Beyond the Zone

Reflections on EuroSUP 2022

By Alexandra Tyrer
Photos: Adrian Lomas and pro images are as per the watermark in the bottom right corner.

Reflections on EuroSUP 2022, where 16 nations congregated on the beaches of Hvide Sande on the west coast of Denmark for an action packed week of SUP racing across multiple disciplines.

Enjoy the ride
I was greatful to receive the invite to join Team England off the back of my performance at Cardiff, it was the GB SUP series opener for 2022 but I had no expectation of going to my spiritual home of Denmark, a few months later as part of Team England for EuroSUP 2022.

With a young family, personal commitments and much deliberation required, we embraced the opportunity and found a way to make it happen. We loaded the van (which was a mission in itself with two-under-two) and headed off on a road trip to the amazing Hvide Sande on the west coast of Denmark, passing through France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany on route. 

My name was down for the sprints and distance race, with the opportunity to dabble in the technical too. From qualifying on a flat, and in comparison, benign conditions of the River Taff, the west winds and bumps presented at Hvide Sande, were way beyond my comfort zone.

I went into each race knowing that I lacked the skills required to be truly competitive but my aim wasn’t to podium; it was to enjoy and learn from each race, with a view to develop myself and inspire others.

Success in context  
The distance race, which was a 15km downwind paddle across a vast fjord, for me, was the highlight of the week. The race didn’t get going until mid afternoon, which made for an anxious wait as I contemplated how bumpy the fjord would get, after all this was my first downwind race, with no previous experience of such conditions. 

I came last but simply competing was a massive personal win and for this my prize was seeing my fiancé with our girls in arms waiting for me under the finishing arch. Needless to say, it was emotional.

The sprint was also an eye opener. Running out into the sea with your board and paddle, jump on and racing 100m out into the sea to a buoy turn through the surf and swell; remain sufficiently composed to do a semi-convincing stepback turn and powering back to the beach without getting dumped by a set of waves and going arse over tit short of the finish line… I just about held it together.

As for the technical race, again on the sea and featuring twenty-seven turns and four beach runs – I was relieved to complete the course and actually enjoyed the experience. 

The takeaway for me was to measure my success not against other competitors but instead to measure success in context of the situation. All races took me out of my comfort zone – so if there’s one bit of advice to share it’s get out of your comfort zone and give it a go. 

The SUP bubble
After a week of being in a bubble of SUP racing I’ve come away with a sense of achievement and a hunger to develop my paddling repertoire, to make me a more

rounded paddler. My goal is to get to the coast more often and experience the bumps and develop my downwind skills. 

SUP racing in the majority of cases is an individual pursuit but to experience racing as part of a team with well known names from the UK SUP scene, including the likes of Marie Buchanan, Blue Ewer, Anni Ridsdill Smith, Emily Evans, Ben Moreham and new tallent in the making, Annabel Page and Will Keetley, made for rewarding and fun times. Meeting fellow paddlers from both our home nations and beyond is simply inspiring.

With close to 3,000 kilometres driven and nearly 48 hours clocked-up in the car, was it worth it? Well, if I’ve inspired you to get out of your comfort zone and give it a go, then, YES. It was worth it.

Kudos to all involved from both Team England and Team Wales, and to Surf England for making it happen. Thank you.

Alexandra is a paddleboard performance coach at ‘Up Your SUP’ and is passionate about supporting SUPers to reach their paddling potential by increasing their fitness, skills and knowledge. She is currently training as a PT and strength and conditioning coach, specialising in pre and postnatal exercise. Alex has been paddleboard racing since 2018 and brings a unique perspective to training from her background as a road cyclist, triathlete and rower.

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