SUP Races in Portugal 2015

Inflatable sup race board
Inflatable sup race board in Portugal


SUPRacer .com is the standard for SUP racing news, but I haven’t seen much on there about Portugal. If you have, please let me know in the comments. I thought I’d let you know what’s happening this year.

2015 SUP Races in Portugal

There will be seven sup races this year in Portugal and the first one kicks off in May.

May 9 and 10 
1st Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Sprint & RT, Figueira da Foz
Organized by: FPS / ABFM

June 13 and 14
2nd Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Marathon & RT, Peniche
Organized by: FPS / PPSC

July 11 and 12
3rd Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Sprint & Marathon, Óbidos
Organized by: FPS / ASSUP

July 18 and 19
4th Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Sprint & Maratona, Moledo
Organized by: FPS / Lalo & Wind

August 23
5th Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, RT, Nazaré
Organized by: FPS / CDAN

October 5th
6th Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Maratona, Matosinhos
Organized by: FPS / Titan SUP

October 24 and 25
7th Stage of the National SUP Race Circuit 2015, Sprint & RT, Albufeira
Organized by: FPS / Albufeira SC

Map of 2015 SUP Races in Portugal

Here is a map of all the places where the races will take place. Are you going to watch or compete?

The February #microadventure : Ria Formosa

Sundown from a stand up paddle board – Rio Formosa, Algarve, Portugal
Sundown by stand up paddle on the Ria Formosa, Portugal

The previous microadventure I did was just before January. Alastair Humphreys, the founder of the term “#microadventure” came up with an idea just after New Year. He called it a year of microadventure and urged all those interested to do one a month.

I was interested, so I thought I’d label my chilly foray into the “Barragem do Funcho” (one of the Algarve’s six major dams)  as my January #microadventure. One down, eleven to go and whatever to do next? Since AlgarveSUP holds a license to paddle in protected areas I thought I’d venture down into the Ria Formosa.

It’s essentially an idyllic wetland but like many wetlands around the world there are tons of issues. The Ria Formosa is making news at the moment as the government is evicting tenants of illegally constructed fishing shacks all the way through the 60km long coastal lagoon system. Reports say there are 800 dwellings being destroyed and the idea was to provide government housing for those who don’t have primary homes. It’s all kicking off up in Lisbon’s parliament with mild protests and lots of local political posturing. Difficult times for many!

I have actually paddled past the JCBs and huge yellow graders eradicating all signs of the local recent history. I’m not sure if its an entirely good thing, bad thing or whether it should just have been done differently.

Caution – strong currents

I contemplated these issues as I set out on a perfect February evening, stroking out across mirror-like waters towards my intended sleeping spot. I had to negotiate one of The Ria Formosa estuaries which occur in five or six places through out the Ria Formosa coastal lagoon system.

After negotiating the estuaries’ hectic currents sucking tons of water out for low tide, I paused briefly to look back at the Fuzeta life guard’s house. I have no idea if this is still in use, but it is certainly well preserved and a fascinating landmark.

Don’t you think?

portugal-sup-algarve (5)
Fuzeta lifeguard house.

Arriving at a prospective camp site

Pressing on, the wind died completely and the glassy surface of the lagoon reflected a clear night ahead. Let me rephrase, a clear CHILLY night. There is no snow and no ice, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cold!

portugal-sup-algarve (6)
Sunset on the Ria Formosa – a perfect place for the night.

There was no one around at all, until I looked up from opening a bottle of chilled white wine. The sun had descended into the ocean and all I could hear was the thunder of the surf pounding up the dark beach.

“What on earth was that?”

I peered into the darkening gloom and managed to make out three bobbing fluorescent pin pricks of light. UFO? Then I realized it was just a fisherman casting his line off the beach. I drank, ate, watched and wondered how he had arrived. I looked away a little later and he had disappeared as fast as he had arrived. Spooky.

I’m not sure how well you sleep when you camp but I just couldn’t fall asleep. Eventually I managed to  bore myself into a light slumber with Charles Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities”. It’s something I keep on my iPhone’s Kindle app for that precise purpose. Apologies to Charles Dickens!

Ria Formosa by night

It was a spectacular night with super-bright stars studded all over the heavens. Occasionally I would get up and walk over from the ocean side of the sand spit I had camped upon towards the lagoon. The sound of waves disappeared almost entirely and the lights of Fuzeta twinkled on the still surface. It was calm. Peaceful.

Have you ever camped with your stand up paddle board? I know Dave Cornthwaite has!

Press Release – The Guadiana Challenge

Top European athletes take on the Guadiana Challenge

Portugal is at the forefront of the fastest growing water-sport in the world with a brand new, high profile event designed to test the abilities and stamina of some of Europe’s finest athletes.

guadiana challenge

On 28th March 2015 a number of professional and amateur stand up paddle boarders will descend 32km of the Guadiana River in a gruelling challenge from Mertola and ending 6-8 hours later in Alcoutim.

For those who haven’t come across this rapidly growing sport before it’s the favourite of many a list celebrities including Portugal’s own Rita Perreira. because of its ability to give a full body workout. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a new peaceful and tranquil way to explore the waterways stand up paddle is a rapidly growing activity.

Stand up paddle boarding  (SUP) has been described as the closest thing to actually walking on water and consists of standing on a large surfboard while using a long paddle to move yourself forward. It needs balance and coordination but it’s much simpler, cheaper and quicker to learn than most other board sports and within 30 minutes most people go from beginner to getting a good session under their belt.

The greatest thing fans love about SUP is that you get your exercise without it ever being boring. Unlike a treadmill session at the gym you are playing in a beautiful aquatic environment, which is constantly changing and where you can see nature from a whole different perspective; it doesn’t ever feel like a chore.

Portugal is already the leading European venue for paddle boarding and has several  top professionals who are taking part in the Guadiana challenge in preparation for the world and European race series. This year there will be a total of six domestic races taking place in Portugal in venues including Porto, Peniche, and Lisbon.

The Guadiana challenge is the brainchild of Nick from Algarve SUP who teaches SUP and wanted to raise the profile of the sport and it’s benefits. “The Guadiana Challenge isn’t just a simple float downstream” said Nick “32km is a good distance for the average paddler and those people who are taking part will be facing some serious challenges on their journey”.


In March the odds are that the weather will be unsettled. Should the paddle boarders hit a headwind, their day will turn into a severe battle against the elements.


The effects of the tide are felt as high up as Mertola over 70km upstream from the river mouth and when it turns from low to high, the challengers have to fight a strong water current to just keep moving forward. Combine that with the effects of the wind and you’re facing some seriously challenging conditions.

Water levels

Who knows what the water levels on the river will be on that particular day. They could be raging high due to rainfall further upstream or if the water is low then the paddlers could be scraping rocks and carrying their boards over dry sections.

Never Give Up

One thing is for sure, this is not a challenge where you can easily give up if it gets difficult. The challenging route between Mertola and Alcoutim is very remote with only two small villages on the Spanish side, Pomarão and Puerto de la Laja. There is no easy way to get off the river or take a taxi back to the car. Sheer grit is the only thing that’ll get the paddlers to the finish line in  Alcoutim.

The Guadiana Challenge is not a race, it’s just a fun and challenging event amongst keen paddlers in Portugal and will be excellent preparation for the race season.

It will be an exciting adventure and only one outcome is certain: all the paddlers who get to the finishing line of the Guadiana Challenge will have to overcome some significant barriers to get there.

Algarve SUP is organizing the event with generous support from


Images from a previous paddle down the Guadiana River are available here:

We will issue a follow up press release after the event. Please feel free to contact Nick for any questions:

Algarve SUP on Social Media