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Swansea paddle board surfers chosen for GB Team

Swansea is living up to its reputation as a centre of excellence for watersports with the news that three of the GB team taking part in this year’s World Stand Up Paddleboard Championships are from the city.

Jim Richardson, a director of Penguin Recruitment, Abi Barker-Smith, a clinical psychologist, and her husband Matt, who runs a paddleboarding school in Mumbles, are all members of the seven strong GB team.

They fly out to Miraflores in Peru next month where the 2013 ISA (International Surfing Association) World Stand Up Paddleboarding Championship will be held.

The first World Championship was held there last year when 150 competitors from seventeen countries took part in this historic event. This year it is anticipated 200 of the world’s best – representing 25 countries – will be competing for top honours in eleven different events.

Matt Barker-Smith is the GB Peru team manager and reserve, Jim will be taking part in the surfing event and Abi will be the first woman to represent GB in the women’s paddle board surfing event.

Jim, who competed in the world championships last year, was again selected this year after coming second in the British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA) National Championships in Cornwall in October 2012.

Abi, who has been paddle boarding for four years helped by her husband and coach Matt, qualified by taking second place in the surfing category at the British championship.

Jim, who lives in Newton with his wife Mi, described it as a tremendous honour to be selected for the second year in a row

“I’m delighted to be going back to Peru as part of Team GB. 2012’s competition opened my eyes to the high performance of SUP surfing and without a doubt I came back a better surfer for it. I am very excited to be returning as part of a larger and more experienced team and optimistic of our chances this year.”

Abi, from Mumbles, said:” I’m thrilled to be asked to represent Britain in Peru and very excited. It’s such a great opportunity and I have to thank Wavehunters Cornwall, Clean Earth Energy and Quick Blades Paddle UK for sponsoring me and making this dream possible.”

Matt, who runs a paddleboarding school and shop in Mumbles and works in collaboration with the Swansea Watersports Centre of Excellence, is working alongside the UK team manager John Harvey.

He said:” I used to love surfing but am now completely consumed by stand up paddleboarding and needless to say am an addict. I am delighted to be part of the team and as the ground team manager in Peru will be supporting as best I can.

“Last year we only had four competitors in the GB team which meant we couldn’t enter all the events on offer. Despite this, the team still managed to finish 12th out of 17 countries that all had full teams giving them the opportunity to get a higher overall score.

“We are still hoping to recruit another two team members in order to have a full complement and enter all the events and hope to come in the top ten this year. It’s an extremely tough competition especially as those from warmer climes can train all year round in warn water.

”I’m particularly delighted that Swansea is so well represented this year – which will certainly raise the profile of the city’s centre of watersports excellence.”

The team are actively looking for sponsors as they have to finance the entire trip themselves and in the meantime Abi and Jim are using every opportunity to train for the big event.

As fitness and flexibility is so important Jim is out running around the cliffs of Gower most mornings before the sun comes up – with the aid of a head lamp and his training partner – Merlin, a border collie.

Abi takes to the water at every opportunity – which included paddleboard surfing this weekend – despite the snow!

The 2013 ISA (International Surfing Association) World Stand Up Paddleboarding Championship will be held February 24 – March 2

Team GB members
Andre Le Geyt
Jim Richardson
Charlie Grey
Ollie Shilston
Abi Barker-Smith
Marie Buchanan
Matt Barker-Smith, Peru Manager
John Harvey, UK Manager

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Here at SUP Gower We offer Stand up paddle lessons & Foiling Lessons ( wing sup - wing foil - sup foil -surf-foil & Efoil ) Plus Hire & Clinics. Our showroom and Plant based Cafe is stocked with boards, paddles, coffee & cake and all the food and gear you need to get on the water. GROUND plant based & much more.
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