Words: Dave Ewer
Pics: Georgia Wharton
Fresh from our first race of the season at the Naish N1SCO inland champs myself and SUP grom son Blue were racing again. This weekend we headed closer to home for race two of the UK SUP Clubs series
Hosted by BaySUP and run from the playground of Britain’s rich and famous at Sandbanks Poole – the only place I’ve found which is more expensive to park on the road than the carpark!
Conditions were relaxed and friendly at registration and bumping into some familiar faces was all good too. I knew I had to raise my game and the Devon paddlers were all keen to battle it out. Our team was myself, Ben Fisher (UK N1SCO champ) and my son Blue – all of us in our first UK SUP Clubs race. Everything to prove against some very tough competition.
Before the start we soon realised there was a good turn out on the Naish N1SCO’s. There was relief on the faces of some of the riders (Bryce) when we announced we were all racing hard boards this weekend.
I was on a Starboard 14′ Sprint from a couple of years ago (a bit of a rolling log unless it’s flat). Ben and Blue were on a Naish Javelin 14’ and 12’6”.
A concise briefing was held on the beach before the races began. Sam Ross held a junior race on One Design Red Paddle 10’6 Max race boards. This was well attended with some keen racing in a BOP format close to the beach. A great way to get your kids involved. All boards were supplied, just book in.
On to the main event and there were three main classes. Naish N1SCO, (rent or bring your own) – one of the biggest fleets. These were first to start; three mins later the 12’6”’s set off and then the 14” class. Normally for me racing consists of a buoy turn and back again, maybe two. This weekend we had loads of buoy turns in roughly an oval course with a fair bit of racing close to the beach. Five laps in total which should split the fleet.
N1SCO start was a run from the beach and around 50 metres to the first buoy of carnage before heading to the right. An enthusiastic packed start line was great to watch. This fleet had some talented paddlers and was pretty hotly contested.
Next start was the 12’6” (Blue’s class). He’d skipped the junior race now he’s 14yrs. 12’6” was a smaller fleet but had people like Sam Ross (11cities paddler) and Blue’s rival junior 16yr old Ben Pye on Starboard. Blue and Ben raced off at the start with Ben on an absolute flyer of a sprint to the first couple of marks.
Then it was the 14” class start. Both myself and Ben Fisher were in with the cream of the UK’s elite paddlers. The right hand side of the line was tight and I knew the first mark would be chaotic and also on my weaker buoy turn side too. As I was on my rolling log board I thought a less busy start and a wide line would be fine as I had five laps to catch up with everyone!
Bang and we were off! Stepping onto a 24”wide round rail board is wobbly enough on a river but sprinting into the water and being surrounded by frantic paddlers doesn’t help. Needless to say I didn’t have the best of starts. I pretty much jumped on to the rail of the board!
Before long I was chasing the pack. It always takes a lap or two to find your place in the field with so many buoy turns. Every turn riders were either leaving the gate wide open or making a board length on you – it was great racing.
I quite like turns, (the lefts are fine but rights were hard work). I think my flat water dug out board that I could barely stand on wasn’t the best for pivots but I coaxed it round the course trying to find some flat water for it.
Two or three laps in I was in a tussle with Carl T, Will V and Nick W and had Maff W breathing down my neck too. Some close drafting was going on and I also had time for a quick swim too for no apparent reason. I got to a stage were I was drafting Nick Watt which I did this for half a lap until my conscience got the better of me. I was keeping an eye on Blue who was half a lap ahead with Ben Pye on his tail ready to strike.
We were now on the last straight all sprinting to try and gain a place or two, when Will V falls in front of me – result! Two seconds later I catch a rail too and go straight in too! Maff Wall can’t believe his luck and sails straight passed us chuckling to himself. I jump back up with the leash wrapped around the bottom of the board and try not to lose another space in the last 10 metres – racing huh?
I finish in time to watch the rest of the fleet stumble up the white sands of the beach to the applause. A great fun race in idyllic surroundings with some great paddlers too.
At prize giving I managed to win an ION hat and Blue won a cap in the draw – shame I left them both on the table though!
A pretty successful day for the team. Ben Fisher had a great race coming in third, Blue managed to hold off Ben P to claim first 12’6” and I, well I finished… When’s the next wave event?
Thanks to all the BaySUP crew and the team behind UK SUP Clubs for their impeccable organisation putting on a fine this event. Looking forward to attending some more.
1st Ryan James, Mistral
2nd Zoltan Erdelyi, Jimmy Lewis
3rd Ben Fisher ,Naish
1st Christine Anderson, Starboard
1st Blue Ewer, Naish
2nd Ben Pye, Starboard
3rd Sam Ross, Red Paddle
1st Andrea Richardson
1st Alex Tobutt
2nd Stuart Appleby
3rd Bryce Dyer
1st Jo Hamiton-Vale