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Watergate Bay BSUPA National Championships 2015

The Annual British Stand up Paddle Associations National Champions ran on the weekend of the 4/5th October this year.(2014)
The Event based from Watergate bay in Cornwall always has a good turnout of competitors who come to test their new skills against The U.K’s best Paddle surfers.
It’s currently the only annual SUP surfing event put on across the U.K which is why it’s so popular and it’s great to meet up with friends from all corners of the U.K, shame there are no other comps.
The beach itself at Watergate can serve up some great conditions when all the right factors fall into place. A Peaky beach break with a sand bottom which faces west and picks up swells from SW-NW direction, so it can get big…and windy.

As we all headed down to the Event safety brief on saturday morning this is what we were greeted with, the first day of the BSUPA 2014 SUP surf competition, lots of water moving around as a 6-8ft swell marched onto the shore forced by a strong 20-25mph NW onshore wind and incoming tide…I had a unlucky heat draw as last years champion ..I was in the first heat !
Picture it ..Have you ever got to the beach and looked at the wind and onshore waves been blown around and decided that DIY was your best option…this is what it was like.
All four of us in the first heat struggled to get past our waist in the 15 minutes paddle out time we were given.
photo 1
As the time ticked on I realised that regardless of the conditions their were 4 ISA judges sat in comfy chairs with a score sheet in their hands waiting for the surfing to begin. We were all as frustrated as each other but had to resign to catching white water reforms did the next 6 heats until the tide pushed in and eventually gaps started to appear in the white water barrage giving a few competitors a chance to catch an emerald gem out the back.
For the remainder of the day it was about survival and conservation of energy..sometimes taking more than 10 minutes to get out the back to catch the higher scoring set waves.
It got me quite frustrated at one point , as after just returning from a week long trip to Portugal and surfing clean 4-5ft waves everyday I was enduring set after set on my head!
Anyway through to the next day, and remaining positive the conditions were set to improve for sunday.
photo 5
The nature of Competitive surfing means that if there isn’t a waiting period and the event has to run to schedule sometimes you’ll have to surf in conditions which you would normally turn your nose up at.
Having No alternative to finding somewhere more sheltered means you’re putting all your Water skills on the line to try beat or mould with what mother nature throws at you.
Doing this will really get you to grips with your equipment and what works best.
Over the course of the weekend I rode three of my Boards 8’2 x 30 , 7’9 x 28 , 7’9 x 26. Choosing to ride the biggest (8’2 Barker Rapture ) in the super choppy blown out conditions at the start and as the conditions got better over the weekend finding time for the wider of the 7’9 Rapture Ultra Models and leaving the narrower 26 Ultra SUP for the sunday only.

ke Nalu SUP paddles

ke Nalu SUP paddles

My Paddle choice varied between using the Bigger bladed Ke Nalu Maliko with 95sq inches for the choppier / windy heats and the Ke Nalu Wiki 84sq inches for the cleaner sunday sessions or when I was getting tired.

Time for a favourite board of mine

Time for a favourite

Having equipment you know works and in different conditions really gives you a head start, I’ve learnt this from previous competitions where not knowing what your going to ride can put unnecessary stress on your performance.
Back to the Nationals

The Sunday’s offering was a much cleaner 3-6ft Swell with lighter s/sw winds which gave us offshore conditions. The swell was still big, with shorter period windswell mixed together meaning wave selection was important.
From my point of view the competitors who stood out throughout the weekend were Aaron Rowe , Alex Murray, Glyn Ovens, Ben Fisher, Matt Argyle, Neal Gent and Charlie grey.
It can be a game of nerves when surfing competitively, but you’re surfing so I always try and see the Fun side of it , It can only go two ways win or loose.

The Final

Charged for the final

Charged for the final

Myself (Matt Barker- Smith) Aaron Rowe, Alex Murray, Glyn Ovens were all charged to get on with the Final.
We were given a 10 minute paddle out and we all just about managed to get out, I think Glyn had a few on the head on the inside.
Surfing heats in these conditions are really energy sapping, and I was careful not to make a mistake I had made earlier in the competition by working the waves all the way to the inside and risk getting stuck inside for 10 minutes.
So I was very selective in my wave choice, Aaron had been looking very strong throughout the competition and unfortunately for him stood up and caught a wave before the heat had started, this obviously had a huge impact on him Psychologically.

7'9 x 26 Barker Ultra

7’9 x 26 Barker Ultra

Myself and Alex had obviously chosen to stay out back and look for the bigger set waves for scoring potential.
The waves I caught in the final were big and short lived which meant I had to put all my speed into hitting the lip hard – a move which I pulled off – The judges at the start of the comp had indicated that ‘They would highly score big risk manoeuvres’
So I was super stoked to hold onto my 2013 title as British SUP surf Champion 2014!

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 14.04.20

going for it !

going for it !


See a great movie put together by Will & Reuben at SUPBOARDERMAG here below

Great to catch up with good friends at Watergate bay
Argyle_and Barker

A big Thanks must go out to the organisers and supporters of the event
Richard Marsh.

Xtreme Academy
Watergate bay hotel
Bob Berry photography

Event PR


South Wales evening post

South Wales evening post

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