Starboard Dream Team rider Daniel Hasulyo has been on a tear through the Asian SUP racing season. This past weekend saw the Hungarian racer take a double Gold in China, winning both the challenging 2023 Paddle Jiangnan race as well as the SUPPOOL100 event that followed. The competition was fierce, beating out his legendary brother Bruno Hasulyo — showing us that sibling rivalry is not dead — and local hero Jianglei.
However, this weekend is not all about the elite athletes, as we witnessed paddlers on all craft from around the world taking part in the action and challenging themselves to beat their times from last year’s race. With over 400 paddlers taking part, Daniel recaps what this weekend is all about.
We have just wrapped up one of the most exciting weekend of racing of the season in China, bringing home double gold medal for Team Starboard from both the 18km Distance and the 100M Super Sprint format, solidifying once again our dominance on the market and showcasing the Tiki spirit among one of the most vibrant SUP communities of the world.
Mr. Joe, Liu Ming and the rest of the organizers once again delivered a true world class all day competition, proving that they are more than ready to host large scale international events in the future, as a matter of fact, we did agree with Bruno (who flew in for this event regardless his retirement announced just recently from professional racing, for a last dance) that from Start to finish, the quality of the race, the delivery in organization and the atmosphere and enthusiasm was excelling any of this years European events, with a deep wish for many to look at this race as an example to follow.
As long lasting tradition, the event was featuring both SUP and Kayak disciplines, where close to 400 paddlers entered the water on the day, in different categories, highlighting the common love for the outdoors and paddle sports.
On Friday, besides the registration, I had the chance to share my experience and knowledge with a very attentive group of paddlers, that I had the pleasure to get ready and hyped up for race day, in a special pro workshop. This has been my 6th trip to China and I can only confirm that their over all national level is rapidly raising by the month and I feel very proud to be among the few if not the only pro athlete that has been actively present since 2019 to help them in this process.
The event location, the Shanghai Meifan Yacht Club on Dianshan Lake, in the suburbs of Shanghai, surrounded by beautiful parks, multiple canals, waterways, lakes and ancient towns really offered a truly uplifting frame to the entire competition and the 18km round race course through the water paths made every stroke a memorable experience, mixing historical views submerged in nature and perfect conditions for flat water racing.
On race day, the we had perfect weather for distance paddling, not too hot, not too cold, clear sky and very light wind, which made the last 3kms of the race extra exciting as we had to cross the lake to get back to the marina and the light cross head wind made you work for every inch.
With most of China’s TOP elite athletes and my brother, Bruno, world champion ultra distance specialist on the start line, all was set for an incredible flat water hammer fest and I knew that I had to push top gear to create a memorable result.
With my favorite flat water board the 2022 Hollow Sprint 14×20.75 under my feet I knew what I had to do and when the horn blew, it was game on!
There was a real story inside the story here, as Bruno and I have been each other’s biggest fans and competitors since the beginning, and we both knew that this was probably one of our last real battles together. 6x SUP11 City Tour winner I knew that he is in one of the best shapes of his life and me getting ready for the ICF Worlds coming up next month, made the competition extra fierce, although I paddled my favourite board while he was on a new Molokai prototype that he used for the first time.
We had a good start, shooting out with the pack, and it was really impressive to see the starting speed of some of the Chinese athletes, but I kept my calm and about 1km into the race I managed to gap the field and never looked back. The Sprint was flying through the canals and I felt very good throughout the whole course. For a while, Bruno was on my tail, but eventually, I paddled away. I finished 18.6km in 1hour48mins, with a solid lead, but most honestly towards the last kilometre emotions over took me like a flooding river, memories just kept rolling through my brain and I was in tears knowing that this might be the last time that we are actually competing against each other. I kept it together, but as soon as I crossed the finish line, I made a 180* turn and headed back to catch up with Bruno, to once again take the last strokes together and recross the finish line side by side, SUPBROz Style. To say that this has been the most emotional last kilometres of any race I entered would be an understatement and although I know that this won’t be the LAST time we paddle together, really, every stroke burnt a mark on my heart and will stay with us forever.
Having my wife Sai, our daughter Jasmine, and 100’s of fans cheering for us from the sides made this moment extra special.
The afternoon was all about adrenaline. Joe created a patented race format SUPOOL100, that really creates some of the most fun, most competitive and skill-proving challenges that I’ve seen around. 1 on 1, direct elimination, 100M symmetrical course, with jumping dock start, 5 buoy turns, 12’6 one design inflatable boards turned the Marina into an exciting Arena. I had the chance to race this format in April in an Olympic pool in Jiangle, while this time the course was set inside the marina and once again competition got extremely real! No space for mistake and with many strong Chinese Sprinter lining up against us, there was no easy heat and no room for wobble.
The final, was a rematch of April’s battle with Jianglei, one of the strongest Chinese athletes at the moment, but with focus and determination, I came up on top. The event also featured multiple categories, Battle of the Athletes, Battle of the Brands, Tandem Battles, Relays and to conclude Battle of the Nations, a relay race among the top 2 Chinese finishers and Bruno and I, where at the end we took another victory, but regardless the result i can’t express enough how much fun everyone had from the whole afternoon!
To conclude the event, in the evening we hosted a 2 hour talk show, with many prominent figures of the industry, the organizers of the event, and us, chatting about ICF (as more than 100 Chinese paddlers will join the event in Thailand this year), the relationship with Sponsors, the future of the sports and our international experiences, that went LIVE broadcast across the whole country.
I have to say that I am really impressed with the professionalism that went into each detail of the event from start to finish and I can only invite paddlers and SUP enthusiasts from all over the World to come and join next year’s edition of the Paddle Jiangnan! A real special shout out to the entire crew here in China for yet another spotless event!
Tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Singapore, for a week of training and workshops and next weekend’s Singapore Ocean Cup to conclude this 3 week tour.
Stay tuned for lots more good content!
See you soon,