Mo Freitas Claims Spectacular Come-from-behind Victory for His First-ever ISA Gold Medal

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Lachie Lansdown (AUS), Jordan Mercer (AUS), Annabel Anderson (NZL) all win their second Gold Medals in Denmark

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Hawaii’s Mo Freitas earned his first-ever ISA Gold Medal to become World Champion in the SUP Technical Race at the 2017 ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Vorupør, Denmark.

Mo Freitas lets out tears of emotion upon discovering that he was crowned World Champion and being carried by teammate and 2016 World SUP Surfing Champion Zane Schweitzer. Photo: Georgia Schofield

Mo Freitas lets out tears of emotion upon discovering that he was crowned World Champion, being carried by teammate and 2016 World SUP Surfing Champion Zane Schweitzer. Photo: Georgia Schofield

Freitas got off to a rough start in the race after falling rounding a buoy on the second lap, moving him out of the lead pack. With what seemed like an insurmountable gap between Freitas and the leaders, Freitas quickly caught back up to salvage his chance of winning Gold.

Freitas trailed his teammate Connor Baxter and Denmark’s Casper Steinfath on the final straight away to the beach and in a show of inspiring strength and endurance, he surpassed Steinfath to simultaneously cross the finish line with Baxter.

The finish was too close to call, and after moments of replay review it was determined that Freitas had beaten Baxter by two tenths of a second, with Baxter taking the Silver and Steinfath taking the Bronze.

“The emotion is just flowing right now,” said Freitas. “So many times I’ve finished in second or third and I’ve finally won.

“Connor Baxter is such a great paddler and today I am just overwhelmed with joy.

“I fell on a buoy turn, but it put me in a place to catch a bump that allowed me to catch back up to the leaders. There was still one more lap to go and I had a game plan the entire time. I wanted to stick in the back and it worked.”

Teammates Mo Freitas and Connor Baxter sprint to the finish with a World Champion Title on the line. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Teammates Mo Freitas and Connor Baxter sprint to the finish with a World Champion Title on the line. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Australia swept the Paddleboard Technical Races with Jordan Mercer and Lachie Lansdown repeating their Distance Race Gold Medal feats accomplished in Copenhagen earning Technical Race Gold in Vorupør on Denmark’s northwest coast.

Jordan Mercer, the most decorated ISA athlete of all-time, kicked off the series of four Technical Races Finals with another dominating Paddleboard performance, earning her tenth individual ISA Gold Medal.

“To be out there healthy and feeling fit is incredible,” said Mercer. “To be back racing and able to go as fast as I want to go is something that I really missed this past year with injures.

“Today I had the opportunity to defend my title, but more importantly to inspire my teammates. We are just over the halfway mark really and this is when the points start to count.”

With ten individual ISA Gold Medals, Australia’s Jordan Mercer is unstoppable. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

With ten individual ISA Gold Medals, Australia’s Jordan Mercer is unstoppable. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Lachie Lansdown followed Mercer’s Gold Medal with another Paddleboard Gold for Australia in the Men’s Division. Lansdown and New Zealand’s Sam Shergold seemed to be in another nail-biter, similar to their photo finish in the Paddleboard Distance Race in Copenhagen, however Lansdown was able to push ahead and build a lead, comfortably finishing with the Gold Medal.

“This is huge,” said Lansdown. “The Technical Race is the one Gold that I haven’t got yet. I finished second twice, so I am glad that I finally got the Gold.

“This is great for Team Australia as this will help out with the team points. I know that we are close to the lead now.”

Lachie Lansdown earns valuable points for Team Australia in their quest for Gold. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Lachie Lansdown earns valuable points for Team Australia in their quest for Gold. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

The Women’s SUP Technical Race was once again won by another Gold Medalist from the Copenhagen leg of the event. New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson, the Women’s SUP Distance Race Gold Medalist, continued her dominance in Women’s SUP and handily won the Technical Race, earning another Gold Medal for Team New Zealand.

“Thank you Team New Zealand and all those that made it possible for me to be here,” said Anderson. “I have the flag and won two Golds, but we are going to give it our all in the relay tomorrow and see if we can get that top spot to win Team Gold. That would cap off the ultimate week in Cold Hawaii.”

New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson continues her strong showing in Denmark for Team New Zealand with the Women’s SUP Technical Race Gold. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

New Zealand’s Annabel Anderson continues her strong showing in Denmark for Team New Zealand with the Women’s SUP Technical Race Gold. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

With just the Team Relay Race to decide the Team World Champion on Sunday, Team Australia surged into the lead ahead of Team France and Team New Zealand. Australia has their fate in their own hands, as a Gold in the Team Relay Race on Sunday would lead to their fifth Team Gold Medal in the event’s sixth year.

ISA President Fernando Aguerre, said:

“Today’s SUP Technical Races were nothing short of spectacular. The finish that we witnessed in the Men’s SUP Technical Race may go down in history as the greatest SUP race of all time.

“The world’s best SUP and Paddleboard racers pushed the limits of the sport to new levels today. This ISA World Championship allows the best SUP athletes to show the world their talents. The ISA continues to be the only international federation running SUP World Championships.

“The race in the team point standings is as close as ever and the team title is going to come down to tomorrow’s Team Relay. This will mark a historic moment for the sport as the first Gold Medalist in the event’s history will be crowned in Europe.”

The schedule for Saturday’s competition will be as follows:

  • Team Relay Race Semifinals at 10am CEST
  • Team Relay Race Final at 11:30am CEST

The schedule for the remainder of the event window will be as follows:

  • Vorupør
    • September 10 – Relay Race & Closing Ceremony

To view the week’s full event schedule, click here.

The event will be streaming live September 1-10 on www.isaworlds.com.

Results:

Women’s Paddleboard Technical Race
Gold – Jordan Mercer (AUS)
Silver – Jasmine Smith (NZL)
Bronze – Katrine Zinck (DEN)
Copper – Flora Manciet (FRA)

Men’s Paddleboard Technical
Gold – Lachie Lansdown (AUS)
Silver – Sam Shergold (NZL)
Bronze – Julien Lalanne (FRA)
Copper – Bart Schade (USA)

Women’s SUP Technical Race
Gold – Annabel Anderson (NZL)
Silver – Olivia Piana (FRA)
Bronze – Terrene Black (AUS)
Copper – Fiona Wylde (USA)

Men’s SUP Technical Race
Gold – Mo Freitas (HAW)
Silver – Connor Baxter (HAW)
Bronze – Casper Steinfath (DEN)
Copper – Bruno Hasulyo (HUN)

About The International Surfing Association:
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 103 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL). ƒ