Monday 7 May 2012

Simon van Gysen wins the closest Eurochallenge ever

As it's usual at the surfski races around the world, South Africans and Australians were clear dominators at the Eurochallenge 2012, race included in the World Surfski Series, held this weekend at Vilajoiosa (Spain). Big names at the start line to go into a Mediterranean Sea quite more calmed than the conditions many of them would have preferred, most of all for Sunday, to paddle the downwind race.

On Saturday, the first race consisted on a triangular course of 20 km. heading North along the coast and coming back to Vilajoiosa's port. Almost 200 paddlers took the start to make a small lap into the dock before going out to open sea. From the very first strokes, the southern hemisphere contestants were already setting the pace, while only a bunch of the top first line Spanish paddlers were able to keep that rythm, like Kiko Vega, Daniel Sánchez Viloria or Walter Bouzán. But the leading bunch was not in the mood to let the guests in, so the consagrated Sean Rice, Hank McGregor, Dawid Mocke, Jeremy Cotter, etc... started planning the race on their own.

Coming out of the dock, a group of four took the lead, with Cotter setting the pace with McGregor, Rice and Simon van Gysen on his wash. Dawid Mocke were slowly losing contact and the strength of those at the front punished him with a solo paddle trying to come back. At half of the race, turning around a small island and heading for the 500 € Think Spot, Sean Rice tried to break up the group and started pushing hard, but then he made a schoolboy mistake, as he admitted afterwards, and missed the line looking for the wrong buoy. Then his rivals managed to close the gap and it was then McGregor who speeded up to win the Think Spot prize. But he didn't relaxed and started breaking the race. Van Gysen managed to resist McGregor's push, but Rice and Cotter saw how they were saying goodbye to the first positions.

Arriving back to Vilajoiosa, it was the Simon van Gysen who tried to leave behind McGregor and was about to succeed when he turned into the harbour instead of going to the last buoy. When he realized and rectified, McGregor was again neck to neck with him. After a long and hard sprint, only 4 tenths of a second gave van Gysen the victory. Amazingly short difference for an hour and a half race. With less than a minute it was the turn for Sean Rice, third, and Jeremy Cotter, fourth. Later on, Dawid Mocke started the drop of paddlers into the finish line, with Michael Booth, Kiko Vega, Daniel S. Viloria, Walter Bouzán, Cory Hill, Oscar Chalupsky and Hayden Smith, just to name the first big names. Just behind them it was time for the first double boat, with the Spanish Antoni Roig and Jordi Costa, just one minute ahead of the Spanish Marathon Team crew of  Pedro Gutiérrez and Luis Amado Pérez.

On Sunday, the downwind race was missing some windy conditions, only some breeze was blowing from time to time and making some little waves to play with. Simon van Gysen then played the same role as he played the day before and was sticked to the leading bunch for more than half of the race before making his move. If 4 tenths of a second decided the first race, another four appeared on Sunday too to give van Gysen his second win, this time over Sean Rice, and the victory overall. Jeremy Cotter managed to be third and McGregor was fourth, but losing a precious time that finally left him out of the podium. Simon van Gysen then claimed gold at this Eurochallenge 2012 and took the 3.750 € for the winner.

At the singles ladies, the British Jenna Hawkey won both races, not easily due to the push of the French Angie Mouden, stepping just behind her during the whole weekend. Third, but far from the lead, was the Portuguese Sofia Semedo.

In doubles men, victory for the Spanish Roig and Costa, while in the ladies category the also Spanish Carmen Campos and Pilar del Villar took the first position.

At this links yo can check the results for day 1 and for day 2.

The overall standings of the Eurchallenge were as follows for the top categories:

PosPaddlerCountryRace 1Race 2Total

1Simon van GysenSouth Africa01:32:2401:13:4802:46:12
2Sean RiceSouth Africa01:32:3601:13:4802:46:24
3Jeremy CotterAustralia01:32:5801:14:0802:47:06

1Jenna HawkeyUK01:52:5401:30:3103:23:25
2Angie MoudenFrance01:54:0701:31:2003:25:27
3Sofia Semedo CoelhoPortugal01:57:4901:37:1903:35:08

1Antoni Roig/ Jordi CostaSpain01:39:3101:17:4502:57:16

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