As many will no doubt be aware the BSUPA National SUP Surfing Champs took place this weekend at Watergate Bay,Cornwall, and Loco boss chap, Joe Thwaites, was on hand to witness what went down.
Tez Plavenieks grills Mr T about the event – read on for all the gos.
The trip down was a slow laborious task with torrential rain hampering our progress. We ended up sleeping in a service station car park, Loco style, finishing off the journey Friday in time for some much needed practice.
Did the event deliver for you?
The event had the usual organisational hiccups but nothing unforgivable. The conditions were largely disappointing but without a flexible calendar it comes down to making the most of what you get. The standard had definitely gone up another level this year across the divisions. There was a great competitive atmosphere with a decent bit of social drinking both evenings from the usual reprobates.
Which riders stood out during the comp?
Matt Barker-Smith probably wanted it more than anyone else so he’s a worthy winner but everyone’s favourite ASBO Aaron Rowe was also bringing his skate style trickery hard. And let’s not forget big wave ripper Tom Lowe who was really cooking on gas! Competition veterans Jim Richardson and Gareth Grant were also charging along with Ollie Shilston and new face Glyn Oven. Last year’s champ Andre was firing but he didn’t make it to the finals this year, deciding to change board mid comp.
Holly Bassett and Marie Buchanan were head and shoulders above the rest of the ladies contingent but it was good to see some other girls getting involved and I dare say with comparable practice they’ll be snapping at Holly and Marie’s heals soon enough!
The U16 boys were all firing. Not entirely sure how it was scored as I witnessed some killer moves from Ollie Laddiman and Loco rider Finn Gamblin. Finn is definitely one to watch next year having only been on a SUP five times ahead of the event!
Did you see any moves worthy of note? Who stomped them?
Aaron was attempting air reverses on 2ft dribblers on Friday and landed a couple of nice aerials during the competition. Matt was looking good racing sections and squirting spray all over. Lowey was getting more vertical than anyone else and new kid on the block Glyn Oven was making the nose point back at the pocket probably better than anyone else.
What’s your opinion on the level of UK SUP surfing after being at Watergate?
With the exception of Aaron the event is predominantly contested by 25-40yr olds but even despite this the standard was on ‘burn that shit to the ground’ fire this year considering the crappy conditions. Once the likes of Finn, Louie and Ollie come through the ranks to join forces with Aaron we’ll definitely have the talent to compete with the likes of Kai Lenny. Having extensively watched the ladies event in the Waterman League, Holly could easily compete with those girls given a bit more confidence in the bigger stuff and a few more tricks in her arsenal.
How did Finn get on with his first stab at competition?
Finn competes a fair bit on the UK Surf Grom Scene but this was his first stab at SUP so he wasn’t entirely sure how it would go. For me he was putting some fluid carves together, throwing spray as he got the tail out and even hit the lip on one of his waves so to finish 4th in both his heats was disappointing. Maybe he needs to use the paddle more to get the recognition he deserves. All stuff we can work on along with getting him a Finn-sized performance SUP!
What were his thoughts on the event?
He thought the judges were lame but was really taken in by the standard of surfing, the friendly demeanour of 95% of the contestants, the encouragement he received from Aaron, Lowey and many others and the rough camping experience all added to the ‘grom on tour buzz’.
Hats off to you for trying to nurture grom talent – anyone else coming through the Loco ranks we should know about?
We’re talking to a couple of surfer kids parents and we’re also meeting with some female surf rippers over the next few weeks but as you can imagine we keep our cards close. Shame we missed out on Lowey but he’s gone to the right place for what he wants now. Watch this space.
Where did you end up in the event?
I frustratingly bombed out in first round having to retire after pulling my back. Conditions didn’t really favour my style so suspect it would have been tough going against the lighter guys even if I was on it like grommet!
How could you have bettered your performance?
Surgery. Bit long in the tooth to win it I suspect but I didn’t see anything with the exception of the aerials that I can’t dial on my day. For next year it’s practice, distance training and maybe a wetsuit with a lumbar support and an integrated camel back for gin and tonic lubrication.
Notice any funky new shapes or designs?
Matt’s boards looked quite interesting with the Simmons-esque rails and they actually had more volume that I anticipated. The John Purton boards certainly looked like quality pieces of kit for the custom market. Interestingly enough all our Locos were getting great feedback. Just a shame our new comp line hadn’t arrived in time as just like our short SUPs (coined as ‘the trick boards’ over the weekend by Fanatic loyalist T -Bone) they’ll take the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ with any of these customs. With the exception of Naish the windsurfing brands aren’t even in the game at the performance end of SUP shaping!
Do you think it’s time for a national series of SUP surfing comps?
We’ve been banging on to BSUPA about this for two years. Interestingly enough I was talking to their chairman about it but he seemed to favour Scarborough – even though I run a BSUPA affiliated school in Tynemouth and have pretty much started the scene in the North East, know the best spots and could organise an event with prizes and safety cover for a fraction of what they do at Watergate. I know the guys in Wales are keen too. I think it would be great to run another event in Scotland or Ireland. Watch this space for the Loco SUP Surfing Invitational.
Any further thoughts about the BSUPA Nationals this year?
They really need to start moving the competition area flags to where the waves are actually working rather than just bang straight in front of the beach bar. My heat was complete dog shit, with conditions which weren’t contestable but 100m further down beach there were useable waves! Entrants need to be made aware that they actually have some say as to where and when they compete and this should be applicable across the whole competition.
Apologies to the ladies for a distinct lack of pictures but Joe was suffering with an injured back. He assures us that he’ll make a special effort to redeem himself next year so make sure you have your waterproof war paint with you.
Under 16 Girls
1st Hollie Bassett
2nd Bethen Richardson
Under 16 Boys
1st louie Harrow
2nd Guy Bridge
3rd Ollie laddiman
4th Fin Gamblin
1st Hollie Bassett
2nd Maria Buchanan
3rd Abi Barker Smith
4th Joanna Ibrahim
1st Matt Barker Smith
2nd Arron Rowe
3rd Tom Lowe
4th Glyn Oven
2013 Watergate Bay Waterman – Matt Barker Smith
2013 Watergate Bay Waterwomen – Hollie Bassett