Santa Barbara’s Matt Becker overcame a bad first turn and finished in fourth place in the Stand Up Paddle technical race final on Friday at the inaugural International Surfing Association World SUP and Paddleboard Championships in Miraflores, Peru.
The 17-year-old Becker covered the 4.5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 44 seconds to claim a spot on the podium and earn a copper medal.
He later won a silver medal as a member of the U.S. relay team that finished second behind Australia.
“Oh I’m stoked to have won both medals in a world championship event,” Becker told Presidio Sports in an email. “It’s nice to take something like that home as a souvenir.”
Australia’s Travis Grant, 28, won the SUP technical race gold medal, edging out compatriot Jaime Mitchell. Both crossed the finish line in 17:00. Paul Jackson of New Zealand took the bronze in 17:39.
There were 24 paddlers in the race that had them paddle 2.5 laps over an off-shore circuit at La Pampilla Beach, surf back to the beach after each lap and do a 50-meter sand run around a course flag.
Becker finished second to Grant in their semifinal heat. Grant won in 18:20 and Becker finished in 18:35.
“The (final) race was short but painful,” Becker said. “The first heat I took second behind Aussie paddler and friend Travis Grant and it was a pretty smooth race. The final was a little different. I had a good start and was in third behind Jamie Mitchell and Travis, but I was cut off at the first bouy turn, putting me in 12th. From there, I slowly made my way back up to sixth place and, just as it looked like I wasn’t going to get a better result than that, I caught a wave into the finish and passed frenchmen Eric Terrien on the running segment to take fourth behind Aussies Jamie Mitchell, Travis Grant, and New Zealander Paul Jackson.”
Grant is a world-class outrigger canoe paddler and Mitchell is a 10-time world champion in prone paddling.
Becker, who lives in the Santa Barbara Mesa neighborhood, started competitive Stand Up Paddle surfing three years ago.
The ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships drew athletes from 17 countries. Australia is leading in the team challenge, with the U.S. in second place going into the final day of competition.