Words and pics: Louise Royle
Newbie stand up paddler and experienced whiet water kayaker Louise Royle reports from 2016’s SAS Hurley Classic SUPX event held 19-20 Nov.
I only discovered SUP this summer, but was hooked from the start. I have been kayaking for over 30 years, but am enjoying the new challenges that SUP presents. Or to put it another way – new ways of falling in. I particularly love kayaking big volume water and really fancied the idea of SUPing something similar. So where better to start than at the SAS Hurley Classic.
The SAS Hurley Classic is a kayak freestyle competition that has been running for 27 years after a bunch of locals got together in the village car park and decided to stage an event. It really is a ‘classic’ which is founded on having FUN. Although there is some serious competition between world class paddlers from all around the globe, the whole ethos of the Hurley is to include and welcome everyone, irrespective of age or ability. This is the second year that SUP races and demos have been included.
On Saturday I took the opportunity to try out one of the demo white water SUPs and found that the greater thickness of the board definitely helped with staying upright in the moving water. Hurley Weir provides a retentive wave for surfing (and tricks in a kayak) followed by a large wave train. The trick with the SUP is trying to navigate across the complex pattern of waves, whirlpools and boils which constantly flux, and not fall off. I got on OK with crossing the current, but did fall off when I tried to surf the top wave – all a good laugh though.
The SUP X race involved racing across the current, around the buoys and back, then climbing up the ‘Ramp of Doom’ for a tag finish. Having come down the ramp the day before in a kayak (which is very scary), I was not looking forward to going UP it! This race was open to all, so in addition to the kayakers there were a number of SUP folk who had competed in the Bray Lake round the island race earlier. These guys had great balance and speed, but had very little experience of reading or navigating moving white water – whereas the kayakers’ were the opposite. This made for an interesting mix of tactics and lots of swims all round! Much fun with everyone trying something new and just enjoying being on/in the water. The winner of the SUP race was 16 year old Matt Stephenson who amazed us all by being able to cross the big boilly flow standing up on a race board without falling in.
This was a great opportunity for anyone wanting to try out SUP on moving water as there was lots of support from people who know the venue and plenty of rescue cover. The whole weekend was a really fantastic, inclusive event with a great friendly atmosphere. So if you fancy giving it a try, or just coming along to watch next year – keep an eye out on http://www.hurleyclassic.co.uk/.