A Look Back at the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship
Welcome to Sayulita, a tiny Mexican town on the Pacific where fish become tacos and nations become champions. Sayulita is home to a quiet 5,000 residents, and for one week of the year, it’s also home the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship—the competition for the best nation in SUP. During that week, 27 nations converged to compete in four definitive disciplines of the sport—long distance racing, SUP surfing, technical racing and team relays. It’s a monumental occasion, almost like SUP’s very own Olympics.
This year, the United States laid indisputable claim. The US SUP Team team dominated throughout the week-long International Surfing Association (ISA) event, earning America’s overall championship title and disarming Team Australia’s historic stronghold on the ISA Worlds.
Of the nine total races (one for each gender in distance racing, prone distance racing, SUP surfing and technical racing, and a combined-gender team relay), the US took gold medals in six. Candice Appleby brought home two—one in the Women’s Technical Race and another in the Women’s Long Distance Race—while the US’s current World Champ, Izzi Gomez, took out former ISA Champ, Nicole Pacelli (BRA), to win the Woman’s SUP Surfing division. Dynamite performances from the American females paired with teammate Danny Ching’s first-place finish in the Men’s Long Distance Race and Sean Poynter‘s in Men’s SUP Surfing to fix the US with double-golds in two events. The only SUP event the US didn’t win first in was the Men’s Technical Race, but with Hawaiians Connor Baxter (1st) and Mo Freitas (2nd) in contention, who can really blame the mainlanders? Besides, isn’t Hawaii technically part of the US anyway? Congress would like to think so, though most Hawaiian watermen wouldn’t.
In related news, Team Australia fumbled their three-year winning spree, but not without dominating the prone paddling events in all but one division—the Men’s Technical Prone Race—which American Jack Bark added to the US’s pot of gold for good measure. Australia’s standout performance came once again from prone paddler Jordan Mercer, who won both the women’s technical and distance races for the second consecutive ISA Worlds SUP and Paddleboard Championship. Team Australia also won the team relay ahead of runner-up, Team New Zealand.
In addition to the competition, the week was themed with an overwhelming sense of camaraderie among the global paddling community. As flags from all corners of the globe flew side-by-side among the massive and eclectic beach crowd, the significance of victory took a back burner to shared appreciation and support for the sport. Mexico played a gracious host, and its grateful guests all contributed to the party.
"[This week] was not only about the competition in the water," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre. "The energy on the beach was that of a true World Championship. This sport is about more than just the contest, it is about the friendship and camaraderie."
For a young sport in the course of claiming its role on the international main stage, the 2015 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship was s a massive stroke in the right direction.—Mike Fields
More stories from the 2015 ISA Worlds:
Full results from the 2015 ISA Worlds SUP Surfing competition.
Day 1: SUP Surfing Early Rounds
Day 2: Women’s SUP and Prone Distance Race
Day 3: Men’s SUP and Prone Distance Race
Day 4: SUP Surfing Repocharge and Middle Rounds
Day 5: SUP Surfing Finals
Day 6: SUP Technical Qualifying Race, Prone Technical Race and Team Qualifying Relay
Day 7: Technical Race Finals and Team Relay Finals