2016 Bilbao World SUP Challenge Preview

Now that the Euro Tour has officially crossed the one-third mark in the season, the racers will head south to the scenic Basque Country for perhaps the biggest race on the European calendar.

The 2016 Bilbao World SUP Challenge is taking place this weekend (June 3-5) and with the largest purse of the tour–10,000 euros–a deep field of top international paddlers is expected to compete. With already over 200 entries, the race will be a hard fought battle for both the women and men.

The main event will take place on Saturday–a 14km race on the Nervión River that will take racers through the heart of Bilbao and past the iconic architecture of the Guggenheim Museum. With last year’s main race only being 12km, it will be interesting to see how the extra two kilometers will impact the race.

The past two weeks of the Euro Tour have featured heated battles between Starboard teammates Connor Baxter and Michael Booth. Booth out-sprinted Baxter last weekend to win the prestigious Lost Mills race, while the weekend before that it was Baxter who narrowly edged out the victory at St. Maxime. Look for these two to continue their battle at Bilbao, but also expect them to be pushed to the limit by other top paddlers including Carolina Cup winner Titouan Puyo, Mo Freitas, Noa Hopper and a whole host of top European challengers.

As for the women’s circuit, Sonni Höenscheid has dominated her competition and looked completely untouchable. However, early indications are that she may be sitting this race out. If that holds true, the door will be wide-open for a number of ultra-fast women to claim victory. This includes Americans Fiona Wylde and Seychelle Hattingh, both of whom had strong showings last weekend in Germany.

To get a glimpse of what to expect in Bilbao, check out this latest teaser video featuring highlights from previous years. Then stay tuned to SUPthemag.com for a complete recap and analysis of this world-class event.


Complete recap of last week’s thrilling Lost Mills race.

More 2016 Euro Tour coverage.