EuroChallenge 2013 - Revamped, raring to go

Sunday, 14 April 2013 13:22 | Written by 
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"Weather" off Vilajoyosa!  Not that you'd want to paddle with these! "Weather" off Vilajoyosa! Not that you'd want to paddle with these!

EuroChallenge was the first major international surfski race to be held in Europe.  This year the organizers are pulling out all the stops to make it a proper downwind event. 

Race Venue and dates

As usual the race venue is the Club Nautico in the beautiful medieval town of Villajoyosa, Spain.

Registration will be on 3 May, 2013, with the race on 4 OR 5 May, depending on the weather.

Race founder Jonathan Neill announced major changes to the race this year: “This year, for the first time, the race committee dominate the club directorship!” he said, “and that gives us the ability to ensure, weather permitting, that the race really will be a downwind.

“This time of year is normally windy – we’ve just had bad luck for three years in a row – rather like Molokai!” he added.

“A couple of the events have seen windy conditions either the day before or the day after the race,” he said.  “But always before we were constrained by the club committee to racing on one planned day.  With a flexible waiting period, like we have now, we’d have had a different race.”

Prize Pool

The prize money is good – as usual…  The pool is not final yet, but the minimums (according to the website) are:


  1. €3,500
  2. €2,000
  3. €1,000


  1. €1,000
  2. €500
  3. €250

There are a couple of hotspots too, sponsored by Think (€500) and Fenn.

For more information, go to the event website at

EuroChallenge 2012

EuroChallenge 2012 - Simon van Gysen won a great race



Interview with Jonathan Neill, who started the EuroChallenge race and who more or less started the surfski boom in Spain.

Tell us about the history of EuroChallenge - who started it, when and why?

Eurochallenge started in 2009, this is the 5th edition of the was the first international race in Europe, and has had most of the top paddlers participate over the years... 

A small group of us were in the bar having a beer after a paddle and weren’t happy that we had no international surfski races in Europe… so we set out to change the situation.

We invited Dawid to participate in the Spanish champs in 2008 to get a feel and he was stoked by the idea of the Euro Challenge.

It really helped lead European paddlers towards the sport of surfski – and we haven’t looked back.  Surfski is booming all over Europe.

Dawid and Nikki Mocke

Dawid and Nikki Mocke have a long association with the race.  In 2010, it was a double victory as they each won their respective races.

I believe the organisation of the race has changed this year - what's different?

The race organization is the same but what has changed is the club leadership; the race committee now fill most of the places on the club directorship so we now have much more freedom and we know we will not be let down or asked to change things for the sake of politics. It is now a downwind race and we will follow through to make it that.

EuroChallenge has gained a bit of a reputation as being flat race - rumour has it that things will be different this year?

So this year we have the race allocated over 2 days - anytime and any direction - the two prevalent winds blow either up or down the coast (i.e. not on or offshore).

The race will be 22-25 km up or down the coast( no loops etc.)

Do you think surfski paddling has reached a "tipping point" in Europe?  It seems to be growing massively as a sport in Europe?

Surfski paddling has grown tremendously in Europe over the last five years and we’re seeing more and more crossover from other paddling fraternities such as k1, marathon, adventure races and kayakers.  As for “tipping point”, surfski paddling here has such a huge possibility for growth; I believe we have to keep promoting the sport, with races, clinics, events, as a whole community (the paddlers, manufacturers and event organizers).

It should be like surfing, everybody wants to do it.

Possibly in places like SA and Australia the tipping point is much closer. But I do suppose it is growing much faster here than, say, in Australia because there is such a huge population pool.

What effect do you think the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships will have on the image of the sport in Europe and around the world?

The ICF world cup is fantastic for the sport worldwide and this year especially for Europe.  

Not taking anything away from what went before of course - there have been world cups in Hawaii, SA and Australia over the years, organized by the surfski community, but it will be good to see the ICF being part of all these initiatives, using its size and influence to help get a sponsorship for the whole series and getting involved with the media opportunities.

The ICF is at the start  of its relationship with surfski, lets see what they can do over say the next five years for the sport as a whole.  Go get us in the lime light at the ICF. More money for the races, professional chances for the guys who want to make a go of it and help with the grass roots nitty gritty of surfski.

The surfski community has built a fantastic foundation for the sport, in both racing and grass roots.

What are the three things that should attract a paddler to come to Vilajoyosa in 2013?

  1. Eurochallenge this year will be a downwind, and is being organized by everybody as a downwind and for top paddlers we will have a good prize purse.
  2. The hospitality is fantastic for all paddlers... good food, good weather, the chance to do a clinic with Sean Rice, (beginner or advanced), and there’s the chance to hang out with paddlers from all around the world.
  3. It’s central, close, inexpensive and easy to get to the race for so many people.

EuroChallenge 2013

The medieval town of Vilajoyosa is worth a visit in itself...  See if you can find the Vilar chocolate shop!

We really are looking forward to the race, seeing old faces (Nikki and Dawid Mocke are coming as well as Sean Rice), new faces; getting on a ski; racing some, paddling some; having a good downwind; drinking some beer; talking about paddling; learning something new.

See you at the race!

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