Saturday was the first in a series of ocean races held around the south-west. Our ethos is stripped back SUP’ing fun, fast racing, all vs. all (any board length, design or construction) but importantly to continue to develop the growth of the sport from grassroots up. Proceeds from various events, when organised by the host club, will be used to purchase equipment for junior club paddlers at the end of the season.
The scene was quintessentially classic summertime, with soaring temperatures and a relaxed friendly atmosphere everyone was eager to get on with the ‘Battle of the Paddle’ race format – short, fast with tight turns close to shore with summer swells throwing in the odd curve ball every now and then. Unfortunately, the curveball was not one we were expecting – zero swell! Much to the disappointment of the surfers earlier in the day contesting the Cornwall Classic SUP event organised by Jason Sawyer.
Combining both surfing and racing together at Gwithian will prove to be a winner for the future and has all the hallmarks of a legendary event said Ollie Shilston who along with Damian Warner came up with the concept of creating a regional ocean-based SUP series from which the Sea Monkeys series was spawned. The high cliffs provided a great viewing point to watch the surfing all day and with a high tide, spectators were able to follow the race directly over the competitors almost out to the turn buoys.
With three turns in a ‘V’ shape and a short but painful run transition kept all the action close to shore for the spectators. In the absence of any swell, curveballs were thrown by Sam Rose and gang trailing the new four-person giant SUP – fast in a straight line not so good at pivot turns!
Ollie Shilston lead from the start and showed everyone why he achieved an incredible 19th place at Lost Mills (Germany) part of the Euro Tour; possibly one of the biggest races of the year in Europe. Meanwhile the remaining mortals were dicing it out between themselves, giant SUP’s hogging the turns, Damo attempting to unceremoniously provide Glenn Eldridge with a third leg at every turn only to breeze past at the finish. Paul Simmons lightening start of the beach putting the cat among the pigeons and Marie keeping the boys honest all of the way round.
What a great start to the series – sun, a good turn out and plenty of light-hearted banter to keep everyone going for a while.