Stand Up Paddle surfing, more commonly known by it’s acronym; SUP, has hit European Surfing culture like the proverbial freight train. It has now become a staple part of any beach scene across the continent, and love it or hate it....its going nowhere.
2016 was a watershed year for the sport here in Europe with the inaugural EuroSUP games being held in Lacanau, France back in June. The event was a huge success and garnered a huge amount of attention for the fledgling sport. France dominated the event on home soil; taking wins in all disciplines, the race divisions dominated by Tito Puyo, Arthur Aratkin and Olivia Piana and Antoine Delpero taking the win in the surf. But can they repeat their dominance of 2016 in 2017?
The European surfing calendar will once again feature the EuroSUP games in 2017, this time held in Portugal over June 6th-11th in the famous surfing town of Peniche. Entry will surely grow since the success of Lacanau and competition will be at an all time high; the main titles will not be easy to come by.
Other challengers to the French titles will no doubt emerge, one such candidate is the Channel Islands’ Aaron Rowe. The Channel Islands were not present at Lacanau so therefore Rowe wasn’t there to showcase his outrageous talent with a paddle. But if the Channel Islands do enter a team in 2017 then he will surely be the biggest threat to Delpero repeating his success this year. Especially with Delpero splitting his time between competing on the WSL longboard tour.
The race divisions feature one of the world’s greatest paddlers in Denmark’s Casper Steinfath. Steinfath was 3rd in 2016 and will undoubtedly be seeking revenge in 2017. He was clearly disappointed with his showing in Lacanau and has all the credentials to take the crown in Peniche, but of course the French are a well oiled machine and will not let their medals slip out of grasp without a fight. However the success of Steinfath highlights the fact that SUP is bringing success in the European surfing community to countries which, historically, haven’t been successful in competing against the traditional powerhouses. There has never been so much of an equal spread of surfing talent across Europe as there is currently.
Of course Spain and Portugal will be looking to leap frog their old rival too. Spain finished 2nd in 2016 with Portugal 3rd. Portugal as a surfing nation will be on a high after their dominance of the Eurosurf Junior Games in Morocco in December, and the qualification of homegrown talent Frederico Morais to the WCT. But we will see.....competition will be fierce.
EuroSUP will be held in Peniche, Portugal from the 6th-11th June, 2017. The event will be covered online and via the Eurosurf Facebook page.