Paddlesports Racers Association – Summer Sprint Series – OC1

Through the cold bleak winter Ryan James & I attended a fantastic single blade sprints series organised by PaddleSports Racers. We both missed the first two events but cleaned up taking 1st’s & 2nd’s throughout the rest of the series.

Due to the success of the winter series PSRA put on a one off big summer event which happened this weekend just gone.

As I’m currently out of SUP racing through injury I took the chance to attend the summer event. It was an action packed day of racing at Silverwing Lake near Heathrow.

Formats included:

  • 2.3k time trial distance race
  • 500m sprint knockout tournament
  • 80M kind of sprints knockout tournament
  • V3 sprint knockouts
  • V1 fun race
  • BBQ!
Silverwing lake (before the wind got up)
Silverwing lake (before the wind got up)

Having picked up my brand new OC1 from Imiq Paddlesports late Thursday evening I was keen to put it to the test. I managed to squeeze in a blessing for the canoe after work Friday & a light paddle to get the feel of it. The Scorpius XS I have chosen is super lightweight, narrow, tippy but fast! Designed my the legendary Kai Bartlett it’s got great creds, and although it’s an ocean canoe at heart, due to a fairly low rockerline it’s damn quick on the flats too.

Hanging out with 'Wenners'
Hanging out with ‘Wenners’

2.3k Time Trial
First race of the day was the 2.3k. They had extended the course slightly from the winder series. Basically all paddlers are seeded with fastest starting last. We depart at 10 second intervals for 2 laps of the lake. Although I won the last event I was seeded 2nd to last with top C1 paddlers Tom Fryer ahead & Mike Thornton behind. I had great battles with both these guys all winter so knew I had my work cut out. When chatting about my new canoe with Tom prior to the race, he cheekily said ‘like you’ll be getting close enough to me for me to hear that’ (about the sound of the Ama tapping the water.)

As the starter shouted GO I floored it… the super light XS doing it’s thing I had caught Tom by the first bouy! We were both as shocked as each other! I tried a cheeky move up the inside but he wasn’t letting me in, I had to stop paddling & actually fly the Ama over the top of the bouy! I put it down straight after & charged around the outside of Tom, taking him out with relative ease… I caught OCUK top man Brian Denholm & managed to dispatch him too round the outside. I caught another couple of paddlers (Jon & Tim) who were battling close & thought I’d be polite & go around the outside of both of them. Being turned out to be a big mistake… Tim tapped the back of Jons V1 & caused him to jackknife right across my bow… brand new carbon & had to try & stop, my Ama clattering Tims O1. He then started paddling like a crazed man, smashing my carbon Ama…this was not good, I was about 40 seconds ahead of these guys! I managed to power out of it… nervous of what the state of my new canoe would be after. I was also rather concerned the effect it would have on my position, I think I must have stopped paddling for about 8 seconds, and knew Mike & Tom would be bearing back down on me. I dug deep & emptied the tank to try & make the time back. As I crossed the finish I looked back & knew I had it in the bag. Mike was 15 seconds back.

The results came good – 1st place & a new course record (even with the extra long course & the traffic!)

500m Sprint Tournament
This is a brutal event. A tough distance & lots of heats. My first two heats went well, getting through & being able to ease off about half way. On my second heat I set the fastest time of any heat of the day & I cruised the last bit 🙂
heat three was a tough draw but I made it though although I definitely had to work a bit harder than I wanted.
Then came the final. I had been checking out the competition & I was up against Paralymic World Champing V1 paddler Pat Mahoney. This guy is a legendary paddler. Incredibly composed, smooth and powerful. I have to admit I was a little worried. Brian Denholm from OCUK had sneaked in through the repêchage with a fast time, & paddling a V1 he’s always dangerous. At the start Tim got a cracker & had half a boat length but I knew he was tired & that gave me confidence. I kept calm, kept up the stroke rate & passed him about a third in. I held the lead all the way but Pat was closing in the final stretch, I could hear him really really going for it which was at least good to know I’d made him work. I took the win with 2-3 seconds to spare so not too bad. Another 1st place in the bag.

Off to a nice lead in the final of 500's
Off to a nice lead in the final of 500’s
just about squeaking the win in the 500's final
just about squeaking the win in the 500’s final


80m King of sprints
This was a new event for me. Super super fast, back to back winner stays on sprints. Due to how I was seeded I drew a bit of a short straw as whoever I raced would have 1 heat rest in-between & I’d end up going back to back… Still I manned up & smashed through the first 3 heats into the final against top female C1 paddler Sam. She had destroyed the rest of the field & I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I got a great start & had a couple of meters all the way to about 75m point. But I was really tired… I had paddled all heats back to back on my stronger side & I really, really needed to switch but the time lost on changing was too much to risk. We both dug for the finish but the powerful C1 stroke pulled her literally inches ahead. I thought she had it, she thought I had it, one half of the finish line thought I had it & the other Sam – it was soooo close but the event organisers decision is final & Sam got the win. I’ve not seen the photos of the finish line but damn it was super tight.

Heat 1 80's... in the bag
Heat 1 80’s… in the bag
Heat 1 80's... clean getaway
Heat 1 80’s… clean getaway
80's semi - got a bit of work to do here but I got the win
80’s semi – got a bit of work to do here but I got the win
80's semi, taking the win from Tim
80’s semi, taking the win from Tim
The final of 80's... one side of the finish thought I had it, the other thought Sam had it... still yet to see a photo showing the finishing line :) It was VERY close!
The final of 80’s… one side of the finish thought I had it, the other thought Sam had it… still yet to see a photo showing the finishing line 🙂 It was VERY close!

Next up was V3 sprints. A 500m timed course. I got a grea crew with Mike Thornton & his partner Shireen. Shireen had steered before so we put her at the back, me as stroke & Mike as the engine room. We went out for a bit of practice & it felt great. We did two runs in all as we got to the final but lost out by 1/4 of a second at the finish as our angle to the line meant Shireen had to put one last stab in to steer us home & the resistance jsut let the other guys creep ahead. It was brilliant fun & a great canoe to paddle. We were dead pleased with our result as the winning team was from PaddleSports themselves who paddle together (and that canoe) all the time. With a bit more practice as a three I think we’d have taken that too.

V'aa 3 man.
V’aa 3 man.

There were some V1 fun races at the end but I was done… it was time for a burger!

2.3k – 1st

500m – 1st

80m – 2nd

V3 500’s – 2nd

HUGE thanks to Richard Parrot & all the guys at Silverwing for a fantastic event. As always amazing bunch of people paddling all sorts of craft just having some fun on the water.

Thanks to IMIQ Paddlesports & ZRE for the fastest OC1 & paddle combo going 🙂
Thanks to Bomber & ChiDrinks for your continued support

Photo credits to John Gailee