ISA Distance Gold Medals Starts on a Wobble, Ends with a Bang!

Blown wide open: Vinnicius Martins on Top for Gold in Men's ISA Distance Race. Photo by ISA / Sean Evans
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The ISA SUP & World Championships taking place this week at El Sunzal, El Salvador has already seen some great action. 

In what began as a big-time snafu with 15 top SUP racers missing a critical buoy on the distance course, subjecting them to an extra lap to correct the mistake, ended with a fiery showdown for Gold Medal winners, Brazilian Vinnicius Martins and Spain’s Esperanza Barreras.

Vinnicius martins wins gold medal ISA SUP World championships
Brazilian Storm: Martins captures the Gold and his country’s flag to run through the finish at the ISA Distance course in El Sunzal. Photo: ISA /Sean Evans

Women’s Distance Race Held Controversy Over Missed Buoy

In the women’s distance race, an 18KM course in the blazing heat of El Sunzal, some confusion on the course resulted in multiple competitors missing a marker buoy resulting in an incomplete course.

Spain’s Esperanza Barreras was out in front after that first lap of the three-lap course. However, Barreras made a fundamental error on the second lap and bypassed a marker buoy. Athletes to follow, following Barreras’ lead, imitated the error and over half of the field, both SUP and Paddleboard racers, were either disqualified or forced to do another lap to make up for the missed marker.  Some other racers stayed true to the course and diverged from the pack on the incorrect path.  It was mayhem with no communication to guide the misled field home.

The excitement is REAL as Esperanza Barreras captures the Gold Medal for her country. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The result was an incomplete second lap for those who missed the buoy, requiring an additional six kilometer lap to replace their incomplete lap, in order to complete a total of three full laps.

Impenetrable Force:  Barreras Stays Steady to Win ISA Gold

Barreras kept her composure and continued through her an additional fourth lap, where she showed impenetrable force and endurance to overcome racers who had stayed true to the course.

I still can’t believe it,” said Barreras. “Everyone paddled so hard in these tough conditions.

I realized that we had all taken the wrong route on the third lap and I knew that the only option was to do another lap. I tried to maintain a lead from the rest knowing that they had made the same mistake as me.

“It’s part of the game, having a solid mindset and physical condition to be prepared.”

Following Barrera with the Silver Medal was France’s Amandine Chazot and Japan’s Rika Okuaki, both whom also completed four laps.

Holding out for the Copper Medal was Mexico’s Mariana Carrasco Zanini. Zanini was one of the few racers who not follow the pack on the incorrect course. She correctly completed her three laps to be placed on the podium.

Women’s prone racers were pulled from course at 3-hour time limit to determine medal standings. Tyra Buncombe completed most the distance course for Gold. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Women’s Prone Racers Complete 4th Lap for ISA Distance Wins

The Women’s prone Paddleboard racers experienced the same mistakes as the SUP. Many racers were forced to go around the course for a fourth lap. South Africa’s Tyra Buncombe was the furthest along in the course upon reaching the three hour limit and was awarded the Gold Medal.

France’s Camile Rosa Perotteau earned the Silver and Argentina’s Daniela Spais the Bronze.  These medals were given accordingly to how far they had advanced at the cut off of the three hour time limit.

The rest of the field disqualified. No athlete was left to claim the Copper Medal position.

Esperanza Barreras ISA World SUP championship
Esperanza Barreras holds her composure for 4 complete laps to grab the Gold Medal for Spain. Photo by: ISA / Sean Evans

SUP Distance Race for Men Holds No Mistakes; Only Excitement

The Men’s SUP and Paddleboard Distance Races completed a meteoric day of competition.

In the Men’s SUP distance course, Brazil’s Vinnicius Martins jack rabbited out in front for a quick lead that he developed with world-class technique throughout the course. Martins showed himself in full form and grappling for Gold after winning an ISA Distance Bronze in 2018 and a Pan American Games Silver Medal at Lima 2019. Martins continues to climb the ranks in the international world of stand up paddling as he takes his first ISA Gold.

“It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to win a World Championship,” says Martins. “To have such a hard course to earn this Gold makes it even more special.

Peru’s Itzel Delgado is a show of super human strength, holds off Titouan Puyo to grab the Silver Medal in the Men’s Distance course. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

In a showcase of strength and tenacity, Peru’s Itzel Delgado, found himself, stroke for stroke, in a battle with France’s mighty Titouan Puyo throughout the course vying for Silver Medal position. Exemplifying a commitment to both training and fitness, Delgado pulled away from Puyo to capture the Silver in a great moment of triumph for the fiery Peruvian racer.  Puyo completed the course with a Distance Bronze.

Claudio Nika, who earned a historic first-ever Gold Medal for Team Italy in the SUP Sprints on Sunday, rounded out the Distance podium with a Copper Medal.

Blown wide open: Vinnicius Martins on Top for Gold in Men’s ISA Distance Race. Photo by ISA / Sean Evans

Men’s Prone Paddleboard Distance:  Pflueger on Fire

In the Men’s prone Paddleboard Distance race, USA’s Pflueger was unstoppable, relentless and out in front to finish with a minute-and-a-half lead over his competition to repeat his reign as World Champion.

Spain’s David Buil earned the Silver, England’s Sam Norton the Bronze, and France’s Julen Marticorena the Copper.

“I am blown away to win Gold for USA,” said Pflueger. “We are here to take that overall Gold and I hope I can continue to contribute to that effort.”

The 2019 Surf City El Salvador ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship can be viewed live on Standup Journal’s Facebook Page:  Nov 24 – Dec 1st.  Stay tuned!


The remaining schedule for the competition is as follows, subject to changes.

November 26
Technical Race Preliminary Rounds
Team Relay

November 27
Technical Race Finals

November 28 – December 1
SUP Surfing

December 1
Closing Ceremony

SUP Distance Results:
Gold – Esperanza Barreras (ESP)
Silver – Amandine Chazot (FRA)
Bronze – Rika Okuaki (JPN)
Copper – Mariana Carrasco Zanini (MEX)

Gold – Vinnicius Martins (BRA)
Silver – Itzel Delgado (PER)
Bronze – Titouan Puyo (FRA)
Copper – Claudio Nika (ITA)

Paddleboard Distance Results:
Gold – Tyra Buncombe (RSA)
Silver – Camile Rosa Perotteau (FRA)
Bronze – Daniela Spais (ARG)

Only three medals awarded, rest of field disqualified or did not finish.

Gold – Hunter Pflueger (USA)
Silver – David Buil Sanz (ESP)
Bronze – Sam Norton (ENG)
Copper – Julen Marticorena (FRA)

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.