The Jr. Pro and Youth SUPfiesta | A Breeding Ground for Champions

Mo Freitas, mowing through the competition at SUPfiesta on his way to the head of the elite pack in professional standup paddling. Photo courtesy of Performance Paddling, Facebook
Mo Freitas, one of the many superstar SUP athletes in today’s top tier of competition, mowing through the Jr. Pro Invitational surf competition at SUPfiesta. Photo courtesy of Performance Paddling, Facebook

The Jr. Pro and Youth SUPfiesta—a Breeding Ground for Champions

Contenders of the world’s only elite youth-only SUP event who’ve graduated to the big leagues

SUPfiesta—officially known as the Quickblade Jr. Pro and Youth SUPfiesta presented by Infinity SUP—arrives today, and with it a gaggle of groms eagerly awaiting a chance to podium at standup paddling’s biggest youth showcase.  Since its inauguration in 2013, SUPfiesta has been a breeding ground for some of SUP’s most talented athletes. In only three short years, graduates of the event have gone on to become some of our sport’s biggest stars. Will a new star be born this weekend? Judging from the history books, we’ll say the odds look good. Take a look back at four of the most talented SUPfiesta grads and how their careers have taken off.

Izzi Gomez

Unless your head’s been buried in the sand for the past few years, the name Izzi Gomez should sound very familiar. Ironically, one of the few things missing from her stellar SUP resume happens to be a win at the Jr. Pro Invitational. She finished runner-up in both 2013 and 2014—the same year she went on to shock everyone and win the Women’s Standup World Tour, at only 14 years old.

The back-to-back World Champ was recently defeated at the Santa Cruz Paddlefest surf competition by little-known paddler Annie Reickert–who just so happens to be competing this weekend in the Jr. Pro surf contest. Will Reickert become the next paddler to go from the SUPfiesta to super stardom? Only time will tell, but she’s definitely one to watch this weekend.

Photo: Greg Panas
After finishing 2nd at the Jr. Pro in 2014, Izzi Gomez went on to win the Women’s Standup World Tour later that year. Photo: Greg Panas

Mo Freitas

If the SupFiesta had a hall of fame, Mo Freitas would undoubtedly be its first inductee. The North Shore, Oahu-born SUP prodigy swept both the racing and Jr. Pro Invitational each of the past two years. Defeating other budding SUP shredders including Bernd Roediger, Noa Hopper and Felippe Gaspar; Freitas proved early on he’d be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

In the professional ranks, Mo has already become a household name by notching big wins at multiple Standup World Tour events, the Payette River Games, the Santa Cruz Paddlefest and the inaugural Pacific Paddle Games. Now with Freitas graduated from the SUPfiesta, expect to see young SUP shredders charging hard to take his place as SUPfiesta’s top grom.

mofreitas2gregmendonca
Mo Freitas won the Jr. Pro Invitational the past two years. Photo: Greg Mendonca

Bernd Roediger

There’s no denying that Bernd Roediger’s free-flowing style is fun to watch. The young Maui SUP and windsurfing star is one of the most progressive SUP surfers in the sport and his raw talent is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in 2014, he participated in the SUPfiesta and notched a respectable fourth-place result in both the racing and Jr. Pro Invitational. Since then, he has continued to hone his talent and recently made it to the final round during this year’s epic Sunset Beach Pro. Many expect 2016 to be a big year for Bernd and with the recent footage of him shredding in Maui, we would not be surprised.

Bernd Roediger sending some spray onto his competition with this bold turn. We expect to see big things this year from the multi-talented Maui surfer. Photo: Greg Panas
Former Jr. Pro Invitational competitor Bernd Roediger charged into the final round of this year’s Sunset Beach Pro. Photo: Greg Panas

Fiona Wylde

Someone else who’s been impressed with Roediger’s abilities on the water would be fellow SUPFiesta grad Fiona Wylde, Roediger’s significant other and teenage superstar of the SUP racing scene. Talents not limited to racing, Wylde is also a SUP surfing powerhouse who broke into the competitive SUP world at the inaugural SUPfiesta, where she championed the girl’s race event and followed it up in 2014 by defeating Izzi Gomez in the Jr. Pro Invitational surf comp. Since then, Fiona and Izzi have continued to go head-to-head at the top of the women’s pro ranks. A friendly rivalry that began when they were little-known groms, battling it out at SUPfiesta.

Fiona Wylde
2014 Jr. Pro Invitational winner Fiona Wylde has gone on to become one of the sport’s top female SUP surfers. Photo: Tony Roberts

Related 

Complete preview for this year’s 4th annual Youth SupFiesta.

Take a trip down memory lane with a throwback gallery from past SupFiestas.

Complete list of who’s competing in this weekend’s Jr. Pro Invitational.