Today’s Long Distance race featured four separate races: men’s and women’s SUP racing plus men’s and women’s prone paddleboarding.
Despite strong challenges from the 22 other competing nations, the Australians made it a clean sweep, with Jamie Mitchell (SUP), Angela Jackson (SUP), Brad Gaul (prone) and Jordan Mercer (prone) all claiming gold. To cap it off, young gun Lincoln Dews took out the Silver in the prone race behind Gaul, giving Australia a huge lead in the points table.
The men’s SUP race featured one of the most exciting and dramatic finishes ever seen in the sport. After Jamie Mitchell and Kelly Margetts controlled the race for much of the 22km, it came down to a six-man sprint for the line in the final 200 metres. Extremely heavy fog made visibility limited on the beaches of Miraflores, Lima, as the leading men raced to the finish line.
In the final moments, Team Captain Mitchell looked set to cruise to victory after sneaking a wave ahead of his rivals, only to be forced into doing a barrel role holding onto his stand up paddleboard in order to avoid the rocks.
This left the door wide open for dark horse Casper Steinfath of Denmark and Fernando Stalla of Mexico. The two hit the beach just metres behind Mitchell, who still had a 50 metre sprint up the beach to the finish line. In the end, Mitchell crossed the line just one second ahead of Steinfath.
Margetts was unlucky not to take the silver medal, getting caught by a wave in the final 30 seconds after having helped set the pace at the front for the previous two hours and 30 minutes. The Gold Coaster was relegated to fifth, highlighting just how close the top finishers were.
Crossing the line, a visibly exhausted Mitchell fell to his knees, clearly having spent 100 per cent of his energy in order to claim back-to-back gold medals.
“That was a gruelling race... Kelly and I set a good pace for much of it but couldn't shake the other four guys,” said Mitchell. “It was anyone's race at the finish, but I found that one per cent and managed to hold on. Stoked for the team.”
Brad Gaul won Australia’s second gold medal minutes later when he took out the Men’s Prone Paddleboard Long Distance race ahead of team mate Lincoln Dews. The two had been neck and neck for the first two hours, but the defending Molokai-2-Oahu World Champion Gaul showed his strength on the third and final lap to seal the win.
It wasn’t long before the Aussies had their third gold, with Angela Jackson breaking free from her two closest rivals in the final few kilometres to seal the win. Jackson had to settle for the Silver Medal in this race 12 months ago, making today’s gold even sweeter.
To cap off the team’s dominance, young gun Jordan Mercer crossed the line to take gold medal in the Women’s Prone Paddleboard race. The Sunshine Coast star dominated the three hour race, which was an amazing achievement considering what she had to do just to make the start line. Mercer raced the IronWoman series in Noosa on Sunday, hopped on a plane on Monday, and arrived in Peru at 3am the morning of the race.
“I'm as happy as a clam," said Mercer, stoked with her win and clearly feeling no ill effects of the jet-lag, “That was 25kms in a cloud of smoke, just keeping my bearings was really tough. I’m so happy the team won four golds.”
TravelSIM Team Australia now takes a commanding lead on the overall team points table and will be very hard to catch during the rest of the event.
The 2013 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship runs through to Saturday, March 2nd in Miraflores, with medals still to be awarded in the SUP and Prone Paddleboard Technical Races, the men’s and women’s SUP Surfing and finally the Team Relay. With the form they showed today, the Aussies are looking very good to defend their Team World Champion Title.