The 4th stop of the EuroTour took place in Namur, Belgium from April 27-28th. In its ninth edition, one of the original events from the EuroTour, the Happy Summer marked the 1st
Grand Slam of the Summer season with a lot of anticipation from the athletes to claim the highly regarded points and podium spots,
The competition started on Saturday afternoon with the Main Race, using their classical course route around the river in the middle of the city. With a very challenging weather forecast and a small hail storm that happened right before the briefing, the stage was set for a dramatic day of action. There is a saying in Belgium; 'If you don’t like the weather you should wait 10mins and it will change' and Saturday was no exception, with the sun making an appearance to open the race briefing. After that the wind arrived to make for a challenging 4 laps around the city course. Petronella Van Malsen from The Netherlands and Claudio Nika from Italy claimed the overall wins.
The Women’s race saw a very competitive field that was clearly led from the start to finish by eventual event champion Petronella Van Malsen. Not far behind her was her compatriot Ella Oesterholt keeping a very solid pace which saw her close the gap in the middle stages of the race, and always remain within contention of the win. Behind her German Hannah Leni Krah showed that she means business this season finishing 3rd, fending off continuous attacks from Kristyna Babiankova(Starboard) from the Czech Republic who never left off the gas to finish 4th. Another fight for the last spot on the podium went on between also Czech Iva Dundova (NSP) and Frenchwoman Marie Dautruche (Starboard) finishing 5th and 6th respectively.
In the Men’s race tactics played a strong role this year with everyone following a similar course in the river and a group of 7 paddlers forming a train that would stay together for most of the race. About half way through Swiss country man Alain Luck (Fanatic) lost the group on the upwind leg to be caught by the chasing group led by Peter Weidert(LightCorp) from Germany, Kjell De Bruyn(Fanatic) from Belgium and Rui Ramos(Starboard) from Portugal. Eventually Alain showed that his winter training has been solid to finish in 7th place and the rest completing the coveted Top10.
In the front pack, veteran Ricardo Haverschmidt from The Netherlands finishing in a very solid 6th place - achieving his best result to date. Also from The Netherlands and always finishing 5th in the podium here in Namur was Joep Van Bakel (Fanatic) who had a frantic sprint to the finish line with team mate, Italian Davide Ionico (Fanatic) in 4th. Looking very comfortable all race Frenchman Yannis Maire (F-One) claimed a very impressive 3rdplace. With a frantic sprint to the finish line a very in shape James Van Drunen (LightCorp) from the UK fell agonisingly short to event winner, Claudio Nika, to finish 2nd and 1strespectively. Claudio who was over the moon with his maiden EuroTour victory here in Namur, continues the streak of new winners started last year and shows that this race is very unpredictable until the end,
The closing ceremony followed shortly after on the floating podium on the river at Charlie’s Capitanerie. A fantastic event for everyone, that confirmed that this year’s EuroTour is on track of being the biggest yet. We really want to thank Bertrand and all the staff at Charlie’s Capitanerie for being amazing hosts and taking care of everyone as well as all the sponsors for making it possible. Photographers & Videographers Mayola Dijksman & Alain Luck for the great footage; and of course Georgia Schofield for the great highlights clip.
Stay tuned as The EuroTour goes to Austria, for Regional stop#5 SUP Nightrace Event on the 30th of April and we gear for another Grand Slam event next weekend in France for the Azur Paddle Days in Nice on the 4-5th of May.