Picture the scene: 40 competitors, a 1 mile long course on a 50 acre lake, plenty of SUP boards to choose from (courtesy of Starboard) and five different national titles up for grabs.
The Event: On the 31st March 2012 Bray Lake Watersports had the privilege of hosting the first ever national UK stand up paddleboard finals. Specifically known as the Coke Bottle race series, which comes under the umbrella of the UK Frostbite series, the event aimed to bring together stand up paddleboarding competitors of all levels, from all over the UK. The original idea surrounding the Coke Bottle racing was to develop low key local racing to help grow the sport in pockets throughout the UK. The recent success of the series coupled with the growth of the sport has lead to a healthy level of participation in the flat water racing disciplines. Over the past 12 months local Coke bottle events have been cropping up all over the British Isles, with the aim of working towards the grand finals at Bray Lake Watersports.
The event was a big success with competitors coming from as far a field as Jersey just to race for the day and to soak up the atmosphere. The event fell on the only cloudy day of the month but this didn’t deter any of the national and local competitors.
After all the competitors had registered, had a cup of coffee and selected their board, the first race briefing took place at 10.15.
All classes raced together round the 1 mile course with John Hibbard (Tushingham and Starboard SUP Guru and Frostbite founder) totting up the result.
There was a vast range of ability throughout the field going from some locals who only had a couple of races under their belts to more seasoned athletes at the top of the sport. We had UK and Europe’s top pros, including the likes of Mark Slater and Ryan James, racing along side some of our club members and staff.
After three 1 mile races the results were calculated and broken down into different board classes. At the prize giving the top three racers in each class were given prizes provided by Tushingham and Starboard.
In the Unlimited Class Adam Stilo took the title, with Mark Hatton in second and Bray’s own Simon Hemsley in third.
The 14 foot Class also know as the Pro Class included all the top level racers and was tightly contested. Ryan James ranked number three in Europe took the title, with Mark Slater (top 3 in the UK) coming second. Aaron Rowe from Jersey who also qualifies as a junior had an outstanding performance gaining third in this competitive class.
The 12 foot 6 Class proved to have quite a pool of talent with Tushingham’s own Paul Simmons winning, Pete Holliday second and John Harvey third.
The Junior Class was dominated by Aaron Rowe who cruised to the title. The battle for second place was more of a competitive affair, with Katherine Elston taking second closely followed by Helen White who is normally known for her windsurfing skill. Well done to Helen considering this was her first real competition.
The ladies competition saw local Linz Frost power through to take first in all the races giving her the title followed by Joanne Hamilton-vale in second and Sandra Elston in third.
The day was enjoyed by all, especially the less experienced competitors who were able to brush shoulders with some of the best in the sport. Some great performances from Ben, Frostie and Sam Ross saw them all give the top guys a run for their money.
Thanks to Tushingham, John Hibbard, and everyone for making the trip down, bring on the 2012 racing series and see you all at the finals next year.
Bray Lake local results:
- Simon H
Contributed by: Seb Pape