Anna Tschirky is the most successful Swiss paddler and has also made a name for herself internationally in recent years. The multiple Swiss champion is regularly among the top ten at the big international races, came third at the Paris Nautic Crossing and fourth in the Technical Race at the European Championships in Denmark 2022. This year she could already celebrate her first big international victory at the GlaGla Race in January.
When we saw Anna at races she was mainly racing with Fanatic Raceboards and was also sponsored by the brand. Now that Fanatic has pulled out of SUP racing, Anna was left without a sponsor like some others. The racing season is upon us and Anna has just announced that she will be racing without a partnership with a brand this year.
We wanted to know from the promising athlete how she assesses the SUP year 2023 and her situation.
Thank you for taking the time for Stand Up Magazine. First of all, we are interested in how you reacted to the news from Fanatic and whether you saw it coming or not?
Hi Mike. Thanks for your quick response to my post regarding my announcement of being without a board sponsor this year and the request for the interview.
At the beginning I would like to clarify that I was not sponsored by Fanatic International. My sponsorship was directly through Fanatic Switzerland and I was in contact with the local representative. Many people are not aware of this.
Regarding your question, I have noticed in recent years how the development of board shapes in general, e.g. hollow construction, is progressing. However, nothing has changed much with the Fanatic Flatwater Raceboards, which is probably also due to the fact that they only make up a small area of sales. The Inflatable range, on the other hand, has always been very popular. So, in a way, I saw it coming, but was surprised to be informed by chance this winter by a fellow paddler about the dissolution of the international team.
Now that that’s behind us and we’re looking ahead to the 2023 season, let’s talk briefly about your statement. You say it’s impossible to find a board for your stature, or at least a board that fits you well. In other words, on flatwater you need a different board than on the ocean and there is no brand that covers your needs in both waters.
That it is impossible, I have not explicitly said so, but it is correct that it is currently difficult for me as a small and light athlete to find suitable boards of a brand that covers both areas (flat water & ocean).
As an athlete, you invest so much time and energy in training, preparation and everything else. Of course, the right equipment also plays an important role and at some point I began to ask myself whether my boards really fit my stature.
In other sports, everything is tailored to the athlete. For example, no one would train for a marathon for half a year and complete the whole thing in a number 43 instead of a suitable shoe size 39.
After a long time of thinking about it and because of a few other factors that I will not go into here, I have decided this year to be on the road without a board sponsor. I will ride the boards that suits me best or simply what is available locally, if the transport to a race is too expensive.
If I remember correctly, we already saw you at the ESF in Denmark on a SIC in the sea. Everyone thought you had changed teams. Tell us something about how you find the right gear when you are 155cm tall and weigh 50kg.
Exactly, I remember that well. There was a lot of confusion in the livestream. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to organize a suitable board for the socean from Fanatic, which does not have too much volume and is too wide. That’s why I was already looking for an alternative for these races at the beginning of last season. The SIC RS LV (low volume) has excited me from the beginning and by chance I found a good second-hand offer, which made the matter quickly clear.
As a small and light athlete, I simply have different needs and requirements than a 1.80m tall man who weighs 75kg, and yet we often paddle on the same board. I think that not necessarily only the width, but also the volume and its distribution for smaller people plays a big role.
You will continue to race flatwater with your old Fanatic board but you are looking for an alternative. What would be a perfect board for you?
For flatwater I am looking for a board, which is of course as fast as possible, but also maneuvers well maneuverable in a little chop, because even a flatwater race is never 100% flat. In addition, fast turns should be possible and as mentioned earlier, the volume clearly reduced. I think for me a board under 240l would fit without problems.
Not to mention, of course, the weight. Many boards are relatively heavy and “massive”. Unfortunately, however, this can only be adjusted to a certain extent, because in the end at the ICF World Cup a minimum weight is imposed and you want to ride on your usual board. But I definitely prefer boards under 11.5kg. Dug out I am used to, but extreme bathtub boards I like rather less…
What are your plans for 2023? Which races will we see Anna at?
After successfully passing my matura exam last summer, I will focus on the sport and this year I will mainly do SUP races. My current race preparation consists among other things with a 2-month stay in Fuerteventura to gain even more experience on the ocean and improve my skills there.
I will officially open the season in Costa Blanca and will certainly be present at various other EuroTour races, I plan to compete in a few ICF World Cup competitions and possibly some stops of the APP. A highlight will certainly be the World Cup in Thailand at the end of the year!
What also makes us curious is: How will you finance the 2023 season? Are there any board independent sponsors that are potential candidates for you?
For a long time now, I have planned to focus on sports after graduating from school and have accordingly been saving for it for several years. This clearly takes a bit of pressure off me to find sponsors, but I also realize that this can’t continue in the future. That’s why I’ve been looking for sponsors for a long time, unfortunately still somewhat unsuccessfully.
SUP as an individual and fringe sport is unfortunately (at least in Switzerland) simply not very attractive and many companies prefer to support team sports. Also locally it has proven difficult to find financial support. However, with the unpacked store “OHNI Thun” I was able to find a partner who supports me and my activities. I am very proud of this collaboration, as I find their concept and commitment ingenious.
Searching for sponsors takes time and energy, which I now prefer to rather invest in my training shortly before the start of the season. I hope that I can still convince one or the other sponsor and am always open to new partnerships with brands and companies whose values I also represent.
Also, like last year, I will again be traveling with the family car and touring Europe to keep accommodation and transportation costs as low as possible.
Thank you so much and good luck this year.