Who Will Be Crowned Portugal’s Long Distance Champion?

With only two events to wrap up the Portuguese Long Distance SUP Race Championship (Tejo Crossing in Lisbon/Alcochete, and Douro Race in Oporto/Gaia), veteran racer Rui Meira (RRD) is currently leading the ratings with 4040 points, in front of José Cirilo (SIC Maui) and Ricardo Rodrigues (Naish), both tied in 2nd place with 3860 points. However, they both have one less race than Rui Meira.

With the Long Distance Race Tour being composed of nine events, only the best five results count for the final rankings, and that’s why Rui Meira is leading the ratings with three 2nd places finishes and two 3rd places. But with José Cirilo and Ricardo Rodrigues looking strong, both with three wins, one 2nd place and dominating the last events, it’s highly likely that the race for the national title will be a two men show.

José Cirilo has already been crowned Portuguese Sup Sprint champion, dominating the whole tour without any strong opponent. During the Long Distance races in flat-water conditions, the Alhandra athlete also imposed his game winning the three events held in those conditions (Peniche, Moledo and Óbidos). With the last two events on the tour to be held in similar conditions, Cirilo has a slight advantage upon his rivals. In the races held in ocean conditions, Cirilo didn’t compete in one (Berlenga Crossing, in Penice). He was forced to withdraw during the Vila do Conde downwind event due to kidney problems and finished at the 2nd place in the Nazaré race, won by Ricardo Rodrigues.

Ricardo Rodrigues, the athlete from Madeira Island, was relatively unknown on the Portuguese mainland race scene before his first event. However in Madeira his skills were well-known. Training hard in ocean conditions, Ricardo won the Berlenga Crossing (due to the south wind, the event was held from Supertubos beach to Baleal). In his first clash with Cirilo, the Alhandra athlete won, but in Vila do Conde race, held on downwind conditions, Ricardo won easily, also benefiting from Cirilo misfortune. During the Nazaré race, the village that became worldly famous due to Garrett McNamara amazing feats, both riders faced each other again, but it has ended with Ricardo winning.

Now, it all depends on the final two stages and there is a chance that the two paddlers might finish the tour with very tied score for the first place, if each of them wins a race. Although, the Tejo Crossing, scheduled for next Sunday, 21st September, is a flat-water event, anything might happen, since it’s a 14 km race, with treacherous currents and a long course. Initial forecast indicated strong winds (and a hard upwind battle), but now, despite the storm that is hitting Portugal hard, organizers are expecting a beautiful day with peaceful winds. 

As for the Douro River event (6th October in Oporto/Gaia), everything will be decided then. Actually, the Douro River also has its fair share of currents and it’s also exposed to wind, so José Cirilo and Ricardo Rodrigues will also have to deal with these factors. Anyway, the show is guaranteed until the final stage and the pressure is mounting up on both contenders.

What are your bets for the final stages of the Long Distance Portuguese tour?

Video of the Óbidos race:


 

Video of the Nazaré race:
 

Foto 1 – Rui Meira in Nazaré. Credit: Hélio António/CDAN
Foto 2 – José Cirilo in Óbidos. Credit: Nuno André Ramos (www.flickr.com/nampramos)
Foto 3 – Ricardo Rodrigues in Nazaré. Credit: Hélio António/CDAN

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