Having produced one of the standout seasons on this year’s ocean racing circuit, Walter Bouzan is – understandably – feeling proud.

Not just of himself, after winning the European Championships, Spanish Championships, and Irish Coast Paddling Championships in his last three starts.

But also proud of the direction European surfski paddling is headed.

“I know there’s still a long way to go to reach the level of the Australian and South African paddlers, but step-by-step the level in Europe is rising,” he says.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to win here.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

While that may be the case, Bouzan again stood tall in Dublin.

The Spaniard claimed the 2,000 Euro winner’s cheque in a time of 1:14:57, finishing 20 seconds clear of South African Andy Birkett in second, and 47 seconds ahead of German Nordin Sparmann in third.

“I feel very happy,” Bouzan says. “It was my first time in Ireland and I will be back for sure.

“[The course] was a 17 kilometre round-trip with strong currents and not a lot of surfing in the first half, before some small waves to be surfed later.

“We were in a group of four paddlers made up of Andy Birkett, the young German Nordin Sparmann, French champion Benoit Le Roux and myself.

“Just before the turn I was able to gain a few seconds and then hold onto that through to the finish, which became very hard because there was a headwind.”


Bouzan has been at the forefront of international racing for decades, but the Spanish veteran’s impressive 2021 season feels like somewhat of a resurgence.

Now aged 43, he says he hasn’t made any drastic changes to his training regime.

Instead, his approach was far simpler.

“This year I practiced more in my surfski and it shows.”

“We have a very good training group and I have a great time with them.

Walter Bouzan (left) and Andy Birkett (right) at the presentation of the 2021 Irish Coast Paddling Championships.

Michelle Burn rounded out her own golden year with victory in the women’s division.

The newly-crowned ICF World Champion crossed the line in a time of 1:25:15. That was more than a minute ahead of Nicole Birkett in second, who managed to hold off Spaniard Chloe Bunnett by just three seconds.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

The trio had a close dice in the early parts of the race, trading runs in the tough conditions, before Burn pushed ahead.

Burn (middle), Russell (closest) and Bunnett (furthest) battled it at out the front of the field. PHOTOGRAPH: © Tommy Dickson / Irish Coast Paddling Championships.

It seals an incredible return to international racing for Burn, who fulfilled her long-held dream to become the ICF World Champion with victory in the Canary Islands back in July.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler