This weekend saw the first event of 2016’s BSUPA SUP Surf Series take place at Putsborough, Devon. A great turn out, even in the absence of amazing conditions, saw a whole host of paddlers battling for glory. On hand were SUP North’s Alan Taylor – making the trip from the NW – and Blue Ewer from Plymouth. Check out the two perspectives on what was a successful event. Pics courtesy of Steve Laddiman.
Alan – Ahead of the first BSUPA SUP Surf Series event and I had bagged a last minute entry to the comp. One small problem; whilst my fellow surfers where practising and registering I had an evening intro to SUP lesson that would see me teaching late into the evening. So with fellow Starboard team mate Simon Dunton needing to also leave late a plan was hatched to set off for North Devon at 11pm. Possibly not the best start but at least we would arrive in time to register.
With the obligatory wrong turns and the odd stop for burgers, coffee, chocolate and change of driver Simon’s SUP North bus landed in Puts at 5am giving us at least a couple of hours to get some shut eye.
Wearily we climbed out of the van at 7am to be greeted by a rude 15 mph onshore, chilly wind slapping us in the face – not quite what we had imagined for or southern day trip! Already Puts was full of vans stacked high with boards and riders for the comp. Peering towards the beach the sea looked full of windblown slop – there would be waves but we knew straight away this was going to be no easy day. With most riders opting for sub 100L boards there would be lots of swimming.
Despite less than perfect sea conditions sunshine was blazing and as the briefing began it became clear the event was to be very well attended. Briefing over we checked the board for our heats, eight in total. I was in the first with Simon the second.
My opposition looked tough with young favourite Ollie Laddiman and fellow Starboard team rider Andrew Pieterse – I had my work cut out. The horn sounded to let us know it was on and by now a strong cross on wind was hitting the competition area.
My board choice was the 7.7ft Starboard Pro and it would be fair to say in the choppy conditions my usual go to SUP was a little too small for taking it easy. Despite that I caught and rode around six waves, one before the heat began (oops!), managing a few turns and the odd paddle transfer. I noticed that my fellow competitors also struggling with their sea legs but were still bagging a few nice rides – their wave selection, experience and riding skills showing through.
As quick as my competition had begun it was over as the only the top two riders in my heat went through. Ollie and Andrew had made it to the next round. Simon fared slightly better going through his first round but getting knocked out in the second.
As the comp went on the conditions remained with riders battling chop and wind. The top surfers put on amazing displays which helped to show what excellent board skill they have.
Into the men’s finals we had Ollie, Matt, Aaron and James vying for the top spot. With all the riders starting to show signs of fatigue, wave selection was becoming ever important to conserve energy for those signature tail slash moves. Aaron (first place) was giving it lots of high energy surfing, releasing the fins and chucking spray on numerous waves. Matt came in second with possibly the best single wave of the heat with his silky smooth pumping down the line timed effortlessly with powerful paddle strokes, propelling his Barker board into an aggressive cutback, several sharp turns and paddle transfers. James (third) caught a lot of waves and some noticeably long rides with multiple manoeuvres. Ollie was fourth with some great tail sliding action – unfortunately the waves just didn’t give the power and push Ollie needed to show the full potential of his skill.
The women’s final was a similar battle with Nicky Graham from the North East winning in her first ever SUP comp. Our teammate Marie Buchannan took second on her favourite 7.7ft Carbon Pro.
With the event over early (the original plan was to run for two days) Simon and I decided on a fast exit to a great forecast on the North East coast. We spent Sunday trying out the 2016 Starboard 7.4ft Pro in some bigger waves.
A fantastic well organised event held in less than perfect conditions, well attended with keen surfers. Thanks must be given to the judges and organisers who pulled off a great contest and we look forward to the next one! Special thanks to Steve Laddiman for providing the action shots and encouragement.
Alan Taylor is sponsored by SUP North, Starboard SUP UK, Land Paddle UK and Kahuna Creations
Blue Ewer – Where are you Groms?
This year’s first BSUPA wave event, held for the first time at Putsborough, had a lack of new faces in junior event but was still a tightly contested fleet overall. With less than perfect conditions it was still a fun and well organised comp by South West SUP’s Marc Hambridge.
For the first time I competed in both the Junior and Open men’s fleet. My first heat (Open) was among the wind blown choppy 2-3ft waves. Besides spending a fair bit of time struggling to stay on my board I managed to get a few decent waves and happily advanced through.
There were some great paddlers in the heats and I was stoked to be competing against them. Alex Murray was one such SUPer who also advanced forward with me.
A few heats down and I was in with the Junior three man final with Todd Sawyer and Finn Gamblin. We were all competing in tough onshore windy conditions with all of us struggling to find quality waves.
Before long I was in the main open semi-final – my toughest heat so far that read: Matt Barker-Smith, Arron Rowe, Matt Argyle and me! It was tricky against the best SUP surfer in the country. Although I got some great waves it was no surprise that my contest ended there, (although I did get further than my dad for the first time!).
At the presentation I was super stoked to get my first Junior surf win and I also finished higher in the ranks than many great SUP surfers. It’s put me in a great position for the start of the year. I’m looking forward to competing in following BSUPA Surf Series events.
Blue is supported by Naish UK, K4 Fins, and Reactive Watersports.
1st Aron Rowe
2nd Matt Barker-Smith
3rd James Arnold-Smith
1st Nikki Graham
2nd Marie Buchanan
3rd Rachel Ince
1st Blue Ewer
2nd Tod Sawyer
3rd Finn Gambin
Points for the series and finishing places will be posted Monday 18th..