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Looking Back: 2023 In All Its Glory

Updated: Feb 28

Marie Buchanan wins gold at the 2023 ISA World Championships in France

This year was a little different for us as I was trying to be more selective about what I did and where I attended. Having been involved with SUP for over ten years with Antony supporting me, be it racing or covering events, I felt it was time to give him “time off” for good behaviour, after all this was not his sport and it seemed that it had suddenly become his life.  


So, I released him to do what he wanted, and I would just manage on my own. Hmmmm ... all the best laid plans and all that! Here’s a recap of all the races we personally attended although there were many, many more happening in the UK! 

UK GlaGla


The first race was the UK version of the GlaGla held by one of our dearest friends in the sport, one Scott Skip Innes and his team at the Surrey Hills Adventure Company’s beautiful location near Reigate, just a stone’s throw away from our home. 


We were invited to cover the event and as it’s our good buddy, of course Antony agreed to pick up the camera and come and support too. Skip and I were on the lead boat, and it was a fabulous event with a good crowd of loyal followers entering. Lots of laps, lots of beach runs and lots of fun had by us all. We learnt a valuable lesson that day – actually I was reminded of a valuable lesson I should have learned from the year before – never let the lead boat’s wake get in the way of the paddlers. It happened in Cardiff, and it happened again here but if Chris Parker of SUP Racer has historically had the same issue, then we cannot feel too bad about it. We know it didn’t impact on the results of this race but for the rest of the 2023 season, I was acutely aware to be mindful of this potential issue! 


This event has captured the paddlers’ imagination and they do love an early season race, run well and with enthusiasm. Will Keatley and Felicity Hurst were the winners of the long courses. We cannot wait to return this year. 



A couple of the earlier GBSUP National Series races had to be cancelled due to bad weather but this led nicely onto one of the best races of the year, and a new one at that. My level of excitement for SUP12 hosted by Brendon Prince was very high as it was the first of its kind in the UK. A few days before, I contracted COVID for the first time and was horrified that I may miss the race. I luckily rallied round, and we drove down to the beautiful Torbay where coverage was going to be a joint affair with my very good buddy Simon from SUPfm Podcast. We have done a few bits together and bounce off each other well so it was a no brainer to invite him along when I was asked to cover the event.  


This was a 12-hour “paddle as far as you can” kind of event, and Simon and I chatted for all 12 hours and a bit more and were fed and watered by Antony and a few helpful others. The event could not have gone better, and this years' is a complete sell out already – can it be bigger and better in 2024? You bet! There will be a men's and women's category, maybe some simple age cats and we look forward to hopefully seeing the return of the winner of SUP12 2023, Bruce Ironsmith. Emily Evans was top for the ladies although not officially recognised last year. 


Brendon has kindly invited Simon and I back and we cannot wait to bring even better coverage this time. I know Simon has been working on some tech magic! 

Cardiff, Paddle Skedaddle, and Falmouth


GBSUP in Cardiff up next – we just love this venue and event, and I had the pleasure of having Martin Rendle on the mic with me. Martin and I have known each other for years, he’s a good friend and again, we worked well together – he has such a wealth of experience of SUP racing, so we had a blast taking the lead boat up the river and mooring up so as to not cause any “boat wake” issues. Taking the honours in the 14’ class were Ginnie Betts and Hector Jessel.  


I am beginning to realise that working alongside someone else really does bring something special to the coverage, so do step forward if you would like to come and join me at any time. 


In May we popped up to Martin Rendle’s wonderful event The Paddle Skedaddle – a mid-endurance race if you will, winding its way through 27km of the Norfolk Broads. Coverage was only made possible by having my personal chauffeur Martin, take me to all the best places to view – so lots of jumping in and out of the van and sometimes missing the leaders as they were paddling so fast! Again, the fans of this race really are very loyal, and we can see why. Great camping right by the Broads, lovely hosts and a great after party! Nat Rendle and Mark Salter won and smashed the previous year’s records. Mark beat his own time from the previous year, but Nat absolutely smashed over 15 minutes off the 2022 winner’s time! Incredible paddling. 


