European Championships 2014

European Master’s Champion 2014            &         Bronze in the Open Category at the championships 
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Over the weekend of the 15-17th of August was the inaugural European Surfski Championships and it was held in Vila Do Conde, Portugal. We stayed in a quaint B&B in the town along the river, awesome views. I  have been looking forward to this race all season – Andre, Marisa and the team at Nelo really know how to put on a great event.
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We arrived on Thursday and a representative from Nelo was waiting at the airport to transfer us to our accommodation. We settled in and headed straight to the beach and race venue. The wind was blowing, always a good welcome to race! So I set my boat up and went out for a paddle to get a feel for the conditions, the swell was a fair size and the wind was making the larger swells fun to catch. Andre always wants to run this event with the best conditions possible, he is always dreaming of racing in the perfect downwind conditions. The wind was forecast the best for Friday and Saturday, but Saturday was not as good, not easy to call. Andre made the call to bring the race forward by one day to race on Friday. The course was an 18km downwind (A-B) race from a beach near the town of Apulia and finishing on the beach at Vila Do Conde.
The schedule for race day was to meet at the race venue at 11am for the Opening Ceremony and briefing, followed by a massive spread for lunch and then the buses would arrive to take us to the start. Start time of the race would be 14:30.
So after a bit of lunch we all headed to the buses…..a short journey up the coast to Apulia, then to find our boats and get down to the start line. What a great call from Andre……standing on the beach about to go for a warm up, the wind was picking up and it was now looking like we were going to have an awesome downwind:)
The course would take us about 2.5km to our first turn buoy and then it would be downwind all the way to the finish. Our paddles are locked in gates, this makes it a fairer start, the gates open and we run down to our boats. It must be so great for the spectators to see near on 200 people running to water line and dashing out to sea.
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So the start order……paddles locked in the gates with about 10min to go before the start,…..then “ONE MINUTE TO START”….then “READY GO!!!!” the gates slam open and we are off. I was off to good clean start, with Angie Mouden leading the way then Sara Rafael and then myself. It felt like a long way to the turn buoy but once we turned to go downwind it was great. The downwind section was quite technical so concentration was important. The wind picked up as the race went on so the runs just got better, from what I can gather the shallow line didn’t pay off unless you really know the area. So not too deep and not too shallow was about the best line to take, it was the conservative line but I think it paid off. I was on the same line as Angie and she was having an awesome race, I was just trying to close the gap on Sara Rafeal, who was in second, but in the end I just could not catch her. Still very happy to finish with a Bronze Medal at European Champs.  Well done girls it was a great race between us.
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Well done to everyone who finished as it was tough out there, especially the last few hundred meters to the finish with a strong side wind.
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Results of the first European Championships :
  1. Angie Mouden (FRA)
  2. Sara Rafeal (POR)
  3. Chloe Bunnett (GB)
  4. Sofia Coelho (POR)
  5. Emma Levemyr (SWE)
  6. Sara Trujillo (ESP)
  7. Amaia Olaberri (ESP)
  8. Aurora Palomeras (ESP)
  9. Joana Moura (POR)
  10. Lucia Ortuna (ESP)
Overall Men’s Results
  1. Yannick Laousse (FRA)
  2. Benoit Le Roux (FRA)
  3. Daniel Viloria (ESP)
  4. Esteban Ojeda (ESP)
  5. Joep Van Bakel (NED)
  6. Walter Sanchez (ESP)
  7. Neo Pelliza (FRA)
  8. Florent Nowakowski (FRA)
  9. David Fernandes (POR)
  10. Valentin Henot (FRA)
A big thanks to Andre, Marisa, all the volunteers and the team at Nelo for a fantastic event, see you next year for sure:)
Below are couple of pictures from our day out on Sunday when ventured on the metro to Porto and had an awesome day in the city, such a beautiful place.
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