Words: Tez Plavenieks
Photos: Simon Bassett, Ollie Laddiman and Tim Rowe
If you peer over your shoulder and squint into the distance you’ll just make out the SUP yoof, coming in fast. The next generation of rippers is advancing and in no time the old guard will have to step aside and make way for the next level. In fact, they may already have landed…Aaron Rowe, Ollie Laddiman and Holly Bassett get to sit in the hot seat for a good old fashioned grilling. For the low down on this rabble of young stand upstarts, read on…
Chichester, West Sussex.
When did you discover SUP and what prompted you to get involved?
I began paddle surfing at 11. My dad started before it was big in the UK. He mainly SUPed at his watersports club on West Wittering Beach (WWWC and X-Train) – that’s when I got into it.
What’s your favourite discipline and where do you mainly paddle?
My favourite discipline is by far surfing. I usually practice at my local Wittering breaks – east or west, depending on where the surf is best.
What’s your favourite UK SUP spot?
Cornwall and Devon have some great places to surf. Croyde and Watergate Bay (where the annual BSUPA Nationals are held) are awesome. When the surf is pumping at home I have some of the best sessions though.
If you could paddle anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Personally, I would choose Hawaii. I’ve been to Maui quite a few times and had some great sessions – warm ocean, sun and perfect waves do it for me.
Describe your best SUP session?
Out in Maui, last year, the waves at Kanaha Beach Park were pumping. It was overhead and super clean. I was out for hours surfing the glassy waves and saw a few turtles and a sting ray. It was just one of the best and most memorable sessions I’ve had so far. Hopefully there will be many more like it to come.
Who do you mainly paddle with at home?
Mostly my dad – he’s my paddle buddy. My friend Lucy, who longboards, also comes with us sometimes.
Which people do you look up to, SUP or otherwise?
Bethany Hamilton inspires me as a surfer as well as a person.
What are your best SUP achievements to date?
My best achievement was BSUPA National Surf Championships 2013 – I won the women’s and junior event and became Women’s Champion. This has now allowed me the opportunity to go out to Granada, Nicaragua and compete in the ISA World Championships.
Do you have any goals for the coming season – either competitive or personal aspirations?
I want to give it my best shot at the Worlds – I’ve been training hard in and out of the water so I’m hoping this gives me the best possible chance at success. I’m also working hard to achieve good grades for my GCSEs.
Any trips planned this year – UK or abroad?
Nicaragua in May for the competition.
You’re part of the next generation of UK SUP – do you feel this pressure?
I wouldn’t say I feel the pressure, I do want other people to enjoy SUP like I do though.
Where do you see the sport going in the UK?
At the moment SUP is one of the fastest growing watersports in the UK and I can only see it continuing.
Do you think the UK scene can get as big as the US and Oz? Could we step up and compete on the same level as the world’s best?
Potentially, I’m sure it can. We have some amazing paddlers in the UK – all on par with other countries. More people joining the sport can only maximise our chances.
What would you like to see from the sport as it gets bigger?
More people out on the water!
Are there any other young SUPerstars we should be aware of?
Aaron Rowe most definitely.
What’s your favourite bit of SUP kit and why?
The board and paddle because without it I wouldn’t be able to SUP – haha!
Any last words, shout outs or thanks?
I want to thank Fanatic and Ion for my boards and wetsuits, and Seasprite UK for my Kialoa paddles.