Big Ben SUP Race

A few weeks prior to the event, 25 of the UK’s top paddlers were selected to race in this event. I was incredibly pleased to have been selected for this event. 20 Men, and 5 Females were selected by SUPboarder Magazine to take part in this test event. The reason for such a little number was to cause as little congestion and problems through the busiest part of the Thames, by trying to get everyone finished as close together as possible.

The race started outside the Thames Rowing Club, at Putney Bridge.

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Photo: Ben Pye

 

The race then went all the way downstream to Big Ben, and back. Past MI5, The Houses of Parliament, with the London Eye in sight.

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Race Map

With the strong tidal flow, and tail wind, everyone was super fast on the way to Big Ben. With every bridge we went under, the wind funnelled through, which was great on the first 10km, and with the wake from all the boats, it made it like a downwinder, but for the second 10km, it was not fun at all. with the strong headwind for 75% of it, and the tide against us also, it made it a challenging.

My race started with a good sprint, and I managed to draft someone for the first mile, then I overtook and let them draft me for another mile until Maurice Guy came past, and I paddled with him for a while.

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Photo: Jo Pye

After the turn at Big Ben, the main pack that I was chasing with Mo broke up. I was drafting two people for a while, Crispin Jones and Phil Plume were in front of us, but I was starting to tire at this point, and couldn’t keep up. I got dropped. I then paddled the rest of the race on my own.

It was incredible turning at the halfway point with Big Ben towering over us, and then back up past the houses of parliament.

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Photo: Jo Pye

This was probably the hardest race I have ever done, mentally and physically. Going against the current for most of the second leg, and the hard head wind made me tire quite quickly.

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Photo: Jo Pye

The total distance of this race was 20km.

I thoroughly enjoyed this race, and it was a great experience to partake in the first SUP Race through Central London!

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Photo: Jo Pye

The end results were:

1st: Paul Simmons

2nd: Marie Buchanan

3rd: Adam Stilling

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Photo: Ben Pye

I would like to thank everyone who supports me, Starboard SUP UK & Ireland, SUPboarder Magazine, Standuppaddleuk, West Country Surf Wax, and my incredible family and friends!

National Watersports Festival 2016

The first weekend of September 2016 saw the National Watersports Festival at Hayling Island.

I arrived late Thursday evening, trying to pitch my tent in the dark, and having never been to Hayling Island before, I was curious as to what was around me.

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In true DofE fashion!

The next day, Friday. The morning began with the latest boards from Starboard being pumped up and finned up on the beach for people to try. SUP Polo pitch being inflated, and everything being set up for the weekend.

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Photo: GlobalShots

 

Throughout the day, I had great fun on a brilliant Starboard WindSUP, and had my first taste of SUP Polo organised and ran by SUP North. The wind made the SUP Polo choppy, and with waves coming through, it was all added fun! Sam Ross earlier in the day got an awesome result in the Chimnet Dash on his Windsurfing foil.

The Saturday got even windier, and the windsurf racing got even greater to watch, with the Night Windsurf event in the evening, and the Severne Cup during the day.

I had the awesome opportunity on Saturday to run some Junior SUP Racing. This was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed it. The conditions were tough, with a lot of chop and strong winds, made it far from ideal paddling conditions. It was awesome to see the juniors battling it out on the technical and sprint courses!

On the Sunday, I also ran a SUP Racing Paddle Clinic with Alan and Lucy from SUP North. This was my first ever time running a SUP clinic, so I learned a lot for future opportunities like this.

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Photo: Starboard SUP UK

The Sunday finished with a downwinder with some of my Starboard Team mates, and then the NWF awards and prize giving.

My first ever National Watersports Festival was an awesome experience to say the least, and I can’t wait till the next!

I would like to thank everyone who continuously supports me. Starboard SUP UK, SUPboarder Magazine, Standuppaddleuk, West Country Surf Wax and my incredible family and friends.

ICON Classic SUP Downwind race.

