After taking part in last year’s Coast2Coast Scottish SUP Surfing Competition in Dunbar with Joe making the final we were excited to hear that this year’s competition would now form the basis of the SSF’s selection process for the ISA World Championships in Fiji. With a strong contingent of Locos in Scotland we were quietly confident that some of our riders could make the cut but many of our obvious rider choices couldn’t attend due to ‘working in A&E’ or being on a ‘road trip to Mull’ etc. Needless to say things ahead of the contest were looking a bit sketchy…
After the usual bitching about ‘the conditions’ by the middle aged men who would form the majority of entrant’s C2C wisely chose to move the SUP element to Sunday where the wind was much less of a factor (or at least it was supposed to be). Much as a freezing cold night in the van in a brisk NW was tempting, boss man Joe decided to get up at the crack and take advantage of his recently acquired 3.5 V6 SUP whip, making Dunbar from South Shields in just over an hour!
Despite the cold Northerly wind it was a beautiful morning travelling up A1 with many hidden spots hinting at some sheltered perfection. Sadly our destination at Belhaven isn’t such a spot and catching it bang on low tide made for some dumpy first rounds for longboarders and SUPers alike. If you could get out back you were almost guaranteed to go through! The heats had been rightly seeded so Nick, Simon and Joe (last year’s podium) all went in separate heats and all went on to win their heats quite comfortably.
The semi-finals were a bit more of a lottery as the tide was between banks which made for some fat slacker waves on the outside which were really hard to scratch into and ultimately closed out on the inside if you could catch one. The smart money was on catching the smaller waves with more shape on the inside. Sadly Joe got embroiled in a battle for the bombs with Nick and let Martin sneak through after scoring some better moves on the inside. Once again we see a solid strategy triumph over bravado…take note Loco groms!
The ladies event could have been better attended so it was a shame Laura Edmunds didn’t jump in the car with Martin and come down from Aberdeen as dare say she’d have qualified for the ISA’s easily! That said Nicki Graham from Saltburn was back in action and she was putting together some nice turns in outback. The only Scottish entry from Thurso didn’t have a board so Joe kindly lent out his 9’2” El Diablo to her which let her score a couple of solid waves although two of her scores were discounted for kneeling as she paddled into the waves. That said good on her for having a go and we’re confident she’ll be back!
After a seemingly endless wait the Mens SUP Final kicked off with Nick, Martin and Simon all choosing the same left sometimes right peak and Neil opting for a most consistent and less crowded right which sometimes reformed going left.
The standard had gone up a gear from last year with Nick and Simon busting out some floaters and losing the fins off the top while Martin scored some of the longest rides and Neil found his groove cutting back to the pocket going backside to front as well as careering off down the line on some of the larger sets and confidently hacking off the top!
It really was too tight to call and you could cut the tension with a knife! As soon as they were in the buzzer sounded and the final was over. There was some anxious waiting around as the boys waited for the longboard finals to conclude. The usual banter ensued with Joe winding up ‘The Duntonator’ for his own amusement. He’s not competitive at all!!
It wasn’t long before the prize giving took place and we were amped to see one of Loco’s ‘old guard’ Martin Downing come a very respectable 4th, Simon Dunton 3rd, Loco last minute entry Neil Craig sneak a cheeky 2nd and well done to fellow North Easterner Nick Graham on retaining his title. This result means that Martin and Neil have both qualified for the ISA World Championships in Fiji so we’re beyond stoked. Let’s hope they can both make it!
Apologies to the ladies and earlier heats for the lack of ‘loco standard photos’ but I was judging or competing myself. I’ll hook you guys up next time or if you come for a paddle with me sometime?
Thanks to Coast2Coast for organising another great event and Steve Williams for his outstanding flapjack! We look forward to supporting this competition as it continues to grow.
Stay tuned for more Loco action from our constantly growing team of performance athletes..
Words: Joey T
Photos: Loco SUP