On Saturday I lined up for my first ever SUP race. Hosted by Blue Chip at Thames Sailing club, I was entered in to the 6 mile N1sco race class. The N1sco race was 6 miles however there were also 10 and 2 mile races happening on the day.
Neil from Docklands SUP club had also entered in to the N1sco fleet race and it was good to have a friendly face there. He also loaned me a paddle for day which was much appreciated. As, you know how the saying goes, I would definately have been up s**t creek without a paddle.
After registering and collecting our race numbers, it was time to inflate the boards. Luckily we ran in to Mark from the Peak District who, after quick introductions, kindly loaned us his electric pump which saved on our energy! (Thanks Mark)
The race briefing went by in a blur and I’m not sure how much I took in. Soon the water was buzzing as racers started to launch their boards and hear out to the start line. The race started out on the water, with all entrants out on their boards before staggered category starts.
The N1sco race was the second to set off down the course. After a nervous wait on the water which included confusement (I think I’ve just invented a new word) over what way the race started, we were soon off!
Everyone at the start line was really friendly and I was given the advice to stay back from the charge start as the water would be choppy- which was really helpful as a beginner. The water was really churned up as everyone powered off at the start.
I was soon paddling steady and was lucky enough to get chatting to another N1sco racer, also called Amanda. It was really nice to meet another friendly face and to share our nerves!
I had trouble staying in a rhythm and one by one the N1sco racers headed off in to the distance as I tried (and failed) to keep up. I was feeling the effect of having no breakfast and also the heat. I abandoned any hope of keeping up with the other paddlers and instead focused on enjoying the paddle. It’s a beautiful part of the Thames, and I did get a little distracted by Hampton Court Palace as we paddled along. I’ve seen a lot more of London since I started paddleboarding and can’t wait to explore other places too.
This was only the second time I’d been out on the Naish One board and I’m still getting used to the feel of it. It’s lovely to paddle on but feels much less stable than the hard surf style boards that I have been using up until now.
The water was busy with tourist boats and rowing clubs which created quite a lot of wash. There were times when found it difficult to balance but I’m pleased that I managed all 6 miles on my feet and without falling in!
I’ve never paddled 6 miles straight before and did find it a challenge. But I like a challenge and now I have a time to beat for next year. As you can see I was really happy to cross the finish line. And although I came last in the race with a time of 2 hours and 9 minutes, I am still really pleased with the achievement.
It was a brilliant day and I met some great people who I hope to see at other races throughout the year.
To anyone who is thinking of trying a SUP race, give it a go! The worst thing is that you come last- well I did that and let me tell you, it’s not that bad! It was a great day and lots of fun, I can’t wait to enter more races and hopefully start to see an improvement.
The Naish N1sco races are a really good way for beginners to get in to SUP racing. The next race I’ve entered is the Naish One Inlands again at Thames Sailing Club. There are a number of Naish One boards to hire for people who want to enter and don’t have a board. You can sign up here:
UK SUP Club also run lots of races, including BOTT, which I would also recommend entering. I will be entering their next race in Poole. You don’t have to have a Naish One to sign up to these races are there are different categories. For more information have a look on the UK SUP Club website.
Hope to see you at future events!