1 May 2016

Head of the Dart Stand Up Paddle Challenge 2016

One of the UK’s best attended SUP events took place on the river Dart on Sunday 17th April.

Saturday’s rowing event saw fresh headwinds hampering the progress of the rowers but our event on Sunday 17th April was near perfect with sunshine, light tail winds and an incoming tide. Numbers were capped at 150 paddlers and we had a full entry (plus waiting list!) such is the popularity of this iconic stand up paddle event. 

The start did not meet our usual standards due to a broken safety boat causing a delay, then even worse the start horn failed to work! Allan Cross is not a man to be flustered in a crisis though and through power of his formidable voice managed to alert nearby paddlers on the start line to the start warning. The lack of horn did hamper some paddlers who had lingered back from the start line awaiting the “one minute” horn – which didn’t sound. Nevertheless, in their respective starts, both fleets managed to pull away off the line successfully, making for a colourful spectacle of paddlers and boards heading north towards Totnes.


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Pics by R. Fairchild


Eight miles and one hour twelve minutes later the lead racers approached the finish line, where the finishing team of our very own Ross Moore, Christine Tottman and Ali McGrigor were positioned to capture the paddlers’ numbers as they made swift progress towards the line. In a dramatic finish reigning 14′ champion Ryan James was edged out by Pete Holliday following a hard fought sprint up the home straight. Pete’s winning time was an event record and the ladies’ record was to fall too when HOTD debutant Ginnie Odetayo powered home with a comfortable lead in the ladies’ fleet.


While SUP racers are well catered for with numerous events across the UK, a key element to the HOTD event is the Leisure class aimed at non-competitive paddlers looking to complete the distance rather than battle for the podium (the Race division covers these paddlers!) It was impressive to see the leisure class make up almost 50% of the fleet, making the “challenge” aspect of the event equally as important as the racing. A healthy selection of prizes was donated from Red Paddle Co and Starboard, distributed by raffle to the Leisure fleet paddlers.

A huge thanks to Dart-Totnes rowing club who provided safety cover and safety boats, Lee from Dittisham Boats and all of the land-based volunteers who’s combined efforts ensured the event ran smoothly.

For a full gallery, results and more, check out the event site www.headofthedart.com


4 Apr 2016

Clacton Sea & Beach Festival

SUP Races with Cash Prizes for All Abilities at Clacton Sea & Beach Festival

On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of June 2016 the British Stand Up Paddleboard Association will be hosting SUP racing as part of the Clacton Sea and Beach Festival. With a range of races to suit all abilities, including individual and team races, there is something for everyone to get involved with this summer.
Top competitors are expected to take part and there is a prize fund of £1500, although there are plenty of opportunities for everybody to win, regardless of age or experience.


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On Saturday, the focus will be on Endurance and Distance Racing, while Sunday is more about Technical Skills, such as sharper buoy turns and sprints. On both days, there will be Novice and Junior and Racing. With prize money for the top 5 paddlers, the Novice races are ideal for getting out on the water and testing out your competitive edge. Even if you have never raced before, this is the perfect opportunity to test out those step backs turns around the buoys. The races include a small beach run to break up the paddling.

As with the Novice Races, the Junior Races are all about getting out on the water and having fun. With categories for under 18’s and under 14’s (minimum 10 years of age) these races are short and fast with multiple heats, so that competitors can sample many different course layouts. There is prize money for the top 5 places in both age categories.

If you want to test your mettle and line up alongside some of the top names in the sport, we have imported the iconic race format ‘Battle of the Paddle’ from the hallowed shores of California. Paddlers battle it out for £500 split between the classes. With beach runs, buoy turns and the ultimate test of endurance, the Battle of the Paddle should see some of the UK’s top athletes in attendance and is definitely the one to watch if you want to see some top end racing! Clearly, those entering the Battle of the Paddle are not eligible to win prize money in the Novice Racing!



If teamwork is your thing, how about having a go at GISUP racing? These are Giant Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards. Capable of carrying over 15 people, for the GISUP races, we are looking for teams of 4-6 people on both days to race head to head. There is prize money for the top 3 teams; so do you have what it takes to balance, paddle and work well as a team?!

The Team Theme continues on Sunday with the introduction of the SUPER Team Relay! Combining standard Team Relays with a new race format proving popular in New Zealand, SUPER Team Relay includes a SUPER lap; a real game changer, which puts tactics at the forefront of the race. Teams of 5 compete for a top prize of £125.  Chuck the Carbon and Embrace the Inflatable…in the iRACE! These are races which make the most of inflatable boards. With prize money on both days for the top 3 men and women, pop down, pump it up and PADDLE!

It costs only £15 per day to enter all the races for which you are eligible, so why not come and along and give it a go?

