NON-Stop SUP 11-City Tour 2021 – The story
The first start of the 8th annual NON-Stop SUP 11-City tour took place at 8 am in Leeuwarden.
A grey sky and a few knots of wind from the north accompanied the paddlers while Joy Lynn Alegarbes touched everyone with the Hawaiian ‘Oli Mahalo’ chant.
With the different speed of the paddlers, the start was stacked with 2 hours difference; having the last paddlers leave at noon.
15 Paddlers: 9 men 1 woman and 2 teams, formed the non-stop fleet; representing Friesland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, France & Sweden.
Due to Corona we had 15 cancellations, but in the non-stop the ultra-endurance journey is the focus rather than the number of paddlers.
The northerly tail wind made ways for a fast start and smooth arrival in Sloten; also, the turnaround point back into the lakes towards Stavoren. But, heading back over the Slotermeer and the lakes following, side winds created choppy waters and teased the athletes to balance some more. Not everyone kept it dry…
The weather this weekend was better than the entire Dutch Summer, so half of the Frisian population headed out with their recreational boats during the 21-degree sunny day joining our fleet of Suppers (or the other way around?)
After the solid stretch to Stavoren, the north wind became grim; turning into a tough head wind towards Workum. Smiles faded and the ultra-endurance journey took over while temperatures dropped swiftly below 10 degrees after the sun set. The zig-zag route towards Harlingen offered a new sort of scenery while windmills seem like giants in the black night. The dropping wind was a blessing especially on a long straight stretch over the “Van Harinxmakanaal” to Franeker.
The night was BEAUTIFUL! The clear sky and a new moon made it extra dark and the stars extra bright. Infamous Suptember, the start of fall, also created that special non-stop effect for the athletes paddling through spiderwebs, mosquitos and thick mist that would last past sunrise.
The dark hours challenge athletes and crew as ‘sleeping is cheating’, but when it is tough, the Magic happens. Random supporters would show up and keep the athletes going. Warm Fresh baked Apple pie would show up before midnight with fresh coffee (Thank you Rommie!) Joy Lynn danced Hula ‘Ka Pilina’ (birds at night) in the pitch black lit up by lights. Pin locations ‘where to be next’ kept the crew excited and connected. And the stories go on and on.
Fast times where the theme this year and compared to last year, sunrise was closer to Dokkum than the year before’. Welcoming Sunday during sunrise, was celebrated with the Hawaiian chant “E Ala E” as currents were helping the paddlers into Dokkum. The increasing north east wind midmorning was helpful blowing everyone back into the current to Burdaard and the famous bridge in Batlehiem. The last legs to Aldsjerk were heavy. Leeuwarden did finally come into view after “The famous Elevencity tile bridge” and with a bit of luck, the volunteers came and got you with smiles and music. A party in its own.
The Legends GPS Tracking was legendary indeed helping the organization, support crews and online fans back home to see who is where. It made all the difference.
When you start in Leeuwarden, it is the goal to finish in Leeuwarden.
Niek van den Linde, doing the non-stop for the 5th (and last time so he said) did that in Style! He did not only cross the finish line being first, he also set the non-stop SUP 11-City Tour record in 23 hours, 32 minutes and 16 seconds. Simultaneously he reached his goal paddling an impressive new world record for the 24-hour distant that resulted in 204.27 kilometers. The gain in this amazing achievement did not mean that there was no pain. “Paddling a distant like this, you don’t do alone” Niek mentioned at the price giving. “It helps a lot when you have a great team (his dad Theo, finance Linda & sponsor Herman van den Berg) and supporters showing up for you during the day and night”
Goran Gustavsson (Sweden) finished “complety empty and emotional” as he mentioned in 29 hours, 24 minutes and 45 seconds and broke his record from 2 years ago by almost 3 hours.
Marek Splichal (Czech Republic) came in 3rd with a time of 31 hours 37 minutes and 15 seconds.
Our one and only girl in the fleet Margriet Koeman (Netherlands) finished with an impressive time of 33 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds. “Due to work, I did not have time to paddle 5 days, so I gave the non-stop a go”.
The team of 5 paddlers “Non-Stop for Kids”(Germany), as well fundraiser for kids with special needs, came in first with a time of 28 hours, 24 minutes and 45 seconds.
The local Frisian team of 4 paddlers “Golden Girls” finished in 29 hours, 5 minutes and 3 seconds.
Unfortunately, Mattias Vagt (Germany) & Michael Van Craen (Belgium) stopped before Hindeloopen. Tjietse Feenstra (Netherlands) accomplished 145 km before he stopped. Vincent Claeskens (Belgium) was troubled by his diabetes and had to hand in the towel in Batlehiem.
When things come to an end, it feels a bit sad, but the 5 day SUP 11-City Tour will continue on Wednesday in a few days.
Rest me to give a huge shout out to the organization, all volunteers, sponsors, masseuses and everyone who added their mana (Energy) to this amazing and memorable non-stop edition.
|1.||Niek Van Der Linde||23:32:16.3|
|1.||Non Stop For Kids||28:24:44.5|