The 11th stop of the EuroTour took place in Bilbao, Euskadi in June 8-9th. In its seventh edition, Bilbao is one of the oldest events in Europe and has grown to be the biggest event on tour. The infamous race on the “Ria” with all the city’s landmarks including the Guggenheim museum and the Iberdrola tower, are the closest thing to a stadium, that our sport gets - with the crowds cheering on the 300 competitors making the water boil .
Friday evening the event opened with the traditional official ceremony at the Iberderola tower, that offers the best view in the city - it’s a one off opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of Bilbao.
On Saturday morning the most highly contested race of the weekend took place, the “Txiki Race”. With record numbers in participation again, this year competitors as young as 8years old flooded the river and thanks to one of our main sponsors, Sunova Surfboards, all the kids had proper raceboards with the specially design balsa/carbon 10’6 ones. This is by far the highlight of the vent, and guarantees the future of the sport while atesting that SUP is an activity for the entire family. The ceremony followed shortly after before lunch time, given the little ones their time to shine.
In the afternoon the main competition took place with both the Elite and Amateur races. At 5pm all the competitors put their boards on the water, flooding the river with craft. This year the women had their own race starting 12mins ahead of the pack to avoid clashes with any participants, after the men went and after all the Amateur fleet. With the biggest talent on tour present this was always going to be a tough one to win with France's Olivia Piana and Hungary’s Bruno Hasulyo (Lightcorp) emerging victorious in the season’s biggest event.
For the woman’s race, it was a very tight battle the whole way for the Top 6, who traded places during the whole place. The dominance of Frenchwoman Olivia Piana saw her claim her 2nd straight title, making her the clear favorite for the tour’s Overall title.
With a very tight race, the podium came down to a frantic sprint, were Spaniard Laura Quetglas (Starboard) came in a fantastic 2nd, followed immediately by Catalonian Susak Molinero in 3rd who also claimed her best result to date in Bilbao. Back again on tour was USA’s superstar Fiona Wylde (Starboard) who besides some difficulties with her sugar levels (Fiona is a Type-I Diabetic who shows her amazing commitment to the sport) finishing in a very respectable 4th place. France’s Amandine Chazot (Sunova) followed in 5th being chased by USA’s Seychelle Webster (SIC who finished 6th. Canarian Esperanza Barreras (Starboard) showing that her result in Donosti was no fluke and followed leading the chasing group in 7th, just ahead of Petronella Van Malsen in 8th, Melanie Lafenetre from France came in 9th and closing the Top 10 was Italian Caterina Stenta.
The Men’s race was one of the most intense finishes we’ve ever had where Bruno was being chased by EuroTour and Bilbao multi-champ Michael Booth (Starboard). The Australian looked in control the whole race at the front, until a supremely impressive sprint from Bruno to the line. The two went side a by side, stroke by stroke to the finish until Boothy’s paddle slipped from his hand giving Bruno an extra stroke. The champ came back only to see it happen again, and see Bruno surge to victory. A very clean battle from both of them and an epic show for the spectators where both athletes only had good words for one another after the finish in the interviews; showing their professionalism and sportsmanship. Big congrats to the Lightcorp athlete who got a well deserved win.
Not far behind them was New Caledonian Titouan Puyo (NSP) who finished solidly in 3rd place being chased to the line by Frenchman Arthur Arutkin (Fanatic) 4th and Tahitian Enzo Bennett (425PRO) in 5th.
In the second group Frenchman Tom Auber (Fanatic) made the best of a last minute bump to finish 6th followed very closely by the ever consistent Brazilian Vinnicius Martins in 7th and Frenchman Martin Vitry (SIC) 8th who had led the chasing group for most of the final kilometer. Shortly after came Australian Ty Judson (NSP) in 9th and the other Hungarian powerhouse Daniel Hasulyo (Starboard) closing the Top10.
The award ceremony followed in the evening by the river, with a great job by speaker Jpn from Bwaters. A huge thanks to the entire Bwaters team and specially Macarena and Alejandra for all their hard work. Thanks to all the sponsors, and specially Iberdrola for year after year setting the standard. Eskerrik Asko Bilbo, see you in 2020.