Surf Canada’s Genna Flinkman reflects on World SUP and Paddleboard Championship
Photo: ISA/Ben Reed
VICTORIA, BC – The largest International Surfing Association (ISA) World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in history took place last month in Denmark, with Canada represented by 10 athletes, including team MVP Genna Flinkman. Flinkman earned the MVP nod after finishing with Canada’s highest point total at the conclusion of the 10-day event.
Flinkman and her husband call Edmonton home, meaning the closest competition is an 11-plus-hour trip west. She made up for the lack of local training opportunities by hitting the road (or the airport). Take a slightly closer look at the 30-year-old’s training and travel schedule leading up to the World Championship and it’s no surprise to see where she finished after the final day of competition.
“I drove to California twice and stayed there for two months to train last winter,” Flinkman recalled. “I went to Vancouver four times, and flew to France once. I really focused on doing as many big races and competing against as many big names as I could in preparation for the ISA Worlds. I have only been home for about 13 weeks this year due to travelling for races, training and work. My husband is the most understanding and supportive man ever, so he helped out a lot and had my back at every hiccup. Needless to say, this year was a little bit crazy.”
This year’s edition of the World Championship was a historic one and the first SUP and Paddleboard Championship to ever take place in Europe. The event kicked off on September 1-3 with the Distance and Sprint Races in Copenhagen, before switching locations on September 4 to the northwest coast and Vorupør, known as Cold Hawaii, for the Technical Races, SUP Surfing, and Relay Races.
Overall, the event featured it’s largest field of competitors ever. A total of 42 countries and more than 450 participants took to the water to compete.
“The environment around the event was pretty amazing,” Flinkman noted. “It was obvious that the ISA wanted to make this a big event. The setting around Copenhagen was impressive. It was a beautiful venue that catered to the spectator, allowing them to be immersed in the whole event. Vorupor was pretty rad too. With everything so close together, there was always something exciting to join in on or some event you could be watching out on the beach.”
Adding to the event’s excitement for Flinkman was the camaraderie between athletes.
“There were so many athletes, coaches, friends, and spectators to chat, cheer with, and share in on the excitement of the event,” Flinkman added. “Getting to meet the rest of Team Canada and share this experience with them made the whole experience that much better. The paddlers in Canada are spread out. It is rare for the paddlers from the East and West to compete with or against each other. I am stoked that this event brought us all together so I could get to know them and cheer them on.”
The Canadian found herself competing against the top athletes from across the globe on a daily basis throughout the event, offering up a unique opportunity to gauge herself against the world’s very best.
“Often the women’s competitive field is significantly smaller than the men’s,” Flinkman explained. “So to have the opportunity to race against so many talented women was exciting and I feel lucky to have shared the water with them. Having that many talented people to race against, I could tell that I learned and improved every single race.”
After all was said and done, the opportunity to represent her country was a dream come true for Flinkman, who had always wanted to represent the maple leaf at an international event.
“The opportunity to carry the Canadian flag around with so many of my friends, family, sponsors, and supporters signatures on it, knowing that no matter how I did they would be proud, was pretty surreal. To top it off I had amazing teammates. and the people back home really had our backs! Every night after competing I would come home to a flood of messages and encouragement. It was so heartwarming and really pushed me to give it my best.
“Overall, I would say that the ISA’s in Denmark will stand out as one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
About CSA Surf Canada
Surf Canada is the official National Sporting Federation (NGF) and sport partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA) who in turn is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) governing federation. As such, Surf Canada is solely responsible for selecting Surf, Stand-Up Paddle, and Prone Paddle athletes to compete at international events including the yearly ISA World Championships, PASA PanAm Surf Championships and every four years the PanAmerican Games and the Summer Olympics Games.