The above list is the countries I visited from September 2nd 2015. Probably the best 3 months of my life so far. Traveling to event after event competing in Stand up paddle boarding races and having some down time after a hectic Summer. My long journey ended in the south Pacific island of New Zealand.
Today the 23rd of November I signed a short term lease for a place I am renting in Auckland. Causing me to stay in one spot for a few months. It’s refreshing to have settled down again. I have almost started a new life in N.Z. New Friends, Bank acc, Job, Phone Number, Tax, etc. Settling down is something I never thought I would do again but traveling constantly makes it difficult to actually focus on what I really want to do which is to push my performance in SUP racing?
My 2015 race season did not end to plan. Injury, loss of motivation and a general feeling of being burnt out caused my performance to go downhill. That is the draw back when pushing yourself weekend after weekend. I set out in early September to compete in 15 races over 15 weeks with majority of them being in a different country every weekend. The reality of logistics, traveling and budgets makes it more of an admin nightmare as much as a physical test!
The 2016 racing season is going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be another big year for the sport of SUP Racing and hopefully I can be part of it! I plan to stick around the Southern Hemisphere until March and then make my way back to Europe to start Summer SUP School back up and competing full time!
During my first international race to Paris a few years ago I met the Jersey crew. A group of friends who live on a rock in the middle of the English channel with a common passion for paddling. I have traveled with them, raced against them but I have always wanted to go to Jersey ever since then. This week I travelled over for the 2015 Battle for the Rock.
Myself and Aaron Rowe had a sprint finish in the B.O.P race with Aaron taking the line by inches.
Sunday morning was a B.O.P race on St. Ouens Beach. The 2016 all star loves these style of course with quick bouy turns and rapid acceleration.
Quick stop to Guernsey complementary of Condor ferries 😉
Early this week I got to surfing in Devon on the Starboard 9’8 Gun.
After nearly two years of planning, organising and dreaming. It has become a reality. ‘Summer SUP School’ . Together with my buisness partner we are opening Irelands ultimate Stand Up Paddle Board School on Old Head Beach in Louisburgh – Co. Mayo.
Summer SUP School is going to offer a full range of activities:
-Plus lots more.
I am fortunate to have some amazing sponsors who support me and produce the best equipment on the market. Red Paddle Co. and Starboard are the obvious equipment choices combined with O’Neill wetsuits. We have secured the most ideal location on the beach with a perfect grassy spot to hang out and go for a paddle.
Old Head has always been one of my favourite beaches. Some of my first memories were on Old Head playing in the rock pools. Now I get to spend the whole Summer on the beach again combined with traveling the world competing in some of the worlds biggest SUP events.
My sponsor Surfdock recently opened a new business venture Wakedock. This is the first permanent cable wakeboarding park in Ireland and is probably the coolest toy I have ever used. When I first heard about the system I didn’t really get it. I thought it was a modified ski lift at first but then I looked up some videos and discovered its versatility of use. Check out this video.
I am a complete newbie to the sport of wakeboarding and found out that Ireland has a solid crew of guys ripping it. During the whole install phase I was helping out around the dock and every person who tried the cable was super stoked grinning after their session. From a 8 year old girl to a 64 year old windsurfer everyone succeeded to ride the cable. Lets hope the weather warms up a bit in the next few weeks for the real fun to happen. Check out the website and facebook page at Wakedock.
Last weekend was a epic adventure with long waits in airports due to a canceled flight and getting to surf in England with the Starboard UK gang. After waiting in airports for a good few hours and a 35min flight. I finally arrived in the Tushingham/Starboard warehouse in the Devon hills filled with the latest kit. Saturday was the meeting part where all the team discussed the many achievements of the past year and went through this years kit in detail. We moved to a pub for further meeting type stuff and the tiki oscars. Lots of awards were handed out and I picked up ‘Rookie Of The Year’. Some funny stories and major achievements were awarded highly.
Sunday was the fun day when all the new kit was brought down to the beach at Bigbury On Sea for a surf session. A good range of kit in all the constructions was on test. I tried plenty of boards everything from a 8,0 to a 14ft ace which was 23,5 wide. The Starboard UK guys were ripping it on pretty much everything and a good local crew of suppers were on show as well. After a day full of surfing it was back home to Ireland. I can’t wait to bo back for some races and comps in the next few months. Check out Starboard UK on Facebook and Starboard to check out all the new boards and paddles.
I recently got the new 12,6 allstar race board from starboard. I have got the board out in a good variety of conditions now and have come to find its a fast flatwater board but is fastest in the choppy water and waves. This board is designed to be the all round raceboard competitive in all conditions. Brian Szymanski married last years BOP board with the popular ACE to produce these narrow race boards with features like a deep scoped out deck to get you closer to the water which allows you to run a narrower board. The best feature of this board is the nose and bow shape. It is the original ACE nose with all the volume taken out and refined as a kind of slick bow. This can be felt in the flat water as it cuts through the water while the nose of the deck has the BOP domed v which helps it to slice through the waves keeping the speed up in the surf.
All these new innovative design features has increased the use of the board. The scary looking figures of the width is a new bench mark of were the design of race boards are going. I think this will be shown in the race results of the upcoming year as you see the narrow boards dominate. The long waterline of a 12,6 has lots of stability all ready and the scoped out standing area of the All star provides the extra stability. Even the widest board being 27 inches wide will still have lots of stability for you average paddler and then the two narrower models should accommodate the more experienced racers. The new race 23 fin and fin box positioning helps this board turn on a penny with a wide tail for stability during the turn.
If you want a fast all round raceboard get the Allstar.
If you have been in Europe recently you would have noticed the wintery weather with cold temperatures, snow and for us living in Ireland lots of easterly wind. This makes Dublin Bay a perfect location for downwind paddling. Downwinding is almost a separate sport in the whole of stand up paddle boarding scene and was made popular by the Hawaiians paddling from Island to Island using the trade winds which produce long ocean swells or as paddelers like to call them ‘bumps and runners’ . Similar to Hawaii the cold easterly wind travels over the Irish sea and brings this long ocean swell into Dublin Bay.
Keeping a low centre of gravity on the bump to increase my stability
Downwinding has one fatal consequence its all about paddling from one location to another down wind so you need to work out the logistics of getting around dropping off cars at the finish location and then trying to get a lift to the start location. I am fortunate enough to have my Dad the dedicated driver and photographer who drives around while we have the fun of our lives gliding across the ocean.
Surfdock team rider Lewis Eickholt and Myself stacking the boards high
Paddling upwind is not the funnest thing to do but when you start going downwind its all worth it
The combination of wind, swell and tide make every bump different and learning to read them is always a challenge. Ireland as a location for this is perfect with a unlimited supply of wind and costal waters.
Connor Baxter taking a air drop with all of his weigh back to keep that nose out of the water. Maui to Molokai race 2012
The forecast for the next few days looks like the prevailing southerly wind is returning and back to the standard mild winter that we have come to love. I have been looking at the charts for the west coast and it looks like another huge swell to come this weekend and lots of wind with it.