LONDON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- London SUP (Stand Up Paddling) Open concluded here on Sunday with Clement Colmas of France and Spaniard Esperanza Barreras winning the men's and women's distance race respectively.
As the second leg of the 2022 APP (Association of Paddlesurf Professionals) World Tour, the London SUP Open welcomed 40 pro athletes and hundreds of amateurs from more than 20 countries and regions to take part in the two-day competition on the River Thames.
"It's definitely one of my favorite races of all the ones we do around the world," said APP World Tour CEO Tristan Boxford. "Largely because I grew up in London, down the river. I spent quite a lot of time on the river myself. It's nice to be back here."
"Such a beautiful race to have all the landmarks on the race, to have the dynamic of the strong current runs down so fast. It really provides an exciting race to the athletes."
World champion Connor Baxter from the United States led the 250m sprint race on Saturday and added a distance race bronze medal after paddling for 15km from Putney Bridge to Tower Bridge in 48 minutes and 58 seconds.
Baxter was only eight seconds behind Frenchman Arthur Arutkin, while Arutkin's compatriot Colmas finished first in 47:40.
"Thames was rough," said Baxter as the race went on in the morning with lots of boats still traveling on the river as usual. "There are some flat sections, and there is really rough water from all the boat wake and the other things going on."
Barreras, who was second in the women's sprint race on Saturday, edged American powerhouse April Zilg to clinch the title of the distance race in 53:45.
Unlike 28-year-old Baxter, who has been doing stand up paddling for nearly 16 years, Barreras only took up the sport in 2018, but the 38-year-old former sailing world champion believes her experience in sailing as well as surfing could be to her advantage.
"I have been doing water sports since a young age and competing a lot. It gave me extra when I need to read the conditions and the waves."
Boxford admitted that although stand up paddling has been developing fast and is quite popular nowadays, most people are doing it solely as a leisure activity.
"But the elite level is impressive," said the former professional windsurfer. "It requires a very all-around athlete, somebody who not only paddles fast but also has incredible boat skills. We keep the surfing elements always within the sport. So every race even some flat water one will need techniques."
Boxford believed that "the most magical thing about standing up paddling is its inclusiveness of it and the diversity of it".
"It's everything from a leisure paddle in a river to big waves in Hawaii and everything in between."
As for Baxter, since he started the sport, he has begun to dream that it could be an Olympic sport. "It has all the potential, it has all the right elements in it."
"We are standing up. We can move around on our boards. There's excitement involved, especially with these short sprint kind of courses. First goes, then the last goes to first. He makes the right move. You fall."
The third leg of the APP World Tour will be held in Busan, South Korea from September 23 to 25.