After a week of action in Wanning, China for the 2018 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championships, the water has settled and the 196 best paddlers in the world from 27 nations are headed back to their home countries to get some much-deserved rest. The yearly team event, which features a SUP surfing competition and both SUP and paddleboard races in Sprint, Technical, Distance and Relay divisions, is unlike any other paddling competition in the world and features a veritable who-who of the world’s top talent. In 2018, that included newcomers such as host country China and Iran. In the end, Australia took gold, America took silver, France took bronze and Spain took copper.
Here’s what else we learned from the competition.
Australia is the strongest overall paddling nation on the planet
After a big come-from-behind victory, Australia clinched its sixth ISA team gold medal in seven years. Their dominance came from strong performances from the likes of Shakira Westdorp (who won her third gold in a row in surfing and a copper in the Technical Races), Grace Rosato (gold in paddleboard Technical and Distance), Lachie Lansdown (gold in paddleboard Technical) Michael Booth (gold in SUP Distance), as well as eight other individual medals.
The US Team was right in it until the end
The US is the only team to have taken a win off of Australia (2015). As the event unfolded it looked like they might repeat the feat in 2018 and knock them off their two-year winning streak. It all came down to the team relay on the final day of competition but Australia continued their dominance with a win there too.
US highlights included Candice Appleby taking her tear at the Pacific Paddle Games right on over to China. She took gold in the Technical races and took fifth in SUP surfing and, as the highest-placing North American in those disciplines, will be representing the US in the 2019 Pan American Games in those categories. Jade Howson and Ryan Funk both took convincing wins in the junior Technical races (this was the first time the ISA ran a junior division, a great addition to the event). On the traditional paddleboard side, Hunter Pflueger challenged the Australian Lansdown, losing to him in Technical race, but returning the favor with a gold in the Distance.
Some familiar faces took some big wins
- Olivia Piana won her first ISA gold medal in the Distance race after a string of five silvers. The Frenchwoman has had a fantastic 2018 and will be one to watch going into the new year.
- Brazil continues to grow in international paddle power. Luiz Diniz took his second consecutive gold medal in the fun offshore lefts of Riyue Bay against a stacked field ahead of his countryman Caio Vaz, who had to settle for Bronze. On Sprint race day, Arthur Santacreu won every single one of his heats, including the final to win gold after taking bronze in 2017.
- With her husband and one-year-old on the beach, South African Tarryn King took SUP Technical gold. Needless to say, winning a world championship one year after giving birth is an amazing accomplishment.
- Daniel Hasulyo, often referred to as a Distance racer, took gold in the SUP Technical against the best racers in the world, marking him as an increasing threat in a variety of conditions.
Until next year!