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India Paddle Festival Kicks Off with Spectacular Opening Ceremony

Mangalore: The inaugural India Paddle Festival, India’s first-ever international stand-up paddling (SUP) championship, commenced with a vibrant opening ceremony at the picturesque Sasihithlu beach in Mangalore, Karnataka. The three-day event, from March 8 to March 10, 2024, has attracted over 40 top SUP athletes from more than 13 countries, showcasing their skills across three categories.

The opening ceremony, graced by UT Khader, Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, set the tone for the event’s exciting lineup. Local talents, Akash and Ravi Pujar, clinched the top two spots in the U16 Junior race, while South Korea’s Jihoo Hwang secured third place.

Day 2 of the India Paddle Festival promises fierce competition, with world-renowned athletes like Fernando Perez, Esperanza Barreras, and junior world SUP champion Bianca Toncelli gearing up for the challenges. The event, presented by the Karnataka Government and hosted by the Surfing Swami Foundation, aims to promote water sports and sustainable tourism in the region.

The opening day featured the U-16 Junior category race, with local talent Akash Pujar emerging victorious with an impressive time of 43:04 minutes. Raju Pujar secured the second position, and Jihoo Hwang from South Korea finished third.

Expressing his joy, Akash Pujar said, “I have dedicated the past six months to continuous training, while also managing the academic pressure of being in the 10th standard. Despite the challenges, I ensure I do not pause my training, and I guess that’s what paid off today.”

Day 2 will include yoga sessions, technical races for both men and women open categories, and an adventure film festival featuring documentaries like It Is This, In Search of the Storm, and Powerstar. Bollywood celebrities Suniel Shetty, Shilpa Shetty, and Pooja Hegde have joined as ambassadors for the festival, adding glamour to the thrilling event.

The India Paddle Festival, part of the Association of PaddleSurf Professionals World Tour (APP), marks a significant step in popularizing stand-up paddling in the country. With strong support from top athletes like KL Rahul and Chirag Shetty, the festival is poised to become a prominent fixture in the global SUP calendar.

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