Zane Schweitzer Euro Race Recap
Coming into the last stop of the European Cup was exciting to say the least. It has already been a long trip in Europe competing in Barcelona and Finland, (and Austria too which wasn’t part of the World Tour) over the period of 5 weeks. The last stop came down to everything, with the overall European Cup rankings being so tight between the top 3, Casper Steinfath, Leonard Nika and I. The last stop of the European CUP concluded in the famous and historic city of Rome, Italy, at Santa Severa Beach. It is the most beautiful setting for an event and everyday there were thousands of people enjoying the Surf Expo.
This was my first visit to Rome, so I was already excited to experience a new place and culture. Italy has always been a special place to me with my previous visits to Sardinia and Lake Garda, but now visiting the heart of Italy was something special. I was ready for the good times, great food, and top competition at the final stop of the EU Cup. Italy is history rich and Rome is the heart of the country and certainly the most famous place to visit. What was cool about this event was that it was the biggest surfing culture event in Italy and possibly even in Europe; apart of the Italia Surf Expo.
After Finland’s stop #2 of the EU Cup I flew to The Basque Country to get a few days of training and rehabilitation at Lurta Nikolas’ awesome Barrika Surf Camp, which is my home away from home in Europe. Feeling refreshed, I arrived in Rome and got straight into the action with Starboard’s Dylan Frick of South Africa. We had the pleasure of being hosted by the Waterman League media crew to tour Rome and the area in order to get some fun clips for the event. Before we even got to explore Santa Severa we hit the tourist spots in Rome. We were traveling around in class in a 2016 Jeep courtesy of the event; since Jeep is one of the top sponsors and supporters of the event. Off course on the hour drive out of Santa Severa into Rome it was pouring rain.. Ironic since we were in the iconic topless Jeep, classic!! On the way to the beach we stopped at a big farmers market with popular fruits of Rome such as Peaches, watermelons and other succulent fruits, and off course they also had a huge selection of different cheeses.. We decided to initiate the 1st annual Watermelon League event in Rome with a 12 kilo (HUGE) watermelon we bought at the fruit stand, and competed for the fastest inhaling of the sweet fruit. The event consisted of Dylan Frick and I, and one giant watermelon…. I won the event after Dylan tapped out after 3 monster slices within 2 minutes.. YES!!
After the serious competition at the 1st annual Watermelon League contest, we continued on the road to Rome. All soaking wet just minutes into the drive on the highway in pouring rain, thunder and lightning. As we entered the city of Rome, the rain cleared, thank God, although it was still about 90 degrees (30 C) even with the rain.. I was surprised how unorganized and hectic the city of Rome was, it’s a SCARY place to drive.. I now understand the joke about “crazy Italian drivers” haha… We got to experience some of the most popular places in Rome such as the Coliseum, the Royal Palace and the Trojan Tower .. Hope those names are correct.. We rode lions in the fountains, rambled through the chaotic tourist filled city, got tickets from police and ate pizza and pasta in front of the Coliseum.. I’d say we saw it all for Rome, except taking the inside tour of the Vatican.
The event kicked off with registration day for all the athletes to receive jerseys and the schedule of events, as well as an epic kick off beach party.. When I say beach party I mean a whole other level of beach party when comparing to a Hawaiian Style beach party.. It was off the charts!!! The Italia Surf Expo Crew does it right and they know how to get the community involved with a badass event.. With a huge festival like event, epic DJs and amazing venue for a concert it was somewhat of a marathon already with the party running from afternoon till 8am, I had to bail out at 3am considering the very next day the event was on, but luckily not until 2pm.
