A race for all comers – Head of the Dart SUP Challenge 2017 race report

Words: Steve Pye

Pics: Holly Pye

Steve Pye, dad of Starboard SUP UK & Ireland rider Ben, reports from 2017’s Head of the Dart SUP Challenge, Devon.

Well, Sunday morning dawned and it was time for Head of the Dart.  A two hour drive for us to glorious South Devon for The HOTD, this year running from Totnes to Dartmouth, approx 8 miles.  This event is hosted by the two rowing clubs, one at either end and the event alternates with a different start venue each year.  A lovely sunny morning, pulling into the car park it was great to see a load of familiar faces, some not seen since our last gathering in 2016.

With 200 entries it was a sell out and limited to that number for safety reasons. A race briefing at 12 and then start at 12.30, the fleets all had 2 minutes between starts.  Due to the narrower window at the Totnes end, the 14’ men’s class started first followed by 12’6 men’s, 12’6 female and 14’ female and then the leisure class.  Conditions were good with light winds and sunshine. This event is a classic due to the amazing scenery throughout the course, which if you’re racing, helps alleviate the pain if you suffer like me.  The tide is flowing outward and helps your speed but gets shallower. It’s very tempting to cut corners but you don’t want to be stuck in the sand.

With lots of rips and eddy’s, local knowledge must help. Getting pulled sideways for 20ft seemed a very common story.  As always the races in both classes split into draft trains and lots of personal battles were playing out.

As we rounded the last bend we were faced with a long home straight and a headwind creating choppy water.  Tiredness had me making line up points along the bank to see if I was actually moving.  With half a mile to go and still a few eddy’s to navigate, the finish line was in sight,  enough to spur me on and a relief to cross the line.

This is a fantastic event and with the tide helping is great for anyone with some SUP experience. A big thanks to Red Paddle Co, Tushingham and Starboard UK and Totnes and Dartmouth rowing clubs for organising the event.

After the finish at Dartmouth, we all went to Halwell for the prize giving at Red Paddle Co’s impressive new headquarters.


Everyone that takes part is a winner, plus these.

Male 14’

1st place Ryan James

2nd Aaron Rowe

3rd Charlie Jones.

Female 14’

1st Marie Buchanan

2nd Christine Anderson

3rd Kerry Baker.

Male 12’6  

1st Henry Cornwell Brown

2nd Will Rogers

3rd Simon Frost

Female 12’6

1st Stef Kerek

2nd Holly Henderson

3rd Fran Blake.

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