The vision of Periandros, tyrant of Corinth (602 B.C.), who had the original idea for the canal which would secure the vessel traffic, for sure it did not include the sight of Stand Up Paddlers flooding the canal.
The 530 SUPers of the 9th Corinth Canal Crossing felt the awe of how small they are in front of the idea yet the size of the canal, when they stood between its 80m massive walls. There the memory of people digging by hand this extraordinary project linked the history with the present and everyone admired the view with a new perspective.
Who had thought that this event, when it started back in 2011 with only 22 participants, would have been one of the biggest international events in Greece and second bigger in Europe.
Participants from Kavala, Thaso, Crete, Andros, Preveza, Kalamata, Mesologgi, Parga, Volos, Patra, Athens and other cities all over Greece and also many countries like U.K., Austria, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Romania, Albania, Malta, Sweden came to paddle the Canal’s 6.343 meters in a straight line. That is why this race has named “The world’s straightest SUP race”.
Sunday morning and organizers are still discussing with the Control Tower, about the flow of the current inside the canal. The Starting point has not yet decided, causing a “big headache” to the committee.
Everything is depending by the current flow inside the canal. But the last three days it was flowing stable from one direction (Isthmia to Posidonia) something unusual for the time. That was the big mystery that organizers had to solve, as no one knew the time of the next change of current. The thought of change during the race was something that would create big problems to amateurs or younger paddlers.
At the same time, hundreds participants were finishing their registration under the hot autumn sun, inside the beautiful garden of Canal Administration building, with the Saronic gulf on the background.
A lot of meetings and discussions analyzing possibilities about the problems were the main issues for organizers the last two days. Despite the forecast from Control Tower, the final decision was taken and Isthmia was set as the starting point, giving an end to the waiting.
Right after the SUPers meeting, giving the necessary information about the start, the route and the finish, paddlers were ready to enter, warm up and take place between the two buoys marking the starting line.
“Everything seemed simple, until I saw the number of paddlers” PRO George Kontarinis said. “I was watching people entering the water from the beach nearby, but when I took my place in front for the start, I was scared by the number of 530 participants, wondering- oh my God how many??”
In the back most of them were sitting on their board chatting, taking pictures, laughing and waiting for the horn to blow. The front row, in contrast, was quiet, with faces and eyes focused in front and hands holding the paddles tight. Every athlete in front was craving for the podium in the biggest race in Greece and second bigger in Europe.
After the final adjustments in alignment, the President of Canal’s Administration mr Pantelides, blew the horn for the start.
Ther are no words that can describe the moment. The big number of paddlers seemed like a “blue tsunami” running towards the canal’s entrance. Only from a drone could anyone get the whole picture!
It was UNIQUE.
At the begging, Nikos Syrigos, winner of the race in 2017, with a powerful sprint on his Naish Javelin, managed to lead the race early, followed by Phaedon Doukas, Alexandro Prapa and Niko Krikeli. Near the 1Km mark Syrigos with a second sprint left the rest in a safe distance that kept until the finish line. Second finished Nikos Krikelis (JP) after a battle in the last meters of the race with A. Prapas (Infinity) and fourth finished P. Doukas (NSP).
In Women, the winner of the last three consecutive races of Corinth Crossing, Konstantina Kontarini (Naish) with a strategic move on Linda Schwaiger (Starboard) managed to take the right moment the lead and finally the first place (again). Dori Bathori (Naish) and Dimitra Tsoni (NSP) were the next two finishers.
The most beautiful moments were the smiling faces of everyone finishing this unique race. The satisfaction for completing the 6.343 meters was “scared” on them. Applauses from the crowd especially on kids finishing, gave the spirit and the attitude that this event is very different, embracing the values of sportsmanship, history, culture and joy.
After the finish in Posidonia, buses were waiting for paddlers to take them back at Isthmia for lunch. The buffet was excellent and Pizza Fan contributed to the lunch with tasty flavors.
