Stage 3 of the series was up in the Midlands hosted by Central sup. These guys have been working tirelessly for the last 2 years growing inland sup. This is the furthest north there has been a race and was great to have them in the series to spread things further afield the the south coast!
The race was to be held at the waterski centre so a flat lake but narrow so a fairly technical course for a distance race with 24 buoy turns over 10kms.
We awoke to perfect conditions, sunshine and virtually no wind. The guys had huge course marked out early and gave a excellent briefing of the format for the day.
A with all of the series races we separated out the classes for the starts which definitely helped with another fully subscribed event of 75 paddlers. I was up in 14′ me going first. My strategy was simple, we had a 1km drag down to the end of the lake for the first turn. I knew Ryan James and Ben Payne would be going hard and I wanted to get ahead of them both if possible. Counting down to the start I was trying to get the start line organised, one side were creeping past the line, my attention went to them for a second trying to get them to hold up but I missed the countdown and the vital firsts couple of strokes.
I still got a good start but had to work hard to get out in clear water, Ryan to my left, Ben way over to my right. At out 500m in everyone was still very very close. Ryan just pulled ahead of me and I pulled just ahead of Ben. We all tucked into a draft train and were now to tail and the first turn but already a few lengths ahead of the other guys.
I got a great first turn and almost swung round alongside Ryan. He powered down and assumed the lead as we headed back down the lake for a backside turn.
Concentrating a bit too much on keep Ben at bay behind I turned a little late and ran wide, Ben sneaking round inside so I dropped into the train and my strategy changed to sit here and see if Ben would do the work.
Ryan pulled away from us and on the second lap another tiny mistake on a turn allowed Ben to break away & boy did he go for it to get some space (fair play!)
The gaps stayed the same for lap 3 with the following pack a good safe distance behind now. We were catching the other classes now so traffic became a factor. Ben got held up around the start of the last lap and that allowed me to make back about 20 seconds, although I then hit the same traffic and lost a bit too.
We crossed the line, Ryan with about 1.30 over Ben and Ben just under a minute ahead of me.
It was a close race and for a distance race surprisingly dictated by turns.
The 12’6 guys had a brilliant finish with a sprint to the line from Pete Kosinski, sonny and Damo. Pete missing a turn, sonny falling in and Damo sneaking through to take the win!
The central sup race also feature de first kids sup race in the series which was absolutely fantastic. These guys and girls are the future of the sport in our country and need all the support and help we can give to ensure the longevity of sup in the uk. At UK SUP Clubs we are already working of a template format of kids racing to build into next year, we’ll be trialling the format at BaySUPs survivor race this year!
Here’s a couple of great videos from the day including the kids race.