With this being my first ever downwind race, I didn’t know what to expect, but now, I honestly believe it is one of the best disciplines you can race in. Here is my write up of the 2016 Icon Classic.

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Photo: Phibian

The event properly started for me on Friday evening. We had Verity Thomas from Jersey come to stay with us for the weekend, and it was great to get some last minute advice and tips from her for the race.

I raced the awesome 12’6 Starboard All Star Turtle Bay board for this race, and it worked a dream!

The race started in Lee Bay, and took us along my local North Devon coastline, past Ilfracombe, to Combe Martin. That coastline is pretty awesome!

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Photo: Ian Phillips

The race started with us all sprinting to a rib out to sea, about half a kilometre,  before heading east, down to Combe Martin, riding bumps and having fun! My target for this race was Scott Warren, mainly because he was also on a 12’6, but also because he has pushed me in previous races this year, so I thought who could be better to try and beat? Unfortunately, he had bad luck, with his PFD falling apart multiple times, and multiple dunkings and swims. Unlucky Scotty! He sprinted ahead of me at the start, but I managed to catch him in the bumps before his PFD disaster. I then went on in the race, trying to catch a few people in front of me on 14ft’s and 17ft’s, perhaps I was being too optimistic;) !

In Ilfracombe Bay, we passed a cruise ship moored up, probably filled with about 200+ people, which was great for the sport! For 200+ people to see a SUP race, (which a lot will have not seen before) is great!

Past the Cruiser, and on into Combe Martin, we started to lose the tail wind, and there was a lot of water moving around, still with some bumps to play with.

I finished the race 1st 12’6 board across the line, and also the only junior to enter the race.

A huge congratulations to my fellow Starboard Team mates Ollie, Paul, Marie and Emily for their podium finishes!

I had an awesome race, and the most fun I have probably ever had in a SUP race! I can’t wait for next year!

I would like to thank Starboard SUP UK, SUPboarder Magazine, Standuppaddleuk and West Country Surf Wax for their continued support, and of course my incredibly supportive family and friends!

2015 Highlights.

Wow, what an incredible year. My first year with Starboard, racing, and competing in SUP has gone great. I am really pleased with my results, Starboard have helped and supported me throughout. I have worked on improving my surfing, and gone from never having raced before, to racing in lots of events, which have been great fun, and I have enjoyed immensely. It has been a great learning curve for me.

My year started off with my first ever race, the Celtic Cup in St Ives, Hosted by Ocean Sports Centre. I entered the Cruising Class due to it being my first race, It was a 4km course, and I was very happy with my first place! This event also kicked off the start of the Starboard Tiki Tour, and I spent the weekend with Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde. Both Starboard international team riders. I learned so much from that weekend!

The next race, was the Exe Hammer, from Exmouth to Topsham, along the river Exe. The Junior fleet in this event was a strong one, with a lot of competition for myself. With Todd and Joe Sawyer from Cornwall, and Blue Ewer from Plymouth, it was a big race for all of us! I finished with a 1st place 12’6, and 2nd overall in the juniors, this was a great finish for me!12032079_1211952602163965_2381647388828708991_n

Then, the event I had been looking forward to for ages, Jersey’s Battle of the Rock! I was staying with The Axford Family for this event, so I had a very determined Sam Axford to compete against. A future champion for sure.

12036515_996553513698197_8221706570459562471_nYou can watch the Technical race from Jersey below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6GWQQjdHKQ

The next event was the event I had been looking forward to possibly the most, and that was Watergate Bay, UK Surf SUP Nationals. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I was still so happy and learned a lot for future events like this.

The final event of the year was the UK SUP final race, and I guess you could call it my ‘Home Turf’ because Waterborn is the club I am proud to be a part of! I had another very good race, and I really enjoyed the racing at this event.11233089_434625406722902_7763293099668308602_n

I have had such a good year overall, and I am very pleased with my results. I have learned a lot, and gained a lot of experience. I would like to thank Starboard SUP UK, SUPboarder Magazine and SUP South West for all their support this year. Also, a huge thanks to my family for their help and support throughout.

