Thrown In The Deep End At The Paddleboarding Dragon World Championships

0
3

Images: World Photographs

For many athletes, participating on this planet championships is the fruits of a lifetime of dedication and sacrifice. For me, it has concerned a few hours of mild observe within the Caribbean sunshine. The most important sacrifice I’ve made up to now has been to delay the time of the day’s first rum and Coke.

The occasion I’m participating in is the inaugural Dragon World Championships, a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) race organised by board maker Purple Paddle, based in 2008 by former windsurfing champion John Hibbard. Advances in know-how signifies that they’ve been in a position to create an inflatable board inflexible sufficient to remain rock-solid with a number of individuals standing on it. That’s why this competitors – happening in Carlisle Bay, off Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados – will see groups from across the globe battle it out on four-person, 22ft (6.7m) Dragon boards, with Hibbard available to supervise proceedings.

The format on day one sees factors allotted in keeping with the place you end in your warmth. Your rating determines your seeding for the knockout rounds on day two. Till a couple of minutes earlier than the beginning, I’m feeling fairly relaxed about the entire thing as a result of I’m meant to be a part of a ragtag workforce of journalists for whom the pen is mightier than the paddle. However an harm to a different competitor means I’ve been drafted into The Grand Masters – a workforce comprising seasoned watersports fanatic and windsurfing teacher Bob, and a pair of Purple Paddle distributors from Germany referred to as Etienne and Marion. I’m instantly made to really feel a part of the gang but when we have been the Beatles, I might be our second-best drummer.

Feeling the warmth

The primary spherical is forgiving in that we’re paddling for factors reasonably than preventing to remain within the competitors, however the opposition is as stiff because the board I’ll be driving. We’re up towards a workforce who’ve flown from Russia to be right here (and aren’t precisely exuding an it’s-the-taking-part-that-counts aura) and an area quartet who could also be new to Dragon board racing however are nicely versed within the bay’s swells. 

Our techniques are easy. Marion is on the entrance and can name the strokes. I’m buried in second place, with the opposite two guys on the again appearing because the engine room. We make a strong begin however I’m so busy concentrating on staying upright that my strokes are extra mild pats than highly effective pulls. The course takes us straight out to sea, then right into a left flip after 200m, persevering with till we full the 800m roughly-square route.

The Russians velocity off with decided effectivity, leaving us to battle it out with the locals. They’re in all probability quicker however they’re spending extra time within the water so we edge previous them and float up the shore for a second-place end. We’ve bagged precious factors however I’ll want to drag my paddle out if we’re going to get previous the second spherical.

After watching the remainder of the heats I am going looking for some knowledgeable recommendation from the REDSUPLadies workforce from New York. They’re composed, sleek and tactically shrewd and I wish to know the way they do it. “The key to our success is teamwork and understanding how every particular person works,” says workforce captain Jennifer Hung. “We deal with synchronicity and communication. You let everybody know what’s developing and what’s occurring so everybody on understands tips on how to transfer forwards.”

Her clever phrases give me one thing to consider as I recuperate, as all aspiring world champions ought to, with a cocktail within the setting solar.

@media display and (min-width: 1025px) {
#parallax-file-20490 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_large/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-grand-final.jpg?itok=rL5ABS8_);
}
}
@media display and (min-width: 401px) and (max-width: 1024px) {
#parallax-file-20490 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_medium/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-grand-final.jpg?itok=xFx2vSvn);
}
}
@media display and (max-width:400px) {
#parallax-file-20490 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_small/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-grand-final.jpg?itok=2hEUZIS6);
}
}

Board silly

Again on the bay on day two, there are 4 groups in our warmth however the solar (and presumably final night time’s cocktails) have gone to my head so I race off down the seaside too quick, failing to present Marion time to rise up onto the board and leaving us adrift of the competitors. We additionally take a poor line across the first buoy and by the point we hit the again straight we have now some severe catching as much as do. Nevertheless, we settle right into a rhythm and begin to reel within the two groups in entrance.

This appears like an actual battle and on the third buoy we take an aggressive inside line in an try and take out the groups forward. The gamble pays off and we’re choosing up velocity simply as we flip parallel to the seaside. A second later all 4 workforce members, our paddles and the board go flying. In our haste to get previous our rivals we didn’t take a look at what the water was doing and have been worn out by a tsunami (OK, a 2ft tiddler).

Within the dwelling straight Marion is struggling to search out her stability so I compensate by pulling even more durable. I additionally begin to name the strokes, mounting a last-ditch try to supply a quick end. It’s to not be and we drift in to the seaside in final place. Our podium possibilities could have sunk with out hint however I give myself a pat on the again for my heroic efficiency.

Then I give myself a slap across the face after I discuss to somebody who is aware of what they’re doing as a result of it seems my actions ruined our probabilities of progressing. “It’s all about gliding,” says Jason Cole, workforce captain of Paddle Barbados, a quartet of native SUP instructors who’re favourites to turn out to be champions. “It’s probably not about energy. In the event you don’t get a glide then the timing will likely be off. If somebody behind you pulls too onerous when you’re adjusting or altering sides you then’re going to fall backwards,” he says, as I nod sheepishly and study my flip-flops.

@media display and (min-width: 1025px) {
#parallax-file-20491 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_large/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-dragon-warrior-sprint.jpg?itok=ZljbdXQh);
}
}
@media display and (min-width: 401px) and (max-width: 1024px) {
#parallax-file-20491 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_medium/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-dragon-warrior-sprint.jpg?itok=uT9OryZ-);
}
}
@media display and (max-width:400px) {
#parallax-file-20491 {
background-image: url(http://cdn1.coachmag.co.uk/websites/coachmag/recordsdata/kinds/parallax_small/public/2018/05/dragon-world-championships-dragon-warrior-sprint.jpg?itok=xQ-yp_Fp);
}
}

Warrior spirit

I spend the following couple of hours watching Cole and his team-mates destroy the competitors and turn out to be the primary ever Dragon World Champions.

Fortuitously I’ve acquired an opportunity to redeem myself within the Dragon Warrior Dash, a handicap race the place each workforce within the competitors begins at intervals in keeping with the place they positioned in the primary occasion. The course snakes round just a few buoys earlier than heading again to the seaside, however there’s a shock in retailer as a result of 25m from the shore we’ll have to pull our board over two different boards within the water manned by Hibbard and his Purple Paddle colleague George Shillito. They’ll purpose to halt our progress by prodding us into the water with Gladiator-style pugilist sticks.

Our penultimate place end (the journalists did the occupation proud by propping up the desk) in the primary occasion means we’re going off second. Having discovered from our errors we take it steadily initially and we quickly overtake the journo crew. As we close to the flip for dwelling we’re nonetheless in first place however there’s a pack of paddlers behind us. Below strain we take a large flip for dwelling and about half a dozen groups sneak in on the within.

By the point we attain Hibbard and Shillito the ocean is a froth of boards, our bodies and paddles. We drag the Dragon over the boards, going shoulder to shoulder with our outdated foes, the Russians, and storm up the seaside for a creditable eighth-place end. We could not have troubled the winners but when your ultimate standing was decided by how a lot enjoyable you had, then I’ve simply conquered the world.

The 2018 Dragon World Championships will likely be held at Lake Fuschl, Austria, from 31st August-2nd September 2018. For particulars, go to dragonworldseries.com.