Another great weekend of competition in the books, and a brilliant result for Team Starboard, with Fernando, the young Spanish bull surprised the whole field, taking home the overall and Rai coming in 3rd.
The event was once again organized spotlessly by KAPP, truly showing commitment to offer a world-class platform to race and for the future of the sport. Over the 3 days (the event was extended due to bad weather conditions) there were hundreds of competitors in different categories, and it was amazing to see more than 45 entries in the juniors, we battled it out both in Distance and Sprint events. On the last day, they also introduced a special SUP DOG competition, which really brought a whole new colour to the event.
In the Pro Racing, Saturday it was all about Sprints. Wind, chop, currents and small waves made the 300m course extra challenging allowing incredible lead changes in all heats.
I made it through until the semi-finals where a small mistake at the start threw me off rhythm so I concluded the day in P7, from the consolation final. This was not my best result here in Busan, but regardless, I was happy knowing that I paddled my heart out and we all delivered a great show. The final was probably the most hectic and exciting race of the day, where all athletes went down at least once, and there were many swaps in the leads, but Fernando wanted it the most to which he put down the hammer down, paddling his All Star to victory and stamping his name amongst the worlds best.
Sunday morning we woke up all happy as the conditions on the water were very exciting, nice clean big waves rolling through the Bay of Busan, spiced up with a slight wind The conditions were set for a great long-distance race, however, local authorities stopped the event as according to regulation no boat or paddle board was allowed in the water due to extreme conditions.
We had to wait for the conditions to calm down and the temporary water closure to be lifted. We received the green light around 2 pm, with fewer waves, but more wind and rain, which made the course setting complicated, so we ended up racing at 4 pm on a crazy 15km, technical distance race, with 15 beach runs, and 20 turns. Rai started off with an extremely high pace, so on lap 1 we all went on his chase. There was a lot of texture on the water not allowing to draft, so we all chose the lines that we thought would be best. I was mandated to climb up onto 3rd throughout the race, but Fernando and Itzel pulled away on a couple of waves around lap 3 leaving Connor and me in a classic battle for 5th.
Going around lap 4 I was coming back into a good rhythm, the longer distance was definitely in my favour, so I pushed with the aim to close the gap to Connor. I managed to successfully get in contact and paddle home with him to another 5th place here in Korea.
I loved the race, it was truly technical and difficult, leaving all of us super exhausted at the end. A classic battle ’til the end.
The atmosphere, the organization, and the Korean SUP Community were incredibly enthusiastic throughout the whole event, and as most of the races got cancelled on Sunday, the fun continued on Monday morning, with most of the junior and amateur distance races taking place at Gwangalli Beach. Special mention to one of our Chinese Starboard riders, who took the U18 overall title.
There are lots of good stories around the event, I can’t wait for next year’s edition already! It’s really refreshing to see how much effort and energy the KAPP is putting into the sport and the youth! I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next 5years, just like Okinawa came alive, we would see the next generation of strong Korean paddlers coming up as the fruit of many years of work and dedication.
Always a pleasure to work with Jerry and such an exuberant bunch of paddlers.
We are heading up to Yang Yang beach now, tomorrow we will be shooting SUP Surfing, and on Wednesday we are moving over to Shanghai for the next race 😉
See you soon and well done to the whole team once again 💪
~ Daniel Hasulyo
PC: KAPP / APP World Tour