The inaugural Florence Paddle Games was hosted in the beautiful location of Canottieri Firenze with the iconic Ponte Vecchio providing a spectacular backdrop. Starboard team took a clean sweep of the men’s podium with ISA World Champion Bruno Hasulyo taking top podium honours.
It is a three-day event (27 – 29 April) with the Starboard SUP clinics and check-in to kick things off on Friday. Saturday is the main event – the Uffizi SUP Race – a 16 km flatwater race under the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge – a picturesque medieval arched river bridge with Roman origins, lined with jewellery & souvenir shops. This was also one three Paddle Lague‘s regional events taking place this weekend carrying a maximum of 20 points.
“The Florence Paddle Games has been an amazing event, for sure. I’m so happy and proud of it. Probably the most exciting race in Italy ever, we followed the schedule giving the right focus to everybody.” ~ Martino Rogai – Event Organiser
Starboard Team on top and having a great time | Picture by Gianpiero Venè for Starboard Italy
The Starboard team took a clean sweep of the men’s podium with ISA World Champion Bruno Hasulyo (Hungary) taking home the top spot on the podium ahead of teammates Leo Nika 2nd (Italy), Martino Rogai 3rd (Italy), Claudio Nika 4th (Italy) and Liran Machlev in 5th (Israel).
This was a special race for Bruno – here are some words from the winner;
“I grew up in Florence as a kid so when the organisers invited me to join the games, I had no doubt about going or not. Something between majestic and unreal. I knew the first day of the event was the hard part and on Sunday it was all about fun so I have really been looking forward to the event.
During the race, its was all about tactics as it was totally flat. Not a surprise, in the leading train we all had flat water boards. In the leading group, Martino Rogai, Claudio Nika and also Leonard Nika were all on 14′ x 21’5 Sprint – just like me.
I had a really good final “fight” with Leo, which began before the last buoy. Fortunately, I managed to get to his inside before the last turn, and this set me up so that I managed to beat him in the last sprint. I was very happy to bring home a victory in the city where I grew up! I am really happy.”
Thanks to everyone who took part and to The Florence Paddle Games organisers Toscanasup.org, the Florentine athlete Martino Rogai and Innate Sport Excellence by Riccardo Tonini, making it a fixed stop for the Italian circuit.
Photo Credits: Emilie Masson Photography / @emiliemasson.surf