Ollie, Ollie, Kerry! (Shilston, Laddiman and Baker take top honours at Surf Steps South Coast SUP Surf Classic).
Andy Joyce from Surf Steps, the comp organiser, reports from the weekend’s south coast SUP surf action. (Pics courtesy Reuben May).
Phewww! Sitting back on Sunday writing this with an enormous sense of achievement….and relief!
We managed to hold the first SUP surfing contest on the inconsistent English south coast and we got some decent waves. Pigs do fly it seems. The Surf Steps crew called the South Coast Classic Surf SUP Comp on for Saturday 23rd Jan the Thursday before and spent the next 48hours in overdrive. It takes a long time contacting the crew, answering queries to finalise competitors and staff. We continued in the same mania through the comp too, moving locations and people into heats and roles all through the day.
Woke up early to warm calm conditions. Drove down to Surf Steps as dawn was breaking and was gifted with sunny glassy seas with small clean lines…..eeeekkkk!
With the high spring tide the lines were too small, breaking on the shore. Got everyone together at 8.30 and gave them some options, it’s their comp; let them decide what they want to do. My paddling buddy and man for a jam, Nick Watt drove off east to see what Hampshire was like. On a positive report, the comp crew plumed for Highcliffe – off we go!
Nerve racking making sure we take the all the essential comp gear to the site, “Have I forgotten anything?” constantly running through my head for the next half an hour. We got there, reset and got ready to go. We made the right choice; Highcliffe was around head height and formed ground swell, with a hazy overcast sky. Looking good.
As the tide was high and the sun low, we had difficulty seeing the competitors vest colours for judging identification. We explained this to the competitors; got them to move so in turn our judging view point. Stay away from the cliffs further down I said, it’s soft clay and you’ll get covered in it…too late! Comp staff and their equipment were coated. I sunk down to my knees in it and nearly had to be pulled out!
Great start – the faffometer was redlining and we’d only just started! Getting the ball to roll is always the hardest and after the 1st great heat, things got into a routine and relaxed. The judges Jay (Manning), Simon Deeming, Katja Sievers, Mark Phillips, Nick Watt and Phil Plume did a fantastic job, especially considering their lack of experience. No small thanks either, to the accurate tabulation of Jo Hamilton Vale assisted by her husband, Pete, it made sure the best rides selected who went through as the heats progressed.
There were some close fought battles all the way through the comp. Mark Slater and Charlie Grey in heat one, Dave Ewer and Steve Laddiman went wave for wave in heat three. Phil Plume edged through in heat four, only to be just pipped by fellow northerner Slasher (Mark Slater) in the Semi 1. Similar tussle in Semi 2 with Captain Nick Watt bowing out in 3rd to a wave milking Steve Laddiman. The final saw a tight battle between Ollie S and Tynemouth’s Nick Graham, Ollie just getting the nod by a point or 2 due to some nice finishes of rides on the inside. Very tight also for 3rd and 4th with Steve Laddiman sliding in front of Slasher.
1st Ollie Shilston
2nd Nick Graham
3rd Steve Laddiman
4th Mark Slasher Slater
1st Kerry Baker
2nd Katja Sievers
U18 Young Fellas
1st Ollie Laddiman
2nd Blue Ewer
3rd Ben Pye
Starboard SUP UK rider Ollie Shilston commented on his win:
‘Very pleased to win the South Coast Classic SUP Surfing event yesterday in Bournemouth, it was great fun but nevertheless tricky conditions. It was great to start the year off with a win. Conditions started out with a clean 3ft wave but with a light onshore increasing during the day the waves deteriorated slightly. I had a hard first heat which I scraped through but I started to find my rhythm in the semi final and final. The Starboard 7’7 pro model I was riding went really well in the conditions. It was a great event and well organised.’
Under 18s winner Ollie Laddiman said on FB:
‘Very unexpected win in the under 18 category at the South Coast SUP Surf Classic. Thank you to Andy Joyce for organising the event and to all the judges etc for helping out! A well done also goes to Blue who came second and Ben who was third. Oh, and thanks Joe for the loco paddle!’
Reflections and thanks
Great day for SUP surfing, thank you for all for being part of it, competitors, sponsors, helpers and the people that came along to watch. Also an especially a big up for all the crew that made the long distances outside the county, Kerry Baker and the Laddimans from Wales and Nick Graham came down from Tynemouth! We all made it happen, the individual efforts and faith came together to make an awesome whole. Special thanks to Tids and Tom for their tireless beach marshalling and safety, the good vibe staff/competitors helping out where they could and all the crew that came down to watch and support.
Special thanks to Surfing GB and Southbourne Surf Lifesaving Club for the competition and safety resources. Lastly, but not leastly, amazing prizes and help from the sponsors: The SUP store, Fatstick, CG Custom Paddleboards, Fanatic and Starboard.
It’s an example of what the UK SUP community can achieve without big budgets, working together to make a difference at the grassroots to develop the sport/lifestyle. Hopefully it might make you think about SUP events in your own area? If you do want to and need help with any aspects, just give me a shout and I’ll do my best to make dreams real.
For events where the focus is on the waves and the people, you’re gotta send the time on the prep, but be fluid like the sea-be prepared to move your plans, if you can do this you make the best of the briny fluid too.
Like the muddy clay stuck to my gear, the good memories of the Classic will be around a long timeJ