I have a lot more events planned for next year, and I’m really excited for the 2016 season. I also have plans to enter men’s competitions as well as juniors to gain more experience.

Bring on 2016!

UK SUP Clubs: SUP The Creek.

Saturday 24th October 2015 saw Waterborn SUP’s SUP The Creek. A 12.5km race including a mixture of upwind, downwind, sidewind, swimming, and bobbing. There was no junior fleet, so I was thrown in the deep end with the Men. The board I was using was the Starboard Turtle Bay, 12’6 x 25.5, which worked a dream on the downwind stretches and was once again very fast on the upwind handling the chop very well.

11233089_434625406722902_7763293099668308602_nThe race started outside the Crabshell Inn, with a quick upwind dash to the slipway, and our first buoy turn. I had a good start, giving myself the best chance going up to the buoy. Being a quite a narrow start point, as you can imagine, it got very choppy. I had a good turn, catching a few people up by going sharp round the buoy and sprinting a little way after. It was then a downwind stretch to the second buoy by the bridge up Bowcombe Creek. Where I picked up a few places with another good buoy turn. Then with another long downwind with the a few nice little bumps to play with to the Salt Stone marker or the Buoy of disaster, where I got a nice cold swim. I was then faced with a gruelling side wind paddle up Frogmore Creek.

12189152_423553017848314_8753460618145376749_nCrossing from Frogmore to Blacksmill really was tough going straight upwind, and it was like paddling into a brick wall every stroke. But we eventually got to the next buoy, with another short downwind then short upwind to next buoy, were I spotted Marie Buchanan catching me, so I pushed on to try to make as much ground as I could to the final buoy, I just had one long straight to the finish, but it was straight upwind. I was about half way when Marie caught me, and I tried to keep with her to the finish, and It was definitely a sigh of relief to get back in to the narrower less choppy parts of the estuary to the finish. Really happy with my result, 1st Junior overall. Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far, Starboard SUP UK, SUPboarder Magazine, SUP South West, and my very supportive family. Also a big thanks to Crispin Jones from Waterborn for putting on this event, as I know how much work and planning has been put into this! It was a great race!

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Jersey – Battle of the Rock!

Jersey’s Battle of the Rock. I flew out on my own to enter.

It was my first time flying on my own, so I was super excited!

Flying out to Jersey, I didn’t really know what to expect, but what a weekend, Jersey is somewhere everyone has to visit at least once. Such an awesome place! The water is clear, blue and warm. The people are nice. The weather is great.

I arrived on Friday, about 4:00pm, and was met and hosted by the Axford family.

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This is Tim (Dad), Sam, Toby  from Team STAxford. Unfortunately missing Polly (Mum). Photo: Ben Pye

We went and SUP Surfed at St Brelades straight from the airport. It was small, but clean, great fun.

Saturday, Racing at St Brelades. Long Distance was up first, Elite – 14km, Open – 8km and Juniors – 6km, 10’6 Groms – 2km.  Then after lunch, was the Technical, Everyone did the same course, in the shape of an arrow, with a distance of approx 1km. Elite – 5 laps, Open – 4 laps, Juniors – 3 laps, 10’6 Groms – 1 lap.

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Photo: Sacha Van Stratan

On Saturday evening, we had a presentation dinner at the Yacht Club, where Jon from Jono’s Watersports presented the Summer Race Series winners, and then Jo Hamilton-Vale from UK SUP Clubs presented Saturday’s UK SUP Club’s Race winners.

Sunday, Racing at Le Braye. With a B.O.P style race. The Course was roughly around 3km, with the Elite – 3 laps, Open – 2 laps, Juniors – 1 lap, 10’6 groms 1/2 lap.

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Photo: Sacha Van Stratan

All in all, it was a brilliant weekend, and a huge thanks to everyone who made it possible for me. Starboard SUP UK, SUPboardermag, SUP South West, Jono’s Watersport’s, Flybe, Verity Thomas, The Axford Family, Tim Tredant.