ISA SUP World Championships Tech Race Recap Analysis

SUP fans and media have been anticipating the show down in the ISA SUP World Championships in France. After a few days of, sadly rather boring, SUP Surfing, the world was looking forward to the Tech Races in France. As always here at the Stand Up Magazin I like to take a deeper look on what the ISA has presented us with and put things into a bigger context.

The semi finals

From my perspective here there were two things I was surprised with: Course length and heat size. The SUP World is now mainly used to shorter Tech. Races. Setting up a race course that takes the ladies 45 – 50 minutes to complete is just too long. In fact it got flat out boring to watch after a while. Same with men, even they took 15 minutes less than most women, 4.5km for Tech. Race is just very long and even Casper Steinfath validated that briefly in his commentary.

One would argue to have 22 athletes compete on a shorter course would be to tight for lead changes and make things over all to cramped. Another reason I was surprise we did not see 4 quarter finals with each 10 guys from where 5 would move on and then sift things down to a ten men final. The advantage here is you get more race action and things are being kept short, suspenseful and tight.

We did run a poll on the Stand Up Magazin Instagram page and the response was pretty clear.

The response was pretty clear as many people agreed with my opinion. We had many voters from the athlete community even some of them that were actually in France at the time.

We had two public disagreements from Michael Booth and Donato Freens. Both of them seemed happy with the long tech course, all though Boothy kind of walked back his initial statement after the race course was altered for finals day.

The final

The ISA seemed to have listened or something propmpted them to change the race course for finals day. The athletes no longer had to carry their boards around a chicane on the beach. Instead there was now Battle of the Paddle style “Hammer Buoy”. The race now was much more suspenseful and shorter. Esperanzas finishing time in her semi final was 46 minutes and now it was 31 minutes. On the men side the change seemed minimal as Shrimpis’ time only came down by 6 minutes. Regardless, the finals on Friday reminded me very much of the heritage of our sport: The Battle of the Paddle. Casper Steinfath remarked on this as well and one thing is definitely clear, a race course like this makes for great content, sudden lead changes and over all a very exciting race.

We did discuss the dilemma between surf races and flat water races in the wake of the ISA Puerto Rico SUP World Championships and if you are interested you can click on the thumbnail to take part in the discussion and while you are there please subscribe to the Youtube Channel.

What was going on with the false start in the mens’ final was hard to tell but evidently everybody was confused. The confusion got even bigger when about 2 minutes later a boat crossed in front of the racers signaling that the race has been aborted and restarted. Unfortunately I don’t know what was going on but I sure have never seen a false start being called that late.

Commentary and production

The production was as always pretty much flaw less. The viewer got a great overview of the action with different camera angles. It was easy to spot the athletes and lead changes were close to follow. Thanks to the youtube broadcast it was always possible to rewind. Particularly to try to figure out what happened at the start of the mens’ final. (Take note ICF)

It was on one hand unfortunate that Matieu from total SUP was not in the booth or in front of the camera, as he is the one that knows all the athletes the best by far. However, there is something to be said about the commentary for Dreu Murin. His commentary of the mens final made it very exciting, in fact it was that good that even my wife, who was only paying half way attention in the back ground, made a comment on it. It would have been great to see him and Matieu together in the booth.

We know from the past, that the ISA has people who know how to commentate, but often lack the knowledge of athletes. This seemed not to have been the case this year. With Casper Steinfath, we also had for the first time a former athlete and world champion on the booth. Casper is a well spoken man and did put things into perspective for the viewers.

As far as the Tech Race portion of the ISA SUP World Championships goes there is really nothing much to complain. It just would be nice if at some point we would all agree on how a Tech. Race has to look like.