies, planting mangroves, supporting clean-ups and helping to raise awareness around these activities.
Bruno and I are proud ambassadors of Sustainable Surf and we believe that with our sportsmanship, our good behaviour and through respecting nature, we can be exemplary for the next generations, who will hopefully follow suit and do the same.
From a work standpoint, Bruno is based in Bali, I myself live in Thailand and we are both closely involved with the race board development and testing at Starboard. We also contribute to the market development in the South East Asian region.
I’m former Project Manager at the company and very happy to discuss and study any new possible ways to work through paddling and water to create a sustainable future and a better planet for us and for future generations.
You are from Hungary, but you move between Thailand and Bali. How connected do you feel to your homeland? Do you identify primarily as Hungarian or are you a citizen of the world?
Ah, “citizen of the world”, I like that! I would define myself as both Hungarian and a citizen of the world I think!
It is important to never forget your origins, your path, your story, your roots. In many ways, they define you, who you are and what you do.
I am very proud to say I am Hungarian. We are a cool nation! Strong paddlers, curious travelling types and “conquerors”, in a sense. Bruno and I communicate with each other through Hungarian, my parents are Hungarian and I dream in the Hungarian language… along with 5 others! But that’s because I had the chance to travel the world and see so many of its wonders! We are truly lucky!
But our small yet strong nation gives us special roots, and I firmly believe that being Hungarian has made me who I am today. At the same time, it has helped me realise that, whether we’re aware of it or not, we are all one, in a sense. We are all citizens of the same world!
No matter where we come from, we have to act together on behalf of this world we inhabit. If even in a small way, I’d like to think we can express this will and desire through SUP. To embrace the energy of all the world’s diversity while doing what we love. What a great thing!
Well, what an insightful interview! Any final words to add?
Just a shout out to the TotalSUP community, to all the water lovers out there and to all of our friends around the world! A big thank you to everyone for all your support and good vibes, which has helped us get where we are today.