Saturday 9th July saw 2016’s Naish One UK Championships. Hosted at The Boat That Rocks in Weymouth, this year over 100 competitors signed up to race- the largest fleet so far.
I drove down on Friday night with my husband and managed to get a good night’s sleep at one of the Premier Inns in Weymouth. We had to book quite late and unfortunately didn’t manage to find a hotel for Saturday night which meant a longish drive home after a full day of racing. I will definately make sure I book well in advance for next year!
We were up fairly early and headed off to the Boat That Rocks to register and then took a quick detour to 109 Watersports to pick up my new Naish Kaholo paddle that I’d ordered. After a quick chat with Callum, the owner who forewarned me that it looked like it was going to be a pretty windy day, we headed back down to the main site.
The car park was a few minutes walk from the main site but I decided to save my arms and use the car pump to inflate the board and then carry it round. The car pump was a great investment, so much quicker and easier.
Things were starting to get busy with lots of people setting up their boards. I set my board out and then headed off in search of breakfast. After a bacon sandwich and coffee I was feeling much more human. I was pleased to then bump in to a few familiar faces and have a catch up.
The race briefing soon started and it was clear that it was going to be a big event. Due to the windy conditions some of the long distance course had been changed which might have disappointed some of the more seasoned racers but the promise of extra protection from the wind was a relief to me.
After the briefing, there was enough time for a quick look stop and then everyone started to head out on to the water. It was brilliant to see so many paddlers out, including a number of junior racers.
It was clear as soon as we headed out that it was going to be tough in places during the race due to the wind. I stayed near the back at the start and found a rhythm which I then lost after the first buoy turn. The new paddle made a difference though and although I dropped to my knees for part of the race, I completed most of it standing and didn’t fall in.
I got chatting to another racer on one of the turns. It was her first race and only her second time paddleboarding. I didn’t catch her name but take my hat off to her for sticking with it and doing all of the races. It wasn’t any easy day, especially for such a new beginner.
We had a short break before the sprints which are always great fun. I love the sprint races but again my turns let me down. The men’s races were carnage with a large number of paddlers on each start line. Speed is key but so is getting a good turn in. The weather is getting warmer and I’m determined to practice and nail a pivot turn before the season ends.
Each paddler took part in two sprints heats and then either the wildcard race or the final race. Sprints are always great to watch so I sat out on the board during heats…and got sunburnt legs in the process.
The sprints finished late due to the weather and a rerun of the men’s final. Both finals were close and the photo finishes were studied in detail to determine the winners. I must confess to not feeling like doing the last race of the day, it was later than planned and I’d gotten tired and cold. But I also couldn’t stand the thought of not finishing them all so I lined up for the final race.
It was a 2 lap technical race with lots of buoy turns. I found myself at the back of the pack for the race, again turns just kept letting me down. The wind had picked up again and I was feeling tired. I had enough left in the tank for a sprint finish with the paddler in front of me so I felt like I had put all my effort in.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the prize giving and dinner party but if they were like the rest of the day, I’m sure they were awesome. The live bands that had played through the day were great and the atmosphere was too.
The day was brilliant, exhausting but so much fun. It was nice to see so many paddlers sharing tips with other racers and much less intimidating than some of the other races. I cannot wait till next year’s race- I’ll make sure to book my hotel early so that I can stay for the after party!
Thanks to everyone who volunteered at the event to make it such a success. And also to 109 Watersports for keeping my paddle in store until I made it down to collect it. Another thanks to my husband who hung around and waited on me all day while I raced and made sure I stayed awake for both car trips!