During the lunch, at the other side, inside the Control Tower, organizing committee was working for the results of the 9th Corinth Canal Crossing. Trying to get them as soon as possible having no mistakes was a hard task. The number of 530 participations seems extraordinary, but causes a lot of problems when someone tries to manage and double check board categories, age categories and lycra numbers without any mistake. Mr Nikolaides, head officer for the results, having the experience needed for the situation, managed and had the results ready 30 minutes earlier than it was scheduled.
The award ceremony was about to start.
The three top finishers in each category was awarded in front of the cheering crowd, by the official guests that honored the event. Mayor of Corinth mr Gionis, Police Commissioner mr Bravos, Coast Guard Commissioner mr. Polyzoides and representors from Corinth Canal Administration mr Pantelides and mrs Sakisli,were some of them, showing that the authorities are supporting great events that promote the region of Corinth.
Awards were given also to the Youngest (7 y.o) and Oldest (79 y.o) participants.
A big shout out to our sponsors:
Without their help this race would not be the same.
Our supporters: Red Paddle Greece, Pizza FAN, Kalamaki Beach Resort, Marinis Alternative Items, Forward and Athens Watersports Club.
Organizers would like to thank everyone that participated, following the instructions given and cooperating perfectly with the committee. Having their best attitude gave this event the most fabulous image ever. THANK YOU!
Congratulations to everyone for helping us to complete successfully a race like that.
The words written above cannot describe the reality. They will be inferior of all these things that had been seen and lived by those who were there and paddled inside the historic canal on Sunday, September 22nd 2019.
It deserves to get bigger. So spread it out with words, photos, actions.
Winners of “9th Corinth Canal SUP Crossing:
14’0″ Men: 1st Nikos Sirigos | 2nd Nikos Krikelis | 3rd Alex Prapas
14’0″ Master Men: 1st Gannis Tountas | 2nd Giannis Avramidis | 3rd Giannis Topsachalidis
14’0″ Women: 1st Konstantina Kontarini | 2nd Dori Bathori | 3rd Dimitra Tsoni
14’0″ Master Men: 1st Linda Schwaiger | 2nd Katia Vlisidi | 3rd Christina Bisdra
14’0″ Young Men: 1st Dimitris Nikolaidis | 2nd Dimitris Doukas | 3rd Petros Kontarinis
12’6″ Men: 1st Dimitris Soukoulis | 2nd Marinos Pylarinos | 3rd Spiros Tzilios
12’6″ Master Men: 1st Fanis Polychronopoulos | 2nd Stavros Parastratidis | 3rd Grigoris Vomvas
12’6″ Women: 1st Giota Tsianeli | 2nd Evanthia Bellou | 3rd Kyveli Abela
12’6″ Master Men: 1st Peny Tsaoutou | 2nd Anette Schneider | 3rd Efi Bobota
12’6″ Young Men: 1st Nikos Malekakis | 2nd Sylvestros Vasileiou | 3rd Spyros Gatos
12’6″ Νεανίδων: 1st Elina Nikolaidi | 2nd Georgia Vasiliou | 3rd Melita Gazika
SURF Men: 1st Argiris Klotsonis | 2nd Nikos Apostolakis | 3rd Charis Sardis
SURF Master Men: 1ος Cudd Steve | 2ος Giannos Zografos | 3ος Stefanos Ganos
FUN Women: 1st Inga Konti | 2nd Christina Pagoulaki | 3nd Eleni Vai
FUN Master Women: 1st Viky Koloka | 2nd Maria Papaleksi | 3rd Karen Gliki
12’6″ Boys: 1st Andreas Voulgaris | 2nd Nikos Farsaris | 3rd Moritz Schleicher
12’6″ Girls: 1st Emma Schleicher | 2nd Klio Prasinaki | 3rd Zabela Maroulaki
Team: 1st Rennie/Swinsco | 2nd Kalatzaki/Tzanakis/Malekakis/Malekaki/Fytraki | 3rd Gerokostas/Gioliler/Elenis/Monastirioti/Mamai
Older Athlete: Papadopoulos Spyros & Younger Athlete: Kontovasilis filipos
Under the Aegis of:
Photos: Ilias Mertis, Angelos Labropoulos, Konstantinos Konstantinou, Maria-Christina Grammenou