SUP Gower-The 10th and last stage of the UK SUP Club’s series.
My family and I had got to Port Eynon on the Thursday before, for a little holiday as we had time and had been to this lovely Gower spot before. Fun bit of camping with a little paddle training was had and started to see some of the other racers arrive on Friday afternoon.
Even though I was physically prepared for this race, my mind wasn’t filled with the focus and desire for peak performance.
I think it was due to the way the series points system worked meant that if Aaron Rowe came to Gower and completed the race in any position, he’d jump up to 3rd overall and I’d go to 4th. If by some miracle (or mechanical breakdown:-)) he didn’t race, I’d keep my 3rd. I didn’t need to race to affect this; all I could positively do was improve my series points by drop one of my 5th places earlier in the season if I got a 4th or better.
Caught up with the rest of the Tushingham (Starboard UK) team Friday evening, while we chatting, Pete Kosinski said that Aaron wasn’t coming!
Nooooooooooooo way! You’re BSing me, the miracle had occurred!!! My heart raced, but put it in check; you never can be certain and wait until the race is finished before getting too excited. Always thought he’d definitely do this one. Went to bed with the possibilities whirring in my head of what could happen.
Day dawned and couldn’t relax, I just keep myself busy with cooking breakfast, eating, tidying, stretching……..Anything to keep busy!! Conditions were flat with an offshore so went down to the race area with my flat water board with an hour to spare. Whilst playing with the little ones in the sand, caught up with Ryan. Saw he had his Ace out and he said he’d noticed that further out on the course there was chop and white caps, the Ace excels in these conditions. Right! Back to the van and got mine as well; having a choice of boards can lead to difficult decisions sometimes.
Had a good warm up and got ready on the line. It 6.7km, 3 times round a buoy circuit with a beach run to start and finish. Found a position behind the first line, no point in crashing into people trying to get to boards! Good bit of banter before the go with Simon Frost, Mo, Pete and others. Still feel mentally quite average, not really fired up.
Horn sounds, we’re off! Get the board and nice clean entry into the water, quick start with a few wobbles due to the churned water from the other paddlers. After about 100meters or so, lead guys starting to form into a loose line with me in 6-7th. Round the first buoy, onto the second with a stiff head wind, pulling in one guy before the buoy gate.
Bit of confusion ahead with the lead 2 guys, we were supposed to go through the middle of the gate but they went round the outside of both. No real drama, but I went through the middle wondering if I was wrong and they were right! This pondering disappeared quick as we turned into the long downwind leg, in 6th. Spent the whole leg trying to get round Mo and Simon, I decided to get out of their draft and focus on trying to ride the bumps and not their wakes.
Now my mind was on the race! At the turn they didn’t compensate for the tail wind and ended up going wide, I ducked inside tighter and shot off on the cross wind leg. Managed to start to leave them behind and got onto the tail of my Starboard team mate, Pete Kosinski, who was in second. After the turn we had an upwind leg and I just drafted Pete to conserve strength, I was solidly in 3rd and we were leaving the rest of the pack behind! Took the 2nd downwind leg and on the crosswind found that I was starting to pass Pete and led the upwind leg from him…….2nd!
But not for long, found out later at this time, his back was tightening up and he was struggling. He eventually loosened up and started to overtake me on the downwind and pulled into a decent lead from there. Ollie was 1st and miles ahead, but I watched him to see where he was going, so I didn’t make mistakes on the final lap. Kept chasing Pete and Ollie to keep my position solid, but couldn’t go any faster without risking fatigue that could slow me down.
Round the last buoy and heading for the line, Pete round 20 seconds ahead and no-one anywhere close behind. Hit the beach and ran towards the line smiling. Yesssssssssssssssssss! I’d done it, on this race podium in a well-deserved 3rd, improved my points and no Aaron in the race. I’d kept my 3rd overall!!
Ended up being better than I ever expected!
Cheers SUP Gower and their friends and partners for a great event and after party:-)
Thanks once again to my sponsors for helping so much in the achievement of my dreams: Super Vitality sports nutrition, Starboard SUP UK and Surf Steps, SUP and Surf.
Much Love to my family and friends too for supporting me in this quest xxx