Beautiful scene from the third stop of the 2017 Euro Tour. Photo: The Euro Tour

2017 Euro Tour Update: Booth and Hönscheid Dominating After Stop Number 5 of 12

Over the course of 12 stops and three grueling months, the 2017 Euro Tour brings the world’s top paddlers to some of Europe’s most scenic waterways and historic cities. From Greek islands to the French Riviera, the races are equal parts competitive and beautiful. With five events in the books so far, Aussie Michael Booth and German Sonni Hönscheid seem to be in command of a talented field of paddlers including Connor Baxter, Titouan Puyo, Candice Appleby and Olivia Piana. Now let’s take a brief look at each stop to get you caught up on all the action from across the pond.

Stop #1: Agios Nikolaos on SUP 2017 (Greece) – The season-opening round of the 2017 Euro Tour was held in the turquoise waters off the picturesque Greek island of Crete. With the first two races being regional events and offering less points, many of the top paddlers had not yet joined the tour. Nevertheless, competition was still fierce as many of Europe’s top paddlers were anxious to get their season started.

The 15-kilometer elite distance race featured whipping downwind conditions to start and brutal upwind conditions to finish, as racers were forced to contend with 25 knot winds all day. On the men's side, Leonard Nika put forth a commanding effort to defeat Italian Paolo Marconi and a host of other talented athletes. Meanwhile, New Zealand's Penelope Strickland put on a dominate showing to best Italian paddler Susak Molinero, who would finish runner-up.

Stop #2: Namur SUP Race (Belgium) – While many of the top names were missing from the race, rising star Bruno Hasulyo was able to claim victory over Italian duo Martino Rogai and Bruno Capparella. Meanwhile, the women’s race was won by Dutch paddler Petronella van Malsen.

Stop #3: The SUP Race Cup (France) – The first “prime” event of the season brought a talented field of the world’s best paddlers to St. Maxime, France for the 2017 SUP Race Cup. The two-day event featured a beach race on Saturday and a long distance race on Sunday, with the combined times determining the overall results.

Racing begins from Sainte Maxime. Photo: The Euro Tour

The beach race featured windy conditions and tight racing as Connor Baxter and Titouan Puyo battled all the way to the finish. After a sprint up the beach, it was Puyo who would come away with the victory by a mere four seconds. Michael Booth would come home in third place after falling in the final buoy turn.

Needing to make up time on day two, Booth stayed patient through much of the race before pulling away from the lead draft train to win by nearly two minutes–more than enough to win the overall. The real race was for second, where Baxter and Puyo finished neck and neck for the second day in a row. This time the advantage went to Baxter by two seconds. However, that left Baxter two seconds shy of eclipsing Puyo’s overall time and relegated the Maui paddler to a third place result.

Sonni Hönscheid dominated the ladies in both the beach and distance races en route to a convincing overall victory. Her teammate Olivia Piana put forth an impressive effort to come home in second, with American paddler Candice Appleby rounding out the podium.

Stop #4: Hossegor Paddle Games (France) – Connor Baxter came into the fourth stop of the tour looking to make a statement and he would not be denied. The Maui paddler placed first in both the surf and distance races to claim a convincing overall victory. Behind him were usual suspects Booth and Puyo, with Booth getting the runner-up finish and Puyo getting third overall. Not to be forgotten was a strong third place run by Trevor Tunnington in the surf race–he would finish fourth overall.

The men’s lead pack heads into a buoy turn in Hossegor. Photo: The Euro Tour

The women’s race was tight with Hönscheid winning the distance race over Piana on Saturday, only to have Piana flip the tables on her the following day in the surf race. With their combined results the same, the tiebreaker came down to their overall time. This gave Hönscheid the victory by a mere three seconds, a tough pill to swallow for the talented French paddler. Meanwhile, Appleby rounded out the podium for the second week in a row.

Stop #5: Thonon-les-Bains WUE SUP Race (France) – This 18-kilometer race on Lake Geneva began in Switzerland and ended in France. Between those two points, Michael Booth reasserted his dominance and crushed his competition en route to his second victory on the 2017 Euro Tour circuit. Following the Australian was Puyo holding on for second place and Baxter coming home in third. Other notable results included Tahitian paddling legend Georges Cronsteadt rallying for seventh after a poor start and Mo Freitas placing tenth.

Michael Booth charging en route to winning the Thonon race. Photo: The Euro Tour

It was déjà vu in the women’s race with Hönscheid claiming the top spot and Piana coming home second. Meanwhile, Floridian Seychelle Hattingh came home third.

Next Up – The Euro Tour rolls on to Bilbao World SUP Challenge in the Basque Country on June 10th. The trio of Booth, Baxter, and Puyo will go to battle once again as the racers try to wrestle the advantage away from the Australian powerhouse. Meanwhile, the women will have their targets set on Höenscheid, but whether anyone can catch her remains a big question mark.

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