Race Ready: Tommaso Pampinella on Gearing Up for the 2024 ECA SUP Championships

This June, the first ever European SUP Championships under the flag of ECA will be held in Szeged, in the south of Hungary. The organiser, the Hungarian Canoe Federation invites SUP enthusiasts from all over Europe and provide the opportunity for anybody to compete against the bests of the continent between June 12-16. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a rising star, you can enter any of the four types of races. Among the competitors is the distinguished Tommaso Pampinella, a seasoned paddleboarder known for his strategic prowess and competitive spirit – meet him and discover his professional approach to preparation and competition Don’t miss your chance to be part of this exciting event—register now and join this unique race in Szeged!

Tommaso, could you tell us about your first time trying stand-up paddleboarding?

My first time stand-up paddling was in 2014 in Palma de Mallorca. I always used to surf since I was a child and that day the waves in Can Pastilla were full of paddlers, surfing with their SUP boards. It was a very strange situation for me because I had never seen so many paddlers on the lineup. Since surfing conditions were not ideal, I decided to try out the waves by renting a SUP surfboard. It was my first time, and I didn’t know anything about this sport, so it was almost impossible to stand up and paddle. Then I realized that this sport is not as easy as it seems and that I could learn a lot! After 30 minutes of trying to find the right balance, I decided to return to the shore and take my surfboard. When I came back to Italy, I decided to buy my first SUP gear and learn how to stand-up paddle on my own.

What sparked your transition into becoming an international SUP athlete?

Since I started paddling, my main goal was to travel around the world and race against the best paddlers, so a few months after my first ever race in Italy, I decided to participate in my first international race, the GlaGla Race. I continued racing internationally and learned a lot. That’s why, after one year and having achieved good national and international results, JP-Australia, the brand that first believed in me and sponsored me with the national team since 2016, decided to include me in the International team in 2019.

Which medals in SUP are you most proud of, and why?

I can tell you that medals are not my main goals, but I focus more on the adventure and preparing for each race in the best way possible. I won lots of good medals and I am proud of them, but I don’t paddle every day for winning one. For sure, the medal won at the Molokai 2 Oahu is one of the most important for me because I trained for that race for three years, and it was my dream since I started paddling. Then I won the bronze medal at the European Championship in Denmark 2022 with Team Italy, I reached 2nd place at the Paris Crossing in 2019, and lots of other good results. But there are races where I didn’t win any medals but that I am prouder of than others where I did. I race for that. I race to enjoy each paddle stroke in the most beautiful places in the world and feel free. Then if I win a medal, I will appreciate it!

Since joining the 404 and Hippostick SUP race team in January 2024, how has being part of this team influenced your approach to professional racing and your performance in international competitions?

I am glad to be part of this team and am grateful for what they are doing for me. Now I am sure to race with very competitive equipment and only have to focus on my training and preparation for the races.

As you prepare for the ECA European SUP Championships 2024, could you share some unique aspects of your training regimen that give you an edge in competitions?

I am my own coach, I have a degree in sports science, and this is my main job, so it is very nice to study and try new training sessions on myself. I have lots to learn from each race and each season. This year I changed some things in my preparation that make me feel better, but let’s see if it works in the races! My main goals have always been sprint races and ocean races, so I focused more on explosive strength and resistance because I think those are the keys to reaching the top in sprint races.

How do you select your equipment for races like the ECA European SUP Championships? What specific features do you look for in your SUP board and paddle to suit the expected conditions at the venue?

For the ECA European Championships, I will definitely use the 404 Jump 14×22 race board because it is the fastest board for me in flat water sprint races and the Hippostick Orca 92 paddle for reaching top acceleration. The Jump is a very versatile board that provides excellent acceleration and maintains glide very well. One of the most important features of this board is its stability, which is very important for this kind of race. The Orca paddle is the best paddle I’ve ever tried for sprints, so I am sure it is going to be the best choice. I just have to focus on my training!

Mental resilience is crucial in competitive sports. Could you discuss how you prepare mentally for a major race, including any rituals or routines that help you stay focused and prepared?

Yes, the mental aspect is one of the most important things in sports, especially where the performance of the athlete is very short and just a small mistake can make you lose a race. What I do during my daily routine is study every aspect of the race, from the warm-up to positioning on the lineup, and try to imagine myself there. This helps you to be prepared when you are at the competition. I don’t have any rituals, but I try to stay as focused as possible on my performance, trying to give my all on each stroke.

What is your goal for the ECA European Championships?

My goal is always the same: enjoy the paddle, give 100% of myself, and beat my own best. It will be a very competitive race, and the level of the athletes is very high, and I will always focus on my best performance.

Looking ahead to this year, what achievements would you be proud to reflect on under the Christmas tree in December?

For sure, the ICF Worlds in Sarasota will be the most important event of the year, so it will be good to have a positive memory of that race. But I don’t know; I take what life can give me, so I will be happy to have good memories from each race and adventure on the water, good or bad as they are.


Board rental

Travel light and have your high-performance gear ready at your events!  Union Paddlers have got you covered! EVERY ICF event, 1 year rental option and more! Click here to book your gear.


For more information:

ECA European SUP Championships 2024 on TotalSUP

Event website

Facebook event


Photos by the courtesy of: Hungarian Canoe Federation and Tommaso Pampinella

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.