STAND UP PADDLE RACING
Whether its a fun race, an epic downwinder or a grueling endurance race, there’s a style of Stand Up Paddling for everyone. Even if you’re new to the sport, Stand Up Paddling clubs all over Australia are keen to get you racing.
When someone mentions SUP, not only do we think of toned and tanned guys & gals floating on water – several styles spring to mind. Many boards can cross over between disciplines, so there’s no need to spend a truck load of cash on equipment.
Why restrict yourself to one area! Here’s a bit of info on the different styles you might like to branch out into. Who knows, you might love it!
Fun, casual racing: The best kind of racing is not for sheep stations – paddling around a few buoys with your mates is a heap of fun. Any board works, from your 8 foot wave machine to a 14 foot downwinder board – as long as you can stand on it, you can race it. Longer boards work better of course, but all it takes is one fall and you’ll have your very own Bradbury moment! Every SUP club offers casual racing, usually on weekends or after work in a
Downwinders: 20 knot days aren’t just for kitesurfers! All you need is two people with two cars, and you’ve got yourself a downwinder! Simply meet at the downwind location, leave a car there – and bring both of you and your gear to a point of your choice UPWIND of where you started. You could get blown all the way back to your car without paddling, but that’s just lazy! Put in a few strokes here and there to catch runners or little waves, and surf your merry way back downwind. Make sure you wear a leg rope, because your board might blow away faster than you can swim! Use common sense, and have a PFD if you think you may enter offshore/exposed waters. Once you’ve done a few downwinders to get your sea legs, go on longer missions, with more people,in MORE wind – to make up an EPIC downwinder.
Competitive Racing: Some racing IS for sheep stations (or at least a fat wad of cash!).Competitive racing isn’t for everyone, this is the land of 110% carbon and boards worth more than a small car. You don’t need the latest and greatest gear though – a long board with a pointy front bit will work just fine. All you will need is guts of steel, and a competitive streak. Most racing is done around a series of buoys, which means a fast start, straight line speed and fast turns all play a crucial part in winning. Hook up with your local SUP club for regular race meetings, or travel the Australian (or world) circuit and take on the high rollers!
Endurance Racing: Reckon you could paddle over 140 kilometres in one hit? It’s been done – and the record still stands to be broken! Endurance
racing is normally from one point to another, and can involve anything from massive swells to 40 knots of wind. Racing over a long distance requires a
different skill set to short course racing – stamina and pacing are the most critical components here – with one mistake costing valuable energy. Start training for an endurance race in flat water, by paddling back and forward (like 1km each way) for a long period of time. Don’t jump straight into the heavy stuff like Hawaii’s Battle of the Paddle, which only involves paddling the crazy stretch between TWO ISLANDS! Once again, it all starts at your
local SUP Club.
So, no matter what you’re into – where you’re from, or what gear you’ve got. You can try something new this weekend. Get in contact with your local club or shop, and start SUP racing!!
The Indian Girl in SUP racing
Surf’s up: Meet Tanvi Jagadish, India’s first professional stand up paddle racer
The 17-year-old from Mangaluru has represented India internationally at stand-up paddling tournaments.
The first time Tanvi Jagadish tried surfing, she did it on the sly. She had seen her friends practicing at the local beach and wanted to give it a shot. But as a tiny 10-year-old who didn’t know how to swim and suffered from light asthma, she knew her parents would not approve of her trying to ride the waves near their home in Mangaluru. So she asked the one person she knew would say yes – her granny.
After a week of initial surf lessons, her life changed significantly. For one thing, she claims her asthma seemingly disappeared and for another, the seas became her playground. “But weren’t you afraid of drowning when you first went out into the water?” A reporter asked Tanvi during a telephone interview one afternoon.
“No, I had no fear at all. I’m an ocean addict and I love being in the water, so I didn’t think about it,” the cheerful 17-year-old said. She had just finished an intense surf session that morning and was taking a break before heading out to her evening physio-training sessions.
GLIDING ALONG THE WATER
Tanvi started training and learning how to swim at the nearby Mantra Surf Club, one of the first surf schools in India and soon enough she was gliding
along the water. But the ocean wasn’t done with her just yet. Around the time Tanvi was 12, a guest at Mantra named April, introduced her to Stand Up Paddling. The activity is exactly what it sounds like – you stand on a large, broad board and use a paddle to navigate the waters.
“I’d never seen anything like it,” Tanvi recalled. “We had the boards at Mantra but we’d never tried it and after I saw how fast April moved in the water I wanted to give it a shot.” That incident introduced Tanvi to a sport she has now made her career – she is India’s first professional SUP racer. She’s also a national SUP racing champion and the first athlete to represent India internationally at SUP racing events.
Surfing is still a relatively new sport in India. The country’s warm waters and natural surf spots (often near estuaries, where rivers meet the seas) make it a great place for newbies to find their feet and for professionals to test their skills. Surf schools have existed in Goa, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for about a decade now, but it’s only recently that people have embraced surfing as a lifestyle adventure sport, along the lines of river rafting or scuba diving.
RIDING THE WAVES
However, compared to surfing, Stand Up Paddling is practically unknown but Ram Mohan Paranjpe, vice president of the Surfing Federation of India is optimistic about its future. “It may take some time to become as popular as surfing is in India but it has a lot of potential. It can be done on any water body, by anyone, of any age and requires less effort than surfing,” he said.
These surf schools often organise competitions, drawing surfing and SUP enthusiasts from across India. For the SUP races, organisers lay out a course in the water, similar to a track, with tight curves and challenging routes. Competitors must complete the course (distances vary between 1 and 18 km,
depending on the level of the competition) as quickly as possible, while battling tides, currents, winds and the sun.
It was at these events that Tanvi honed her skills and made a mark on the nascent Indian surfing and SUP scene. She claimed the top prize in her first competitive SUP event, the 2015 Covelong Point Surf Classic and continued that streak at the Manapad Classic Surf and Sail Festival and India Open of Surfing fest in 2016.
THE WATER CHAMPION
Prepping for these events is hard work. Tanvi and her team at Mantra, where she continues to train and learn, work on breathing, endurance, sprints and strength. “I used to watch SUP videos online before competitions and try learning techniques from that.” Tanvi said. The folks at Mantra have also campaigned for her sponsorships and often travel with her for events.
In 2016, Tanvi began competing internationally in SUP races. She placed third at the West Marine Carolina Club Stand Up Paddle Board Race, in USA, and represented India at the World SUP and Paddleboard Championship organised by the International Surfing Association, in Fiji, where
athletes from 26 countries competed in events like SUP distance race (18km) and SUP technical race (3km).
“In Fiji, we had to race 18km in the hot sun and with strong currents,” she said, “I didn’t know what to expect and I remember my competitors were like robots, they were so strong!” In addition to allowing Tanvi to pit herself against the world’s best SUP racers, these competitions also taught her how much she still has to learn.
Up next for Tanvi are the Indian Open of Surfing, beginning on May 26 in Mangaluru, and the 2017 ISA World SUP and the Paddleboard Championship, scheduled to take place in Denmark in September. She’s got a tough road ahead of her, but she’s up for the challenge. Her parents support her unconditionally (her dad shares her racing videos with all his friends), she’s got a new sponsor to help with funds and unlike other teenagers, she isn’t worried about the latest gadgets or trends –“Who needs all that when you can connect with the ocean?”