Welsh Surfing Federation SUP Nationals 2016 – Langland Bay, Swansea
The WSF Sup Nationals started the 2016 SUP competitive season off with a blast.
A hardy and determined crew of paddlers braved the cold and challenging conditions to compete in Surf and Technical disciplines.
Contest director Craig Burrows made a good call in delaying the surf until 10am allowing the swell to fill in a little and start to cover the ‘Reef”, a notorious A-frame reef break in the heart of Langland bay.
Competitors had to contend with a steady cross onshore chop, giving conditions that would not normally be associated with SUP.
The wave featured a very sucky takeoff followed by mellow walls to surf, giving the surfers plenty think about and work with
The Two men’s semi finals were both very closely fought, with surfers opting for larger boards for stability and sacrificing a little bit of performance as a result.
Local knowledge played a big part in the results, and those who took time to have a warm-up surf reaped the benefits..
Judges had a hard time scoring with so many waves being caught and a varying number of styles on display: smooth long carves, aggressive tail slides, and everything in between..
The Top three remained in the running for the entire heat, with barely any points between them. With over 30 waves ridden in the final, it was always going to be tough to call.
It finished up with less than a point between the top three, and any little mistake made, was enough to alter the result.
The final standings at the end of the 25 minute heat:
1st Chris Griffiths
2nd Ollie Laddiman
3rd Jim Richardson
4th Martin Harris
The Womens SUP surf, was an unbelievably close affair. All ladies had a wave straight from the get go, and this set the tone for the final. A very high standard from all: powerful turns and very late drops.
All of the competitors would have been at home in the mens final, showing that the Welsh ladies
division is pushing the performance level of SUP surfing in not only Wales, but the UK.
When asked what it was like out there: Abi Barker Smith: “Conditions were challenging as it was so windy, it was so hard to stay standing for long periods”
The final standings for the Women’s Sup surf final:
1st Abi Barker Smith
2nd Mi Richardson
3rd Kath Jones
4th Kerry Baker
Tech Prone, and SUP.
With the Surf element successfully completed it was now over to the Tech race course.
Event organisers did their very best to re create an ISA Worlds tech course, challenging the athletes to a newer level.
This entailed a beach start, through shoulder high surf, an M shaped 1.6km course, bringing the competitors back through the surf line, back to the beach. Followed by leaving their boards, and adding a beach run element. Meanwhile board caddies carried kit from the start of the beach run course to the end.
The Board caddie element, kept the spectators busy and great to see the competitors up close on every lap.
It was a frantic scene with board caddies hurrying along the shoreline with boards under arm, dropping phones, dragging leashes, supporters screaming.
Mens and Womens, Prone and Sup went out together, staggered appropriately
In the Mens Chris Vaughan struck out in the lead (not without incident, as he along with others got caught by a set right off the start), he paddled hard to maintain, and stretch his lead over the fleet.
Jim Richardson put in a sterling effort and held a solid second place on an Isup… (no easy feat).
The final positions for the SUP Tech race
1st Chris Vaughan, 17.25
2nd Jim Richardson
3rd Sean Smith, 21.15
4th Robert Redman, 22.55
The Women’s division was a strong fleet, again, showing that the Welsh ladies are leading the charge in SUP.
The average lap time was about 8 mins. With the wind now picking up a little, and some rain to dampen everyone down a little.
Like the surfing division, the ladies race was very close, and the girls did battle to the very end. Like the men, they also suffered a tough time getting through the waves on occasions, with sneaky set waves appearing at unannounced.
It came down to a strong performance from Mi Richardson who managed to nearly put a minute on her next competitor, to take first place. 2nd and 3rd position was a nail biter as both Kerry Baker and Beth Richardson came to the beach for the final time on the same wave! But as they reached the shore it was Beth who got away cleanly onto the sand, and after the final dash for the line, took second place only 8 seconds ahead..
Making it a Mother and Daughter 1 and 2 for the Richardson family.
The final result:
1st Mi Richardson, 22.34
2nd Beth Richardson, 23.25
3rd Kerry Baker,23.36
4th Emily King, 26.20
The prone paddle event also took place, and despite a low turn-out Tomy Turner put in a strong effort and came home with a very respectable time of: 19.22.
The WSF would like to thank all the people who came out to compete and support our growing sport.
Special thanks go out to ION and Fanatic SUP, for all their support and prizes for the competitors.
Guts Surf Shop for creating the special edition event t-shirts, which we all now wear with pride.
The Sup Hut and Gower SUP, for the kind loan of the race course equipment.
Mclays Print digital and mail.
All the event staff (behind the scenes and on the day) and judges who gave up their Sunday to make this happen.
Swansea Council for agreeing to make this event happen and all the spectators who stayed through the rain, cheering on our surfers and racers.
All photos by kind permission of Sophie Krawec