Here we go my first big event, Nationals day has finally arrived. I would like to say I was more prepared for this one but again was walking into my Nationals blind not knowing what to expect and the wind being quite high the nerves were sinking in.
Arrival and Registration
Once we arrived at Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club where the event is being held and the nerves soon vanished and turned to excitement. The sight of Nash banners, Boards and Paddlers all arriving in their dozens pumping up ready for the day ahead. The Bay was sectioned off out of the full force of the wind and tide which meant an ideal place to race.
Registration was quick and easy the team were very helpful at explaining what was about to happen. We were all given a goodie bag, given time to get changed and prepare for the day ahead.
Race 1 mid endurance 1.5k SUPERLAP
Alex briefed the first race as an 3-lap course turning around buoys and sprinting to the next. The super lap enabled you to cut the final corner on one of the three laps of your choice.
The men were then split into 2 groups of 25 odd and lined up on the starting line. I was in the first heat, lined up waiting for the horn to start the race. As soon as the horn went off this once calm bay suddenly turns into a choppy wave pool. 25+ paddles sprint off for the first turn, It was so choppy I even felt my board catch a small wave lol.
After we hit the first corner I played it safe and took it wide to avoid the risk of walling into the cold water early in the day. The pack then started to thin out between the pros storming off ahead and everyone else trailing giving it their all. I decided to save my superlap for the final lap as I knew my stamina would be low and a shorter lap sounded good. I finished around middle of the pack 1-2 off being in the leaders group and landed in the runners up for the second heat.
Ready for what’s to come and warmed up from the first race I was feeling good about this heat and decided to be more tactical. I decided to use my super lap this time on the first lap due to the fact everyone was getting caught up on the corners and it payed off. I jumped straight to the front of the pack leading the group for the first, second and third laps but I knew what was about to occur. Due to me playing it safe on the corners and not taking using the step back turn technique I lost some ground on my lead. Once I got to the final corner the two behind me used their super laps to take over and I came in 3rd. I still think using the super lap on my first lap was the best call as this gave me the space to take time on my corners a clear path on the straights.
Next up were the sprints (my least favourite of all events) now it’s not because there is anything wrong with sprints they are just my Achilles heal, they are great fun. I find that most of technique goes out the window and everything goes into chaos.
My first heat started off not too bad, I was going steady middle of the pack my turn went well then whilst sprinting for the finish disaster struck. I was giving it my all and didn’t account for the wind and lost my balance going straight over the nose of the board to throw it all away.
My second heat arrived cold, wet and not feeling it I had a better race and finished towards the back of the pack but at least I stayed out of the water this time J.
After a well-deserved break for lunch with some down time to explore Emsworth, cram in some carbs and enjoy the juniors races we were ready for the big event.
This was a course outside of the bay now that it was high tide we were hitting to the ocean. With the full force of the wind and sea we had to cut across the bay into a strong headwind. Head down the 2.5k turn then head finishing off downwind. We had 3 safety boats to support us along the way one at front, one at the middle and one at the back because of the strong winds to fight against.
Every one lined up the best they could 57 guys with 40 odd girls behind, all trying to keep in a straight line against the wind waiting for the race to start.
The race finally kicked off and the start was quite a sight, some people fell, others battled to get their paddles in the water the sea exploded with commotion and it all was great fun. Once we got across the bay the pack started to thin out and everyone started the journey up the bay. I was giving it my all I made it to the turn in good time I was still in the top 25 then I suddenly got struck with a sharp pain in my right shoulder. This meant the next 2.5k was one of my biggest challenges in SUP to the point I almost threw in the towel. The wind didn’t help either because it was coming off the land this meant I could only paddle on my left side to keep straight. In the end, I gritted my teeth paddled on through the pain and made it back to finish 27th.
After the endurance, it was time for the sprint finals the best of the best competing for first place was quite a sight. before the final race they had a wildcard race to promote the winner straight into the finals, I wish I could have had a go but after my shoulder problems I knew I was done for the day.
All in all, it was a great day, lots of friendly people, Alex and the girls did a great job organising the whole thing and working out the results, the team behind setting up the courses and managing the equipment were superb. For a newbie at his second race and first Nationals I enjoyed every minute of the day and couldn’t recommend it enough. Even if racing isn’t your thing if you enjoy SUP it’s well worth it just for the experience and a great fun day J
|Position||Name||Mid Distance||Sprint result||Long Distance||Total Points||Master||Veteran||First Comp|
|52||Matt Le Flem||49||58||39||146|
|59||(DNS) Robert Gullan||62||62||62||186|
|59||(DNS) Steve Trott||62||62||62||186|
|59||(DNS) Mark Smith||62||62||62||186|