Blog #31 – EASI life…

With sleet in the air last week and a storm due to hit this week, there’s no denying that winter’s really taking hold now – but our ‘off-season’ is continuing to go from strength to strength. Saturday saw nine of us representing SUPsect over at Alton Water for the Suffolk round of our inaugural regional EASI series, where we came away with five podium finishes. Meanwhile Dunc’s 1-2-1 race coaching sessions are progressing well, and on the social / recreational side of things we’re beginning to think about Christmas next month…

Saturday dawned chilly and drizzly with a fair easterly breeze – but that wasn’t enough to dissuade an amazing 27 racers from around the region from descending on Alton Water in Suffolk for round two of our EASI (East Anglian SUP Initiative) winter race series, hosted by our great friends, Suffolk SUP. With a 9-strong team, SUPsect again made up a third of the startline! Fortunately the weather had totally dried up – and even warmed up a little – in time for the 10am registration, which given the phallic nature of the semi-technical course Neil and Kelvin had devised, was guaranteed to raise a smile! Hilarious as it was, between the laughter Neil did manage to get across to the throng that it was a pretty simple case of turning left at pretty much every yellow buoy, with a right the second time we encountered both orange buoys, before a final hard right and hard left in towards the finish – one lap, 5km. On the startline we encountered a suitably stiff breeze to shoot off into, and straight into his stroke Suffolk supremo Kelvin took an early lead and gradually began to power away on his 14′ SIC. Dunc (SUPsect) found clear water inshore to tuck into second place on his Red Paddle 12’6″ Elite, but again wasn’t able to hold onto a 14′ pace for long so was overhauled by Martin (Norfolk Outdoor) on his 14′ NSP about a kilometre in. Meanwhile Al (SUPsect / Red Paddle 30″) held onto a strong fourth place on the water, with Step-Back Stu (SUPsect / Red Paddle 26″) snapping at his heels the whole way! The wind seemed to increase during the race, making it pretty tough going at times, but the top 5 stayed that way: Kelvin (1st 14′), Martin (2nd 14′), Dunc (1st 12’6″), Al (1st iSUP 28+), then Stu (2nd 12’6″). Next came Frangipani Mike (3rd 12’6″) on his solid Mistral, then Suffolk instructor Neil (3rd 14′ – Infinity) before Andy (SUPsect) arrived on his 12’6″ solid Starboard a few seconds later – having taken a swim off the startline he’d battled back to narrowly beat Frangipani Anni (1st woman – Starboard 14′) home. Next across the line was first Naish N1sco (2nd iSUP 28+) Giles, who our Nick (3rd iSUP, Red Paddle 28″ / SUPsect) was gutted to have been passed by after taking a late swim having been with Neil and Andy for much of the race. A minute later Rich ‘Felix’ (SUPsect) arrived, also a little chilly having been taken out by the crosschop on his new 14′ Red Paddle Elite. Russell (12’6″) separated him from 2nd woman, Suffolk‘s Helen (14’ Naish), Frangipani‘s Victoire (Naish N1sco) was again victorious in the women’s iSUP 28+, very closely followed by Laura (SUPsect) in an impressive 2nd (Red Paddle 30″). It was great to see an almost equal gender balance at this race, with very nearly as many women as men: only Andy (iSUP 28+) and George (12’6″) were left of the men, but separating them were Mary (3rd iSUP 28+ / Frangipani) and SUPer Whale Anna (Yster 30″). Then it was a familiar rematch from the Norfolk leg – as Kate (JP iSUP / SUPsect) again overcame Helen (Red Paddle iSUP / SUPsect) who this time stayed ahead of Wilma (14′ Aqua Inc / Suffolk) … a little later locals Sarah, Emma, Becky and Fiona came home. Find full results here. Of course, the end of the racing wasn’t the end of the day as we’re a sociable bunch at EASI, so we all headed off to The Brantham Bull for beers, prizegiving (Suffolk cyder of course!) and lunch. Thanks again to everyone at Suffolk SUP for another awesome day.

Next on the winter race circuit, no doubt a few of us will be heading back to Windsor for Bray‘s Frostbite series – where race 2 is their ‘night race’: 6pm, Saturday 8th December, more @BrayLakeSUP on Facebook. Then the following Saturday sees the next EASI race when we’re staying pretty local as it’s Frangipani Anni’s turn to host at her new ‘club lake’ at Chigboro Fisheries in Maldon on Saturday 15th December for the third round of our winter race series – entries open later this week, more on the Facebook event. What’s EASI? Well, SUPsect have got together with East Anglia’s other big SUP clubs to form the East Anglian SUP Initiative and run our own regional winter race series. It’s open to everyone from novices to experienced racers with classes to suit various board types, at locations around the region to provide differing racing styles and conditions. We’ll be hosting the fifth and final event in February 2019 and each paddler’s best three results of the five monthly races will count towards an overall ranking – much more on the EASI Facebook page. Dates and provisional venues for the remainder of the series are:
EASI 3 – Saturday 15th December, Chigboro Fishery in Maldon, hosted by Frangipani
EASI 4 – Sunday 20th January 2019, Hunstanton, hosted by Barefoot
EASI 5 – Saturday 23rd February, Hullbridge, hosted by SUPsect

Talking of racing, Dunc’s 1-2-1 race coaching sessions are continuing into winter – and his clients are already upping their speeds, skills and fitness. We had a great second session up at Two Tree last week: breezy but a good blast up to Canvey Way and back, looking at strengthening the stroke and upping cadence plus setting a few benchmarks to hit on the way to endurance racing next season. The week before, another second session up at Mill House on the River Chelmer also focussed on cadence work and set some targets, while a first session down the Ray to Seal Point from Two Tree covered everything from stroke sequencing to turning strategies. If you’re ready to up your game, race coaching is available for £80 per 2-hour session at times, dates and locations to suit this winter – email [email protected] to enquire…

But of course it’s absolutely not all about racing! There are still social paddles going on – put the call out in the SUPsect Forum on Facebook if you want some company. And while mid-week SUP Club is done until spring now, we are planning a return to central Chelmsford for a Xmas SUP Club through the city on Sunday 16th December. Plus we’re game on for a couple of festive get-together drinks nights – Friday 7th December at The Broker in Leigh, then Wednesday 19th December in Old Leigh – where it would be great to see everyone that can make either … or both! Stay tuned to @SUPsect on Facebook for more on all of that. And finally, a reminder if you’re looking for gift ideas this Christmas – we offer £50 paddleboard lesson vouchers that could be the perfect present for any friends or family that want to learn how to SUP. Valid for the whole of next year, the lesson can be booked at any time throughout the summer. We will teach them how to paddle properly, safely and successfully – with an unrivalled stand-up guarantee! More at www.supsect.com/paddleboard-gift-voucher

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