2017 N1SCO Championship, Round 1- Lake Bala
So here it is my first race I was feeling slightly nervous, at the same time excited as I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Now I know it’s not the winning that counts and to just have fun but let’s face it everyone has that competitive side and want to give it their all.
Once we were organised everything was explained clearly so we all knew what’s what and then we had time to mingle. This is what I love about the SUP community everyone seems so friendly. There were pumps being lent out left right and centre and tips to be shared all round. Even pros like Alex Tobutt were very helpful and full of tips and pointers for us first time racers.
The sprint (100m)
Here we go my first even 10+ men on N1sco boards all in a tight line getting ready for the sprint 100m around a buoy and back. I didn’t feel nervous about the race but it was intimidating as I could see the carnage that was about to happen.
Watch a video of the start here: https://vimeo.com/212506048
At the start marker I struggled to get in my first dig on my best side to set me off which unfortunately meant a great deal in sprint racing. A consequence of the bad start meant me I was stuck behind the pack and even with a good turn I still come in second from last.
All in all, even with a poor result it was a great experience to my introduction to my first sprint event.
My tips would be first practice your starts water/beach. Having a good start means you are going to have a good race.
Second tip is practice your turns, start is one thing but if you can’t manoeuvre around the buoy quick enough it could make or break your race.
The endurance 5K (race the train)
The final event was a 5k endurance race from one end of the lake to the other. The event organisers had arranged for us to race the miniature train that runs by lake side to make the end more fun which it did. Miniature train added some humour to the race but the humour eventually fades once you realise the endurance ahead.
As the train tooted its horn to start the race everyone launched into action. This caused a lot of commotion in the water which turned this once calm lake very choppy.
Around the 1k mark things calmed down as the pack thinned and the bumping into one another subsided. It was time to get my head down and paddle on.
I found the 3k mark was the hardest part. Around then the sweat is pouring down and your muscles getting tired. This is when you start to see other racers hit their walls and you start wondering can I keep this pace up for another 2k.
Anyway, I soldiered on to finish my 5k in 36min 17secs, 20th out of 47 and a new personal best my end. I was very chuffed with my result and enjoyed this race a lot.
First thing I would recommend is to try to get into someone’s wake. This is called drafting and it makes a massive difference to your time, you will soon tell the experienced racers from the novices as they all be in a perfect line. This makes the water a lot smoother and offers a wind break affect from the guy infront which makes a lot of difference.
Second thing I found difficult was trying to find a good pace, so what I would recommend is practices your techniques as much as you can and work on your upper body strength to maintain good/fast pace.
I have done a fair few 5k sup sessions but never in this situation. Urge to paddle as hard and fast as you can to keep up with the person in front of you is very strong. However, at the same time you must remember to hold back as this is an endurance race not a sprint.
Once the endurance race finished everyone stayed on the water and waited for other racers to cross finish line cheering them along in the process.
The pros stuck around to offer advise and tips to all the rookies on how to improve their techniques which is a huge bonus.
Overall what an amazing day of SUP, The Naish One is a great board to enjoy and get me through my first ever race. With its good all round speed and balance it even held its own against some of the higher end hard boards. I can highly recommend it as a first-time racer if you are looking for something as a good allrounder.
I met some great people willing to show me new tips and could pass some tips on myself.
The races were hard but fun and they gave me sense of accomplishment for the effort I put in. The event organisers were brilliant, friendly and very helpful. They made all the events seem fun.
The weather was beautiful and location was incredible. Bala is certainly a place worth visiting especially for a sup holiday.
Special thanks to Aga for being my driver, supporter, photographer and very patient girlfriend.
Want to find out more about N1SCO racing!
On Sunday 7th May we will be hosting a Naish n1sco demo day as part of our SUP demo.
The racing is free for all and Alex from Naish will be here along with Max our team rider to help you along the way.
For more info on the n1sco series or the demo venues follow the link below.