On September 16th, the Surfin‘ Venice SUP Race took place in beautiful Venice, Italy. Let’s start by saying that registering for this race was most likely the cheapest way ever to do a full day of sightseeing in (very expensive) Venice….but probably also the most exhausting and patience-testing.

The race entry fee included full day parking at Tronchetto (normally 20 EUR per day), access to the beach club of luxury ***** Hotel Excelsior  (normally about 300 EUR per night), transport of board and rider from Tronchetto to Venice Lido and from there to downtown Venice plus lunch and of course the famous red-white striped Lycra which riders could keep after the race.
Different from last year, where the race took place over the weekend, this year  both the race and the paddling parade on Canale Grande where scheduled to take place on the same day, a Sunday, so the riders had signed themselves up for an exhausting, but amazing 14-hour day of paddling (and waiting) in beautiful sunshine.
They had to check in at the Tronchetto parking lot at 8:00 AM and after being given the lycras/start numbers, they were transferred to the Lido Island where the race took place on the beautiful beach of the Excelsior hotel.  The boards had arrived via a separate boat at the back of the hotel, so more than one hundred SUPs had to be carried through the corridors of the luxury hotel  out to the front, quite a spectacle…
When reaching the seafront, the paddlers were greeted by (for Italian standards) quite a bit of swell, surfable waves of  about 2 feet and some wind, too. The organizers changed the planned long distance course to a triangular lap course of about 1.5km, which had to be paddled 4 times (total distance 6.5km). A chaotic beach start with over 100 riders battling their way out out through the surf, flying boards included, then one turn around a boat before a challenging paddle out into the ocean against wind and waves, then a nice downwinder back to the beach with a turn around a flag that was so close to the shore that depending on the water level, the turn was impossible: If  the paddler caught a wave and the water was high enough, he/she could surf around it,  if the flag was reached in between sets, he/she would have to manually walk-turn the board around and start paddling back out through the surf.

Leo Nika (Starboard) once more proved he is in amazing form and not only a strong paddler but also a great surfer. He won the race overall, on  the 12’6” BOP board in 0:37:23, followed by Daniele Guidi (Jimmy Lewis, 14’) and Fabrizio Gasbarro (Fanatic, 14’). Fabrizio was later placed 3rd in 14’ due to a  false start.

For the women’s, youngster Manca Notar from Slovenia (Naish) won before local heroes Silvia Mecucci (Jimmy Lewis) and Cecilia Pescatori (Starboard).
After what must have been the world’s longest queue for lunch, the prize giving and carrying the boards once more through the hotel, riders & boards were shuttled to downtown Venice, for a paddling parade on Canale Grande, for which the organizers had obtained special permission. It was a spectacular 5km paddle through small waterways and then the main canal with heavy boat traffic, passing all the famous sights like Rialto Bridge.  Due to a protest “no big ships on docks” the whole schedule of the day was terribly delayed, but the paddlers made it back to the starting point Tronchetto right in time with the last light at around  9PM.
Congratulations to all winners and big thanks to the organizers, especially Eliana Argine and main sponsor RRD for making this great event happen despite multiple unforeseen logistical difficulties. We’ll be back next year!
More photos will soon go up here:
Race  14’
1) Daniele Guidi (Jimmy Lewis) 0:38:32
2) Fabrizio Gasbarro (FANATIC) 0:38:46 (given 3rd place due to false start)
3) Pietro Fazioli 0:38:53
Race 12’6”: Senior
1) Leo Nika (Starboard) 0:37:23
2) Paolo Marconi (Jimmy Lewis) 0:39:06
3) Davide Codotto (FANATIC) 0:39:22
Race 12’6” Junior
1) Davide Ionico 0:40:01 (Fanatic)
2) Federico Benettolo 0:43:13 (Starboard)
3) Leonardo Torso 0:44:08
Race 12’6” Master
1) Stefano Padovani 0:41:20 (Bark)
2) Alberto Panetoni 0:44:24 (Naish)
3) Lorenzo Marchetti 044:53
Race 12’6” Women
1) Manca Notar (Naish) 0:45:56
2) Silvia Mecucci (Jimmy Lewis) 0:46:18
3) Cecilia Pescatori (Starboard) 0:49:05
Check out the video from the event: