The standup paddling industry, environmental groups and entertainment world came together last week for a stellar event in Noli, Italy: The Green Surf Festival.
The Green Surf Festival: Not just a race anymore
What started as a standup paddle race last year, the beautiful and iconic Noli Sup Race, has developed into a global meeting of surfers, paddlers and environmentalists from all over the world. What happened in Italy last week was nothing short of spectacular.
Green Surf Festival: paddling, advocacy & ocean conservationism
Within the context of great sportsmanship, similar interests and meaningful conversation, the Green Surf Festival in Noli, Italy brought together a host of diverse individuals from different backgrounds from all over the globe. For the first time, environmental activism became an integral part of a standup paddle racing event.
In the water, the main event was the sup race while the groms indulged in a Surfskate contest and the surfers hit the water for tow-out Surf Winch. Still others had the opportunity to play and practice Sup Yoga and Sup Pilates as a part of the event.
Green Talks led by Industry Leaders
But, the main attraction – the true highlight of the event – were the Green Talks held on land. These talks, led by top researchers, industry leaders, young entrepreneurs seeking a new way to practice business and innovators of all kinds, brought together this diverse community to talk in depth about ocean conservationism and sustainability within the standup paddling industry.
Chris Bertish, Svein Rasmussen, Michael Stewart head environmental discussions on changes within the sup industry
A very special guest to the event was cross-Atlantic standup paddler Chris Bertish, who recently completed the 4050 mile paddle from the coast of Africa to Antigua by himself in a standup paddle craft of his own making. Chris came directly from South Africa to Noli to tell his story of his adventure to an enraptured audience. He also received a special citizenship from Noli’s municipality for his extraordinary endeavor.
Among the acclaimed presenters was Starboard CEO and Chief Innovator, Svein Rasmussen. Rasmussen unveiled to the group Starboard’s new initiative, Project Blue. This project is aimed at drastically reducing Starboard’s carbon footprint and revolutionizing the way standup paddle boards are made by introducing plant-based, recycled and non-toxic materials throughout the entire Starboard range. That’s quite an achievement!
Other presenters, revealed their efforts at developing a more sustainable way of living and surfing including Michael Stewart from Sustainable Surf who introduced their Deep Blue Life concept. The 5 Gyres were also present and demonstrated their work on ocean plastics. Alan Laubach from Lykke was also there who showed the gathering their project for tree-based currency and trading as a way of creating a carbon offset incentive for real world economy.
While the talks dominated everyone’s thought processes throughout the event, there was also engagement on the water with the Noli standup paddle race. The Green Surf Festival developed from the Noli Sup Race which attracted international attention in 2016.
Noli, Italy’s International Standup Paddle Race
This year, again, the Noli Sup Race did not disappoint. With its dramatic backdrop of Italy’s beautiful cliffs and bays to its challenging downwinder conditions, the Noli Sup Race raised the bar for an Elite standup paddle race in Europe. Many international paddlers joined the Italian racing community for an exciting competition which included Tramontana winds.
Leonard Nika/Angela Fernandez take Top Honors
Italian racing star, Leonard Nika of Starboard, took 1st place in the men’s Elite for the second year running. He was followed by Paolo Marconi of RRD, who had a great downwind leg but lost ground on the upwind section, and the dark horse, Felippe Meira – also of RRD – from Portugal.
For the women, a strong Portuguese athlete, Angela Fernandez of Starboard took top honors, followed by Chiara Nordio of Riviera in 2nd and Liana Lakafosi of Starboard from Greece.
Written by: Franz Orsi