SUP-SM 2016 MALMÖ
Having spent one week at a SUP/surf camp in Hoddevik, Norway, Loco grom Aina was well prepared for her second ever paddle competition. The focus of the camp (more about that later) was really waves but a few calm days also gave an opportunity for Swedish Sprint champion Margareta Engström to have an excellent class on paddle technique and some great tips on how to surf a raceboard.
In true grom style, Aina got the hang of surfing her Loco Motion 10’6” right away and hanging out with several podium regulars all week made the choice easy when they suggested that we take the trip to Malmö and the Swedish SUP Champs a week later. Aina had a slight moment of hesitation a few days later when it came to our knowledge that only two girls were registered in the under 10 yo class and she would have to compete in the ladies up to 14 class instead. Luckily, she decided to go anyway.
The championships were excellently arranged by Moana and Malmö SUP club just beside the famous Turning Torso building in Malmö on the warmest day of summer, with 28 degrees in the shade. A slight breeze made it bearable but plentiful water and ice cream were called for. Having studied the starting technique of the seniors, it was time to line up for the junior’s technical race. As soon as the horn blew, the light weight of the Motion proved to be a clear advantage and Aina was briefly in the lead as she hopped on board but unluckily made bottom contact with the fin after a few strokes.
She quickly recovered and rounded the first buoy in second place. Agnes Lindh who took the gold medal secured an early lead and never let it go but behind her drama unfolded. All through the race, Aina kept a slight lead over Febe who was chasing her on a 12’6. Every time she came close, Aina increased the paddle rate a little and managed to stay in second place around every turn. As the girls rounded the last buoy and sprinted towards the finish line on the beach, Aina showed that the paddle lessons worked.
Having paddled over 1km, there was almost no arm strength left but she moved her hand down on the paddle for more power and increased the gap. As they closed on the beach, the leash wouldn’t come off as planned. Febe had more routine and already removed the leash further out. As Aina struggled, Febe ran past her through the shallows and pinched the silver by a mere second. Any racer could easily let this ruin the day but not Aina.
She shone like the sun on the podium and was really happy with bringing home a bronze medal. A great feat indeed by the youngest paddler of the whole championship, against girls 4-5 years her senior. She has already started planning for the next competition and inspired by her enthusiasm, more family members are probably getting into SUP racing. Stay tuned for more from Team Loco Sweden.
Report from the Swedish SUP Championships 2016, Malmö, Sweden
Aina Unander, 9 years old.