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India Paddle Festival Concludes with Spanish Dominance and Local Triumphs

Mangalore: The inaugural edition of India’s International Stand-Up Paddling event, the India Paddle Festival, concluded with a flourish as Fernando Perez from Spain clinched the Men’s Open Sprint Race (200 M) title, while Esperanza Barreras, also from Spain, emerged victorious in the Women’s Open Sprint Race (200 M) category. Additionally, local talents showcased their prowess, with Raju Pujar leading the charge in the Junior Sprint (200 M) category.

The three-day event, held at Sasihithlu beach, Mangalore, marked a significant milestone in India’s sporting landscape. Presented by the Karnataka Government and organized by the Surfing Swami Foundation, the festival received recognition from the Association of PaddleSurf Professionals World Tour (APP).

In the fiercely contested Men’s Open Sprint Race, Fernando Perez displayed exceptional skill, clocking an impressive timing of 2 minutes 37 seconds. Christian Andersen secured the second position, followed by Hungary’s Daniel Hasyulo in third place. Meanwhile, the Women’s category witnessed a spirited battle, with Esperanza Barreras claiming victory amid challenging wave conditions.

Expressing his delight, Fernando Perez remarked, “It feels wonderful to win here today. This is my first trip to India, and I’m pleasantly surprised by such favorable yet challenging conditions. Mangalore’s unique blend of infrastructure and natural beauty is truly remarkable.”

Esperanza Barreras, the Women’s Open Sprint Race champion, echoed similar sentiments, stating, “The conditions were challenging, but I am very happy to win in India, a country that I visit for the first time. The weather here is beautiful, and I loved my time over here.”

In the Junior Sprint Category, Raju Pujar led the local contingent to a clean sweep, securing the top position with a timing of 4 minutes 35 seconds. His cousins, Akash and Praveen Pujar, secured the second and third positions, respectively. All three have been undergoing training under the Surfing Swami Foundation, showcasing the impact of grassroots initiatives in nurturing talent.

Reflecting on his victory, Raju Pujar said, “It was an unexpected result, but I am very happy with the outcome. I have been training under the Surfing Swami Foundation, and I am grateful for the support that has helped me achieve this milestone.”

The India Paddle Festival also witnessed a unique community race, where recreational stand-up paddlers participated in a 3 KM race. Selvara San from Tamil Nadu emerged victorious, underscoring the growing interest in water sports across the country.

With the successful conclusion of the India Paddle Festival, the stage is set for further growth and development of stand-up paddling in India, with the APP World Tour marking its entry into the region. As Karnataka Tourism continues to support such initiatives, the future holds promise for aspiring paddlers to make their mark on the global stage.

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