Day 1 of the 11 Cities SUP event, was met with 110 competitors and strong equinox winds common to September in Europe. Consequently, the course met with some changes in order to safeguard the paddlers. This was met with some initial disappointment from some seasoned paddlers and those who could not see a problem.
However with the race underway and worsening conditions, when the race was shortened and finished before heading out onto the open stretch of the exposed waters of Slotermeer Lake towards Sloten, there was a sense of relief from all paddlers after a long day of paddling. Strong winds made for short steep waves of up to 1.5m while driving rain meant that temperatures never went much above 15c, the wind and rain adding to the wind chill factor. This shortened course, lessened the days course by approximately 8km.
Mistral’s Elite Female paddlers, Lena and Petronella, dominated their division unchallenged with Lena crossing 1st followed by Petronella. Should they avoid injury or fatigue, it seems this will be a race between them for the overall win. In the meantime, they will no doubt be happy to paddle together and make use of drafting.
In the Elite Men’s Division, Bruno Haysulo dominated and by the first bridge had opened up a 6 minute lead and at this stage and due to some uncertainty with timing, his lead could be as much as 20 minutes. Meanwhile a group consisting of Italy’s Martino Rogai and Paulo Marconi (Mistral), Joep van Bakel (Holland) and James Van Drunen (UK) made up the following pack.
During the day, Martino spent a lot of time out on his own, but seemingly the others were unwilling to push him or lead, perhaps waiting for the Lake to make their move; but in the end it was not to be. Additionally, his board suffered some damage due to ‘ramming’ from a competitor. At the finish, Italian Paulo finished 2nd followed by Martino and Joep together then James some 30 seconds behind in 4th. Meanwhile our Japanese paddlers had a tough day, but managed a Win in the Team Division. Tomorrow a fresh Team of paddlers will take over.
There’s a long way to go and many unpredictable outcomes possible. Will keep you informed!