There are *only* 162 days and counting until the 2014 ISA World SUP Championship. Yes, we’re still more than five months out from the third annual Worlds, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of nations from already holding their qualifying events and selecting teams.
While France, Australia and Spain all ran their nationals in the past month and are expected to announce team lineup shortly, one nation that slipped through under the radar but has already finalised their squad is the UK, where the recent BSUPA National Race Championships helped decide who gets a spot on the plane to Nicaragua.
Held over two weekends, the first event in Newquay saw the SUP surfers do their thing, before the racing kicked off in South Devon to see who would fill out the team.
The second weekend saw the racers take the stage, racing it out on a flat-water course in beautiful south Devon in a winner takes all race. Taking the honors were two in form athletes who competed in this year’s worlds, Marie Buchanan and Ollie Shilston.
Marie has been in fantastic form of late winning the 11-cities race in Holland and both Marie and Ollie have shown some solid performances on the European circuit this season. In fact Ollie was one of the surprise packets in Peru. I remember watching Ollie battle it out near the front of the field in the first qualifying heat (see the pic below) and wondering where this guy had come from. Fast forward 12 months and after having hung out with and raced alongside Ollie in Europe, I can see why he’s one of the few really elite guys in Britain.
Taking the second male spot on the team after some consistent form over the British summer and having a great race pushing Ollie all the way to the finish was Sonny Erdelyi. While this isn’t a name familiar to most SUP racing fans, Sonny has more paddling experience than most, having spent 15 years as a flat-water canoer in the paddling-obsessed nation of Hungary. Given the racing component of the ISA Worlds may be held in the flat next May, Sonny may just turn a few heads.
On the SUP surfing side of things, winning the male Nationals and earning his seat to Nicaragua was Matt Barker-Smith. Matt is no stranger to the World Champs as he was in Peru acting as the British team manager and supporting his wife Abi who was competing in the surfing.
Menawhile up and coming youngster Holly Bassett will take the women’s SUP surfing position, while another young gun in Jersey’s Aaron Rowe (who’s a pretty handy racer as well) will fill out the team.
Taking on management duties is Peru veteran Jim Richardson, who will oversee a full team in . The UK is looking to select and send prone paddlers as well, which will help them get as many points as possible and should see them improve on the overall 9th place the team scored in 2013.
Full team lineup is below and if you want to follow the Brits on their ISA adventure, head on over to Facebook and start following the official official Team GB page.
You can also see full results from the British National Champs, which decided the team.
Team GB @ 2014 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship