With two great days of racing behind us it was time for the sprints. Spectators love short and fast races. The race course was set at low tide with a good portion of beach running. Then the racers had to choose between two buoys to turn, paddle back to the beach and run back up to the finish line.
Was Shrimpy going to get a third gold medal to finish up a perfect 2023 ISA SUP World Championships? Esperanza was out of the picture for that one, so who could be a favorite? Italys power house Cecilia Pampinella, was she ready to sprint to gold? How about Caroline Küntzel? She had a great year in 2022 and was very motivated for a place on the podium.
The women podium was very hard to call, as there are quite a few athletes that we do not see racing that much all year. How about Mariecarmen Rivera from Puerto Rico, she had a very strong Tech. and Longdistance Race. Could she grab gold? With the lack of sprint races throughout the season it was really hard to make a perdiction. Same on the men side. If Connor Baxter would have been present, all the bets would have been on him but… he was not. Who is the next pick? Itzel Delgado? We did not see him racing that much but he is strong. After the last 2 days Shrimpy would be the favorite for sure. We also have Claudio Nika in the mix and Polarbear Christian Andersen can’t be forgotten either. Again it was very hard to make a pick.
After the semi final we knew more: Christian Andersen was the faster paddler but the slower runner on the beach and that cost him a spot in the final as Aaron Sanchez ran past him. What a disappointment to give it away on the last few yards on the beach. The Polarbear was visibly unhappy as reality sunk in as it was only 0.11 second that cost him the final.
The ladies final held some of the favorite names as well as Tarryn King a bit of a dark horse. Melanie Lafenetre showed a solid performance in all the heats and was a favorite, but could Cecilia Pampinella upset the field with her powerful paddling? Mariecarmen Rivera, came into this event as bit of a dark horse but after her great performance in the days before it really was anybodies race to win.
In the final Mariecarmen got the best start leading the way to the buoy. Once reached the buoy, MC turned on the right and Melanie on the left they and now were almost even. Now it was a neck on neck race between the two back to the beach. Both reached the shallow water the same time but MC made the mistake to jump off too soon and landed in the deeper water and fell. That was the decision right there and Melanie won the gold with 0.46 seconds ahead. That was an exciting final. Tarryn King was 3rd with a 5.34 second gap and Cecillia Pampinella had a 6.01 second lag behind the winner.
After Christian Andersen’s disappointing semi final we now had Aaron Sanchez, Noic Garioud a favorite for a medal, Ollie Houghton who was a bit of a dark horse but not completely unknown as well as Claudio Nika in a final to look forward to. Even Casper Steinfath felt that the final was too close to call. Our money how ever would have been on Noic for sure, followed by Claudio. Things did not quite turn out how we anticipated it.
After the start it became pretty clear pretty fast that this should be come a three man race as Aaaron Sanchez fell behind rather quick. After the buoy turn it was all Noic hammering away towards the beach as Claudio and Ollie battled for silver. But then right at the dismount area in the shallow water Aaron came super fast from behind catching up with Ollie and Claudio jeopardizing their medal hopes just to fall in the shallow water. Now it was a running race between the Kiwi and the Italian. Ollie Houghton was just a faster grabbing a silver medal for team New Zealand. Wow… what a final that was. Aaron almost upsetting the the finish but then getting super unlucky with an unfortunate dismount. The win went well deserved to Noic Garioud with a text book race from start to finish.
Over all it was a great day of sprint races with no shortage of great moments, upsets and surprises.
- Melanie Lafenetre – 1:25.21
- Maricarmen Rivera – 1:25.67
- Tarryn King – 1:30.55
- Cecilia Pampinella – 1:31.22
- Noic Garioud – 1:15.36
- Ollie Houghton – 1:17.06
- Claudio Nika – 1:18.73
- Aaron Sanchez – 1:55.45