The start line of The Celtic Cup main event on Saturday morning proved to be a spectacle with over 70 competitors lined up on SUP’s, Ski’s, paddleboards OC1’s and OC2’s.
The SUP’s kicked off with local paddler Glenn Eldridge leading the charge around the distance course but only a couple of boat lengths separated the top five paddlers. With less than 1000m remaining, unable to hold a late surge by 18 year old and developing star Blue Ewer, Glenn relinquished the lead for 3rd with the first five finishing SUP’s within 30 seconds of each other. SUP Junkie, covering the event from the media boat were euphoric “without doubt this was the best race of the year, we watched those guys put the hammer down all the way round, leads were changing, local knowledge and boat wakes all came into play but none of them backed down, right to the line – it was epic”.
The women’s race set a high standard, with a near 50/50 split between the number of female and male competitors – Ginnie Betts, in the absence of injured paddling legend Marie Buchanan, had a slightly easier ride of things to take out the distance course on the day – but with another youngster, eighteen year old Holly Pye chasing for second and rising prone paddler Kezia Elliott, only fifteen, saw off many of the male SUP paddlers to win the prone division.
The single and double ocean canoes (OC) also put on a good show with some heated competition – in total we had nearly 20 spread across the divisions with a strong female showing meaning that there was actually more women than men. With all bar Betys and Jocelyn, taking on the inside course racing was always going to be tight. However, it was the Paddle Sports duo of Lisa and Maggie who pulled away with a two minute lead to finish ahead. Sam Rutt swapped her SUP paddle for an outrigger paddle proving she still has gas in the tank in a tough fought battle with Lynne, winning with only a 24 second lead closely followed by Rhiannon from Bournemouth Outrigger Club. The Men’s race followed suit this time it was the turn of Ocean Sports paddler Steve Carter to try to reign in Bournemouth OC1 paddler and OC6 steerer Adam Stilling. Keeping things tight Steve held a close second to Adam who had clearly dialled in the course in preparation for steering the big boat for BOC the next day – in the end unable to real in Adam in the flattening conditions Adam held on with 27 seconds to spare over Steve. Not to be out done by Sam Rutts versatility switching between SUP and OC Ben Pye joined in with an admirable attempt in spite of three Huli’s!
Ocean ski numbers were markedly down this year with the duo of Wells and Bairds who recently raised nearly ten thousand pounds for a local charity completing this years Celtic Crossing, turned in an admirable performance in their first race, bested only by paddling stalwarts Lark and Lawrence finishing just one minute ahead.
Later in the day it was the turn of the local female paddlers to dominate the National event in the fast and furious technical race, Ginnie sandwiched in second place between club paddlers Tarryn Brown, who dominated in first, show casing her superior ocean skills followed by another rising youth from the Ocean Sports Club, Elle Veale (18), who has also qualified for the National team at this year’s world championships.
More Ocean Sports paddlers were to follow with thirteen year old froth dog Marley who turned in possibly one of the biggest achievements of the day in his first ever paddle board race, completing the 5km challenge race in first (ahead of the adult field) and backing up for a solid second behind Charlie Eldridge (13) in the technical. Not to miss out younger sibling, Tilly Eldridge, stormed home in the technical to win the youth event.
One of the real success of these events however, was getting nearly twenty youngsters to participate in the technical challenge – this was a real spectacle for the adults to watch and for the youngsters themselves; “many of these youngsters (aged between 10 and 11yrs) had only recently joined Ocean Sports Community Club, when even going out of their depth was a challenge, so completing the 1000m shore line course was a real testament to their courage and progression” said Glenn.
Action finished on Sunday with the spectacular OC6’s competing over the long course. With the newly formed National Outrigger Series local crews were keen to showcase their skills paddling on the open ocean.
3 Boats lined up on the overcast morning for the long course. Arguably the strongest crew in the country from Bournemouth took on newbie Ocean Sports men as well as the Royal Canoe club all male crew. Keen to test their metal against the renowned Bournemouth outfit Ocean Sports went toe to toe for the first 4k with neither boat giving ground, once around the island and into open ocean the Ocean Sports crew opened a lead which was never to be closed. With such a high tempo race it was clear how hard the pace was with seat number three of the Bournemouth crew having to be ejected in the closing stages due to exhaustion.
Racing, along with the temperature was hot from the start in the second event. This time 5 crews lined up for the second course and all five crews jostled within a minute of each other for the majority of the race. The Royal Canoe club, from London, set the pace early, chased hard by mixed and ladies Ocean Sports crews, Bournemouth and Milton Keynes outrigger clubs. In spite of only learning to steer the canoe earlier this year Hattie Davies’ local knowledge was unable to pay off, once in the lead the Royal steerer, threaded the ‘Island’ with an amazing line and outstanding skill. Chasing hard, kamikaze Pete steering the Ocean Sports mixed crew, pretty much had to put trainers on his crews paddles as they skimmed the coast, literally threading the eye of a needle between emerging rocks in their six man outrigger, sparing only millimetres between rock and gel coat. Ground was made on the strong Royal crew, but in the end proved to be too tough a nut to crack and took 1st place.
In total, over a hundred paddlers attended the St. Ives Bay Celtic Cup across six man outrigger canoes, single and double skis and OC’s, prone and SUP, no other race in the UK fields such a diverse range of craft. Having launched the Celtic Cup three years ago to host the Euro Tour, the UK’s first international SUP event, it looks like the Celtic Cup is now here to stay. “Our goal is to continue to host a friendly and inclusive event where we get to race our craft where they are meant to be, on the ocean. Importantly, we want to catalyse our local paddling community and continue to grow the sport and engagement with our youth. Watch out for next year, it promises to be bigger and better” said race director.
Finally a huge thank you must be given to all those who volunteered to help run the event along with our sponsors, Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI), Penzance Gin and Sea Buck tonic water, Ebb Flow Cornwall, Outrigged UK and Kona Brewing Company