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A Nail-biting finish marks Antonio Morillo as the Champion in the Men’s Open Category of the inaugural India Paddle Festival

  • Spain’s Esperanza Barreras wins the Women’s Open (Long distance SUP) category
  • The Men’s Open (Long distance SUP) category saw a thrilling finish between champion Antonio & Christian Andersen
  • National Champion, Sekar Patchai finishes fifth

Mangalore: The Men’s Open category in the Long Distance Technical SUP race of the inaugural India Paddle Festival saw a nail-biting finish keeping fans enthralled as the top three finishers were separated by a margin of a few seconds. Antonio Morillo of Spain emerged as the champion, while Denmark’s Christian Andersen finished second. Top seed and World no. 2 Spaniard, Fernando Perez finished third. The Women’s Open category in the Long Distance Technical SUP race saw Spain’s Esperanza Barreras walk away as the champion while Irin of Thailand finished second. Junior SUP champion from Italy, Bianca Toncelli finished third.

The three day SUP event is the country’s first-ever International SUP championship and is being hosted at the Sasihithlu beach, Mangalore from 8-10 March, 2024. The event is being presented by Karnataka Government and organized by Surfing Swami Foundation. The India Paddle Festival is sanctioned by the Association of PaddleSurf Professionals World Tour (APP).

Day 2 began with the heats of the SUP Technical Long Distance (10 kms) race for the Men’s Open category at the India Paddle Festival. From a total of 20 athletes from two heats, a total of 10 (5 from each heats) made their way to the finals. The finalist also included two Indians viz; India no. 1 Sekar Patchai and Manikandan D. The other finalist included Antonio Morillo, Daniel Hasyulo, Natapat Koman, Septenandow Horomati, Fernando Perez, Christian Andersen, Han Sung Ho, Zaki Hibrizi.

The day progressed with the finals of the SUP Technical Long Distance (10 kms) race for the Women’s Open category which saw a total of seven participants from Spain, Italy, Thailand, South Korea and India. World no. 2, Esperanza Barreras from Spain walked away with the winner’s trophy with a timing of 59:38 minutes. Thailand’s Irin N finished second with a total time of 1:05:23 hrs, while SUP Junior Champion, Bianca Toncelli from Italy finished third with a total time of 1:08:21 hrs.

India Paddle Festival
Long Distance Technical Race Mens Open category champion Antonio Morillo in action

The highlight of the day, the finals of the SUP Technical Long Distance in the Men’s Open category saw a thrilling finish with the top three separated by a margin of a few seconds. Antonio Morillo finished first with a total time of 56:59 minutes while second placed Christian Andersen fell short of the first place by just a second and a half (57:00.151 minutes). Top seed Fernando Perez finished third with a total time of 57:28 minutes. Former world champion, Daniel Hasyulo finished fourth with a total time of 59:10 seconds while national champion, Sekar Patchai finished fifth with a total time of 1:01:06 hrs.

Speaking after winning the Long Distance Technical Race Men’s Open category title, Antonio said, “It was definitely one of my best races under challenging conditions and I am glad that I could finished at the top in such a close finish. I am very impressed with the Indian stand-up paddlers and with such a robust infrastructure they have it in hand and such beautiful weather conditions, I am confident that I’ll meet quite a few of them at the international level very soon.”

India Paddle Festival
L to R Daniel Hasyulo 4th place Fernando Perez 3rd place Antonio Morillo 1st Place and Chritsian Andersen 2nd place

Speaking after winning the Long Distance Technical Race Women’s Open category title, Esparanza said “I am super happy to win the title at the India Paddle Festival. This is my first time in India and I’m very impressed with the conditions here in Mangalore and I enjoyed competing here.”

When asked about her views on the competitors and the Indian Stand-up paddlers, she further said, “The competition was strong and the Indian girls have a lot of potential and are very competitive in nature. I am confident that in due course of time with the right infrastructure and training that is being provided by Surfing Swami Foundation, these girls will start leaving a mark internationally.”

National Champion Sekar Patchai after his fifth place finish said, “It was a great experience racing against the world’s best. What was inspiring to witness that in spite of a rough ocean, the international athletes fought their way through. We learnt a lot from them as far as techniques are concerned and I am hopeful that more such international completions should be held in India throughout the year for us to have a real time competitive experience.”

The final day of the India Paddle Festival will feature the community race final that starts at 10:00 am while the Women’ Sprints will take place 11:00 am onwards. The Men’s Sprint will start 2:00 pm onwards followed by the closing ceremony at 5:00 pm.

The Association of PaddleSurf Professionals World Tour (APP) announced its entry in India with the country’s first-ever International Stand-Up Paddling championship last month. The India Paddle Festival is the first step in an exciting new development journey for the organization as a significant growth of the sport in the region over the coming years. Presented by Karnataka Tourism, organized by the Surfing Swami Foundation, the India Paddle Festival will welcome a selection of top athletes from the APP World Tour, as well as other aspiring professionals from the region.

 

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