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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.