British SUP Club Championships 2015
Now in it's third year and attracting returning and new clubs, along with new disciplines this event was always going to be one to remember.
I first became involved with this event when Simon Frost from Bray Lake had the inspired idea of running an SUP event at Eton Dorney, the Olympic Rowing lake, after the opportunity had presented itself.
We wanted to run something a little bit different and a Club Championships seemed to fit well with all the great activity that had been happening across all corners of the UK. We wanted to come up with a format that favoured those clubs with a great range of paddlers in their clubs. From elite to novice and juniors it should all count towards answering the question who is the UK no 1.
2013 was a Blockbuster with BaySUP taking the title one point ahead of Waterborn and then Sussex SUP Club beating Bray Lake into third also by one point.
2014 saw BaySUP again clinch the top spot with Bray Lake in second and this time new kid’s on the block Wet n’ Dry took third narrowly ahead of Hove Lagoon.
2015 saw the addition of a Junior Club title, XL team racing and SUP Polo. There would be inaugural champions in these events but would BaySUP take a third year in a row?
To make 2015 even more interesting three new clubs signed up to compete Jersey Paddle Club, St Ives Bay SUP Club and Hayling Island Paddle Sports Club. Waterborn who had had a year away in 2014 were back and many club’s entries had grown.
Check out the SupBoarder Magazine Article on the Runner’s and Riders in their 2015 preview.
When the team arrived Saturday morning they were met with perfect glass on the hallowed Dorney Reach. After the briefing it was the novice race that was first to go. First off would be the men and then a minute later the women for a 5km race on non race boards.
With points allocated based on the number of people within a category the novice race was always going to be key. The men’s event had the largest entry of any category and the women’s was also one of the biggest.
Claire Brinsmead and Beth McLauchin of Wet n’ Dry had topped the first two runs of the Women’s event with Bray Lake’s Gill Strange coming third whilst the new clubs claimed the men’s with Tim Axford (JPC) taking the win over Steven Roberts from Hayling Paddle Sports Club.
Every club apart from Suffolk and St Ives had points on the board with Wet n Dry and Bray Lake taking an early lead with almost full score sheets (top 8 results to count for the overall).
Whilst the Novices were on the track however the Juniors were getting stuck in to their first race of the day. With 20 juniors in the U10, U12, U15 and U16 classes they were always going to have a big impact on points. Clearly inspired from his dad in the Novice race Sam Axford took the overall win and U15 lead. Bradley Jones took the lead in the U16 class with Jack Plume going all out to take the U10 lead.
After a paddle outlet by Jay Manning in remembrance of Andreas Pombo who sadly lost his life paddling in the states over the weekend the race boards took to the water.
Race classes were split across, Men’s, Women’s 12’6, 14′ and Inflatable classes. Non inflatable boards were also racing in age groups so there were plenty of titles, podiums and points up for grabs.
There was great racing in all fleets. In The men’s Ben Payne from Bray Lake took line honours. Ben’s win had put Bray in the lead overall but then Jersey Paddle Club filled the rest of the podium to start pulling things back.
Andre le Geyt by coming second had won the masters event, with BaySUP’s Mark Slater in 2nd and Bray Lake’s Carl Thomas in third.
In the 12’6″ event is was a battle of the new clubs to the event where Ollie Shilston from St Ives Bay took top spot ahead of Aaron Rowe and Hove Lagoon’s Robin Williams. BaySUP weren’t out yet though with Andy Joyce winning the masters, and Mo Guy getting a 4th in the Open age group. Suffolk started to make an impression here as well with Jon Smith getting second in his age group, and Jamie Harman scored some solid points for Wet n Dry in the competitive field.
In the Ladies and inflatable classes was where Waterborn started to strengthen their bid for a podium spot.
Marie Buchanan took line honours in the 12’6″ class, whilst an incredible Elle Veale took second over the line and was the fastest female U21 and 2nd fastest overall at only 14. Kerry Baker added to the points for St Ives Bay winning the open class and Sam Barfield also topped the podium.
Jersey Paddle Club took another top spot in the Ladies 14′ with Waterborn, Bray and Suffolk all getting podium places here.
Then came the ISUPS, a new category this year and they certainly made an impact. Waterborn took both the wins in the men’s events. With Crispin Jones and Paul Simmons. It was another family affair as Jocelyn Jones made it a triple winning the ladies 12’6″ class.
Helen Trehane made the small Hove team’s presence felt as she took line honours for the ladies and victory in the 14’ISUP class.
With the 8km race complete, it was over to the juniors who were thrashing it out in a sprint elimination. Here we saw some epic battles and amazing buoy turns.
The Thomas boys showed all the adults how to round a mark with speed and style. Samuel Thomas pushing a rapid Sam Axford close in the final but not quite getting him. Samuel winning the U12 and Sam the U15 event. Lottie Smith in the U12 category managed to get herself into the final of the U15 event and the U10 event was the highlight of the day. The Plume boys having their own amazing family battle round the boys, with younger siblings from the Smith’s and Axfords all doing brilliantly well.
The U16s had their work cut out getting the longer 12’6″ boards round the tight technical course. Bradley Jones holding off the Combined Bray Lake and BaySUP assault.
The Juniors job wasn’t over there, they still had one more technical race before they had a result!
Whilst the Juniors took a breather the SUP Polo got under way. For most this was new experience but you could tell a few had had practice. Waterborn’s A and B team advanced through with St Ives Bay and Bray having good runs through the 19 strong team tournament.
It ended up being an all Waterborn Final with St Ives Bay taking third on the podium.
In the Juniors Bray Lake took their first team title of the day with Hayling and JPC behind, names we were going to see on a later podium.
The XL racing began with heats into finals. A great battle for the last final spot between Wet n Dry and JPC saw JPC loose a member of their team overboard and then get a dead heat with Bray B. In the Final Bray Lake took the win ahead of Waterborn and in an almost replay of the heat Wet n Dry and Bray finished almost dead level with Bray clinching it this time.
Despite crossing the line first in the ladies Waterborn were disqualified due to an incorrect mark rounding leaving the door open for an impressive suffolk team to take the win.
In the mixed category Hove Lagoon looked sublime from start to finish with no one troubling their we’ll oiled rhythm. Waterborn picked up another 2nd with St Ives in third.
It was now time for the overalls. Larger teams could have their pick of the points whereas teams smaller than 8 had to count a few zeros, and it was close across the board. Wet n dry couldn’t quite hold on to their 3rd from last year as Bray Lake just like the team sprints pipped them to third. Within reach but just ahead were Jersey Paddle Club who used all their paddlers point to take an impressive 2nd. This time in first place after a year away were a much deserving Waterborn.
In the Juniors it was the top three results to count. This time Hayling Paddle Sports Club took a well deserved win with Bray Lake in second and Jersey Paddle Club in third. Only 2 points separating all of them.
All the teams did an admiral job and gave it their all. Whether they were new competitors or seasoned veterans there was a great camaraderie during the day and some amazing team and individual efforts.
I can’t wait till next year.
A big thank you to Starboard, Red Paddle Co, Fanatic for sponsoring the event.
Also Pure Recharge, Cafe 2 Go and Fat Stick for their support.
A huge thank you has to to go to Simon and his team from Bray Lake who volunteer their time to make this event run and make the entire operation as smooth as possible. They are a great club and delivered a fantastic event yet again.