July saw Falmouth hosting the qualifiers for the ISA and ICF Worlds as well as the Euros so an important race for some of the competitors. Held over 2 days, both of which brought challenges due to the weather, there was some exciting racing in the sprints, technical and distance races. Slightly feisty conditions and a good beach break really ramped up the need for ocean skills and we had some great winners old and new.  


Paddlers who qualified were Emily Evans, Ginnie Betts, Marie Buchanan, Holly Pye, Annabel Page, Blue Ewer, Ben Moreham, Will Keatley and Hector Jessel – in the prone category we had Molly Roodhouse, Andrew Byatt and Jessica Georgelin. What a great bunch of athletes going forward to represent the UK worldwide! 

British National Championships and GBSUP Series Results


The next event we attended in the UK was the British National Championships held in September at Bray Lake. Competitors must compete in all three disciplines and the overall 2023 champs were Michelle Kimbler and Hector Jessel. Some exciting racing held that day and kudos to the GBSUP team for all their hard work with this event and the whole series too.  


We didn’t get to all the GBSUP series races; a couple were cancelled due to lack of numbers and council/parking issues, but we’d love to applaud the series winners as follows: 

  • In the Flatwater Distance series, Ginnie Betts and Hector Jessel. 

  • In the Ocean Tech series, Annabel Page and Jan Pospisil. 

You can check out all the results and winners going right back to 2016 – it's fascinating stuff and you can see it all right here: 


ISA World Championships, Les Sables d’Olonne, France 

We do love an international event and would have loved to have attended all three in September, October and November but finances certainly did not allow that. We had not planned to go to France but having a great friend competing meant another hastily organised road trip! Our accommodation was fantastic and so local to the beaches used for the racing and we all got thoroughly swept along for the ride. 


We were equally excited about the team and felt we had some good, strong chances but maybe didn’t realise who that might come from! Again, our plan was not to provide coverage and as soon as the event started, we realised that there was absolutely no point – the ISA have stepped up their game and had some great footage and coverage – we certainly could not better anything but ticked along with social media info for the home crowd and the odd interview with team members. Many miles were covered on the beach, running up and down to shout on the team and blood pressure certainly was raised for all of us – in the end we had some fabulous results, but the best ones came from the prone paddlers. Two fantastic Silver medals from Andrew Byatt in the Tech and Distance, a Copper medal for Jessica Georgelin in the Distance and a Bronze for Molly Roodhouse in the Tech. Special shout out for Hector Jessel coming in 5th in the Junior Boys Tech race. Our 4 athletes performed brilliantly in the Team Relay, finishing 5th and overall, the Team finished 6th out of 29 teams, their best result at the ISA Worlds! We felt really honoured and blessed to be there watching these UK athletes competing so well against the rest of the world. 


It was also lovely to see all our friends from around the world and meet new ones. We have over the years got to know the likes of Mathieu Astier from TotalSUP who was utterly brilliant as beach commentator, Race Director Anthony Vela, Dreu Murin, Beau Nixon, Casper Steinfath and new friend Nico Dinovo from Up Suping. Competitors too; Michael Booth, Shuri Araki, Itzel Delgado, Christian Anderson, Esperanza Barreras and Caroline Kuntzel – it's been a while since we have seen some of them. 


Old friends and new and one person who will not be forgotten is one Marcio Dias who lives and breathes the water and waves at his home in Cornwall. Not only did he perform brilliantly in the SUP surf competition but then held the flag for ALL the other members of the team and encouraged them all the way – I don’t think I have a photograph from the beach where he is not featured. Marcio is a wonderful human being and is every reason why I love this sport so much – he had time and energy for everyone, not just himself. A beautiful man and a quite brilliant surfer too!  


So, we have witnessed again some epic performances from our homegrown athletes and others from around the World – we love SUP racing and there are many new faces to be inspired by. Thank you all for checking in to our live feeds on Facebook – we love the interaction with you all – its always great fun having a chinwag with you live whilst watching the paddlers on the water. Long may it all continue. 


Simon Hutchinson
Simon Hutchinson
Feb 28

Looking forward to this year’s action at SUP12 ! 🤙

Sarah Thornely
Sarah Thornely
Feb 29
Replying to

OH YES! Cannot wait for all the action - 130 paddlers this year, it's going to be EPIC! :-)

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