Australia’s Michael Booth won back the world title he lost last year and Spain’s Esperanza Barreras brokethrough for her first ever ICF title in tough conditions at the Stand Up Paddling World Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on Friday.

Twice officials had to postpone the race start because of strong winds and rough ocean conditions, but when racing finally got underway in the long distance events it was 2019 ICF champion Booth who proved to be the master of the conditions.

Michael's Instagram Photos

The Australian emerged a clear leader from a messy start which proved challenging for many in the field, and opened up a lead by the two kilometre mark of the 16 kilometre race that could not be pegged back.

“It means a lot, I’ve had so many interviews and I just keep crying, I’m so happy,” Booth said.

“I felt so strong off the line, I’ve been sitting around waiting in my apartment all week to do this. It was hard after last year but amazing to bounce back.

“I thought this was like Perth on a winter’s day, so honestly it felt okay. I was like, I’ve done this a million times and I’m really prepared for this, so I was not that unhappy to be honest, and it played out the way I thought it would.”

Frenchmen Titouan Puyo was 50 seconds back in the silver medal position, while fellow-Frenchman Clement Colmas was more than three minutes back in third.

Spain’s Esperanza Barreras finished a close second in last year’s long-distance ICF SUP final, but went one better in Gdynia on Friday with a hard-fought win in conditions that forced half the field to retire before the end of the race.

After sitting second behind fellow Spaniard Duna Gordillo for the first half of the race, Barreras made her move on the third lap and never looked back.

“It was a super hard day, I’m really happy but it was not easy to take the win,” Barreras said.

“At the beginning I tried to conserve my energy because I knew it was going to be a really hard race, and then on the third lap I felt like I had extra energy.

“I like these sorts of conditions, I felt comfortable. During the last lap I was thinking about becoming a world champion for the first time, and know I join some athletes who have always been a reference for me.”

Eseperanza's Instagram Photos

Gordillo finished just over one minute behind in second, while France’s Melanie Lafenetre was more than four minutes back in third position.

In junior long distance races, Italy’s Cecilia Pampinella picked up her second medal in two days, taking gold ahead of Spanish duo Sonia Caimari and Alexia Soto, while France’s Vaic Garioud took the men’s title ahead of Spain’s Sergio Cantoral and Italy’s Nicolo Ricco.

The ICF 2022 SUP World Championships continue on Saturday with preliminary rounds of the technical races.

Pics by Georgia Schofield

Spain Esperanza Barreras SUP world championships Gdynia 2022

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