This year’s ‘Paddling for Life, Paddling for Children’ * is happening from Mykonos!
Costas, athletic, seafaring, fearless and 2017’s ‘Man of the Year’ is a sailing and windsurfing coach who has taken part in three Olympic Games in the past and has travelled from Pafos to Limassol, Kastelorizo to Limassol and Crete to Limassol on an SUP board. He is now training hard to copy that from Mykonos to Limassol. The sea, he claims “is in my blood. It makes me feel free, and every day spent by the sea is a good day.” Costas, one of the first people to bring stand up paddle boarding to Cyprus, is completely devoted to the sport: “It’s fun, especially in waves, or downwind, and in flat water it’s relaxing and good exercise.” He has his signature beach spot at Santa Barbara in Limassol which is now a hub for the Sup athlete, friend and student.
I have always felt intimidated by the sea and to be honest it wasn’t until Costas got me onto the board a couple of years ago that I started to face my fear of the water and slowly overcome it.
Because Costas grew up by the sea it explains his affinity with it. Let’s hear what he has to say about his merman tales and his next big adventure!
Costas tell us what connects you to the sea?
The sea gives me inner peace and tranquility. It is what I call home. My home.
How did you pick your beach spot at Santa Barbara?
I didn’t pick it! It was the only available spot 4 years ago. I guess it picked me and I am super happy with it!
Which water sport is your favourite?
Without a doubt SUP surfing. I am passionate about it.
What do you see as being the fastest growing water sport?
It has to be SUP. The rate it is growing in popularity is unbelievable.
What made you travel from Pafos, Kastelorizo then Crete with only your board?
First and foremost, I wanted to challenge myself. At the same time, it was a chance for me to raise money for charity. The first year we raised €14,000 for the Cyprus Red Cross Society.
Were you alone?
No I wasn’t. Nicolas Karaolis was by my side throughout my first trip and since then I have what I call my team. ‘It takes a village,’ you know!
How did they support you and how do they continue to?
By constantly being by my side. My no.1 supporter and go-to person for everything is my sister, Irene Symeonides. Nicos Karaolis and the people who train with me daily also give me ongoing support, love and care and last but not least Pavlos Damianou who cooks for me, looks after my diet and generally my wellbeing.
What difficulties did you face?
I think the most difficult part was the intense training and lead up. During my time traveling I tried not to lose my mind. Even though I had my team alongside it was very difficult to stay focused and not go crazy. After day 3, physical challenges started to begin.
Is there one particular difficulty / obstacle that you remember more than the others?
Yes! On day 2 my body on both occasions played up on me causing me to vomit and feel weak. I think it was my immune system’s reaction to shock! I’m curious to see if it will happen again this year.
How are you training for Mykonos?
My training started end of December and has since then increased in hours. I follow a 4-week cycle which gets more intense as the cycle comes to an end. My training comprises of 40% SUP, 50% cycling and 10% fitness exercises.
How do you feel now the date of departure is approaching?
I have an element of anxiety and I am also hoping to stick to the time frame I set myself which is 850 km in 10 days.
How did you feel after your previous adventures?
Seeing Cyprus from afar made my exhaustion, aches and pains disappear. I cannot begin to describe my feelings once I set foot on land.
Why are you choosing to do Mykonos to Limassol?
I simply wanted to travel from the Aegean Sea and Mykonos’ location happened to be very convenient.
What differences do you expect to face from your Mykonos to Limassol trip?
I really hope we don’t encounter any other challenges than the ones I already know.
Where is ‘Paddling for Life, Paddling for Children’ donating the money you are raising this year?
This year we are donating to Preventative Pediatrics and to Karaiskakio.
Who are your main sponsors?
A big thank you to OPAP and VOLCA and of course to all my other sponsors.
Let’s help Costas’ charity event, ‘Paddling for Life, Paddling for Children’ by donating what we can below:
If we all help we will all make a big difference!
* «Paddling for life, paddling for children» is a charity event that this year is under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Anastasiadis. It has been taking place for the last few years by Costas Symeonides an athlete and trainer of windsurfing and stand up paddling, and his team. Their purpose is the financial support of non-profit organizations, that aim to help children. In 2013 Costas Symeonides along with Nikos Karaoli, successfully completed a total distance of 80km in 12 hours from Pafos to Limassol while stand up paddling. They raised the total sum of €13,900, and this amount was donated to the “Cyprus Red Cross Society”. In 2014 Costas successfully completed with his team a distance of total 400km (Kastelorizo – Limassol). They raised a total sum of €35,000, and this amount was donated to the “Center for Preventive Pedeatrics”. In 2016 Costas successfully completed with his team a distance of 700km within 10 days paddling (Crete – Cyprus). They raised a total sum of €35,000, and this amount was also donated to the “Center for Preventive Pedeatrics”. This year Costas Symeonides has set an even bigger goal. On the 12th of August he will attempt to travel a distance of 850km (Mykonos-Cyprus) on a paddle board, followed by a 10-man crew for marine support .The event will be organized by a team of 30 people and many volunteers.