If you don’t want to get on the water, there is something for all the family at the Clacton Sea and Beach Festival, with live music and children’s activities, as well as all the action to watch on the water. There will be spectacular displays from top competitors in both Windsurfing and Kitesurfing, as well as SUP. So come along, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the action, which takes place just yards from the shore!

Further news and race entry is available via The National Watersports Festival website www.nationalwatersportsfestival.com


27 Mar 2016

Round Hayling SUP 2016

By PJ Simmons

14 miles around Hayling Island

With at least two thirds of the route around Hayling on sheltered waters within Chichester and Langstone harbours it makes sense to be riding a flat water oriented shape (and hope the seafront isn’t too gnarly!) Marie and I currently have two flat water boards between us, a 12’6″ and a 14′ Sprint. I gave Marie the choice and she opted for the faster 14′ meaning I would have my work cut out on the 12’6″ against the majority of the guys who had chosen 14′ boards.

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The wind was due to swing from the NNE direction it had been blowing all morning to somewhere between SW and NW depending on which forecast I looked at. Pre-start I decided to go off hard on the first section upwind through Chichester Harbour to get through to Langstone Harbour and pick up some downwind bumps before the wind changed. If I could be ahead of some rivals by a few minutes then these would be extra downwind minutes compared to more headwind for my rivals. Unfortunately the wind changed as we headed along the north side of the island and we ended up simply having a headwind all the way to the seafront.

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My lower back was tight as I pushed to maintain a lead of less than 100m over distance specialist Mark Slater on his 14′ board. Through Langstone Harbour I adapted my technique to minimise back strain but this limited my power and allowed Mark to close to within 50m by the harbour entrance, a gap that shortened to almost half this when I was forced to jump in to remove a large clump of seaweed from my fin.

Making it to the seafront I rewarded myself with a few big swigs of drink from my hydration pack as I assessed the sea ahead of me. I decided I would take the inside route, perilously close to small breaking waves which were causing chop to bounce back off the steep shingle beach close to the high tide mark. These lumps proved to be a blessing as I put to use all the stormy water paddling I’ve done with Marie back at home over the winter. I “worked” the bumps, timing my strokes and positioning the board to maximise the glide with every opportunity.

After a few minutes along the seafront I was surprised to see Mark had dropped back, evidently not having the same success with working the bumps. I grasped the chance to push on and built a good lead that seemed to be growing all the way along the seafront until an entanglement with a fisherman’s line saw me waste a frantic minute or so thrashing, twisting, undoing my leash and falling in several times as I struggled to free myself. It seemed as I released it from my body it caught the coiled leash, then when free from the leash it snagged my leg. Undeterred by the angry ranting from the shore-based fisherman, who was close to landing his biggest ever (12’6″) catch, I eventually wriggled free and was relieved to see my lead was still a healthy one.

I was now thinking bar a major disaster I had the SUP race won, but where were the windsurfers? ( the leading paddlers had overtaken them before the bridge at Northney). My thoughts of a historic overall “win” against the windsurfers were shattered as Rob Kent flew past reaching along assisted by a fairly fresh sea breeze, almost perfect for him but creating awkward side-chop for us paddlers. I gave him a thumbs up and cracked on with my paddling, realising there were still some tricky obstacles before the finish with my tight close-to-shore route bringing me a potentially race-wrecking mix of waves, groynes and rocks.

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Another ten or so windsurfers came past as I diced with the shorebreak around Sandy Point but I was relieved to see I’d held off the lead group of paddlers by several minutes. Using the small waves to counteract the strong outgoing current from the emptying Chichester Harbour I had the impressive Hayling Island Sailing Club in sight and with adrenaline pumping from knowledge victory was sealed, I pushed on to the finish taking nearly 10 minutes off last year’s record time I’d set on a 14′ board, just 5 minutes behind Tushingham/Starboard raceboard legend Rob Kent’s winning windsurfing time.


There’s something special about the Round Hayling event: while it’s a great challenge for us “racy” types, the SUP Company and HISC did a great job of offering three different courses for different levels of paddler, with the emphasis on competitors completing the challenge of a certain distance rather than just being in a race with a load of hardcore competitors. For some of these recreational paddlers battling wind and tide to complete four miles is a greater achievement than for some of us racers striving for the 14 mile Round Hayling podium.


Well done to everyone that helped organise: HISC, Sailracer, The SUP Company, plus all who took part, particularly the large number of newcomers to SUP racing and not forgetting our own Tushingham office team: Jamie Harman, James Connor and Ross Moore, who all did themselves proud with solid results. Marie again proved she can mix it with the men (4th overall), setting a female record time that was very close to last year’s male record! We’ll be back next year for sure.