The first day of competition was the 12km Distance race, and I’d say we scored epic conditions with nice wind and some good swells for the course where it was a pretty even amount of upwind and downwind. Casper Steinfath and Leonard Nika, being the proud top paddlers of Europe were definitely taking this last event very seriously. They both really wanted to take that European CUP title from me, and I wanted to defend my European CUP title. Casper, Leo and I took off from the get go and pulled away from the pack after the first lap, I was feeling great in the race but apparently not as good as Casper. I’ve never seen Casper do so exceptionally well in any SUWS event as he had at the European Cup last two stops. He finished in first in Finland and now at the Distance race in Rome too. He killed it. I pulled away from Leo on the start of the second lap and was at Casper’s heels throughout most the race.. He had me on the upwind sections, and I would catch him on the downwinders, but the gap was enough for him to take the win for the first day of competition, and I finished in a solid 2nd, and Leo in 3rd.
After another awesome beach party that I couldn’t miss I had to get some sleep before the sprint event started. It’s never over till its over and I still felt confident to win this event, especially after an awesome warm up at the distance race and then working out on the dance floor. I knew the chances of me defending my European Cup title was slim since Casper had pretty big lead on the point rankings even if I won this event… but, I still had to do the best I could do! In order to win the Europen Cup I had to win and Casper had to finish with an overall 4th in order for me to defend my European Cup title. This day of competition was my day, the sprint races have always been my favorite, especially when there are waves to deal with. The swell picked up twice the size as the previous day with a surprising 1-2 meter swell and epic conditions for a surf race. This had me very excited and the party continued, I was stoked to get started with competing in conditions that I’m confident and comfortable in! Heat after heat, win after win, we finally came to the final, with no surprise Casper and Leo right by my side at the start. Another great performance throughout the day of sprints was Dylan Frick. At the start of the event the music was pounding, the crowd was going nuts and the waves were consistently slamming the beach. At the sound of the horn Casper, Leo Dylan and I led the pack to the first buoy where we then had to turn and head in to the beach and surf some waves. With an epic M course we had the chance to slam through surf twice and ride waves in twice, and on our second run out through the surf it was Dylan Frick and I in the lead with a pretty big gap on Leo and Casper. Coming around the last buoy turn Dylan and I rode the last wave into the beach together.. I looked at Dylan and looked over my shoulder to see a big gap and started to laugh.. I knew I had already won the Italia Surf Expo, even if Dylan got 1st in the sprint, I was so stoked to be riding in with one of my best friends on tour and team mates with Starboard. With this in mind and as well team camaraderie I kind of cheered on Dylan through the finish for his 1st place finish! That meant that team Starboard earned two 1st place finishes for Starboard with Dylan winning the Sprint race, and my Overall win for the event!
After crossing the finish line, I then turned my back to the sea anxious to see the results of Leo and Casper, because their finish would be the tell tell for my overall European Cup Finish. They had to finish 3rd and 4th for the overall event for me to take the EU Cup title.. It was so close for the points that all of us were hovering for more than an hour waiting to hear the official tally. In the end, Casper Steinfath finished 1st for the European Cup, with myself very close in 2nd and Leonard Nikka in 3rd. Out of the contending athletes that were in the running for the EU Cup I was happy to see Casper take it. Off course I wanted it, but Casper has been a great friend of mine over the years racing with him around the world, and he’s from Europe. He is a genuine great person and humble athlete with a good head on his shoulders, which is why he is one of my best friends and favorite competitors on the World Series. Congratulation Casper!
I was scheduled to leave Italy to the UK for the Grand Opening of the new Wave Garden in Snowdonia, Wales that evening, but I would have missed the award ceremony and party if I made my flight, so, I decided to reschedule my flight and happily received my 1st place award for the Italia Surf Expo and my 2nd place overall finish for the European Cup. We always make sure to have a good time after these events on tour, and that we did here at the conclusion of the Italia Surf Expo. Thank you so much to the Waterman League for another great event, the Italtian Surf Expo for showing the world how a great event is run, and to the competitors on the World Tour for pushing me hard always.
And Mahalo to my sponsors, Starboard, Honolua Surf Co, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Vitargo,and Cobian for believing in me as I compete around the world. #InnovateandInspire #InZane #Zane’sWorld