Portugal ready for Ocean Racing in April 2024. CANOE-EUROPE.ORG

The 2024 European Canoe Association (ECA) Ocean Racing European Championships in Portugal will be held in the Azores from 11-14 April, as a prelude to the big event of the World Championships in Madeira in October. The archipelago is located 1500 km from the capital Lisbon.

This important continental tournament will precede the big event in Madeira in October, where the continent's best will compete against the world's best for glory.

"Portugal will be the capital of ocean racing in 2024! We are used to hosting important international competitions in all canoeing disciplines, so we have considerable experience. Together with our local partners in the Azores and Madeira, we will deliver  the best European and World Championships in history," said a confident Vitor Félix, President of the Portuguese Canoeing Federation.

Their federation is considered one of the strongest and most successful in the world of canoeing, a fact not lost on its president. "Portuguese canoeing today has two brands. Nationally, we are a sporting reference due to the international results of our athletes, and internationally, we are a benchmark in the organisation of high-level events".

Commenting on the tournament, which will begin in April in the North Atlantic, Vitor Félix said: "The Azores have excellent sea conditions for ocean racing enthusiasts, and our local partners have extensive experience in organising regional and national competitions, especially in terms of safety, which is crucial in these competitions.

Portugal has experience in such competitions, having hosted the first ECA Ocean Racing European Championships in 2014. "Since then, ocean racing has grown significantly, with more participants, and the discipline has become part of multi-sport events, such as the Beach Games. As a result, the European federations are giving more importance and attention to this discipline". 

The head of the sport in Portugal said of the discipline's popularity: "The sea is in our blood and part of our history. With 800 kilometres of Atlantic coastline and the islands of the Azores and Madeira, we have excellent conditions for ocean racing. Our national championships usually include 4 or 5 races with around 250 competitors. 

"On 9 March, we held our first National Championship in 2024, with 250 athletes in the junior, senior and master categories. This year we introduced the children's level, with a smaller course near the coast, and we already have around 180 young athletes," added Félix.

The popularity of the sport is no guarantee of results, but Félix is confident about Portuguese athletes: "In recent years, Bernardo Pereira has often been on the podium in international competitions in the junior and under-23 categories, so we expect him to make history at home. We also hope good results in other categories; in the junior category we have some athletes who could surprise."