What do you do if you want to attend a SUP race, but have no-one to look after your three kids as you may have forgotten to tell the missus in time for her to arrange a day off work? Oops!
The answer is – take the kids with you, but also offer to take one of their friends too. Why not?! There’s a spare seat in the van after all, and how bad could it be!?
The race was hosted by the Bournemouth based Stand up paddle club BaySUP, who were running a beach SUP race as part of a demo day organised by H2O Watersports in Sandbanks. H2O were running a number of taster sessions throughout the day and I saw this as a chance to get the kids involved and keep them occupied. As any parent knows there’s nothing worse than a fed-up 6 year old…. Oh, actually there is; a fed up six year old and 8 year old and two grumpy 11 year olds would be much worse!
I decided that they would do the SUP and Windsurfing tasters as they fitted in perfectly with the race schedule. I picked up the phone and called H2O expecting them to be closed, or all the sessions to be booked up. To my surprise the phone was answered and the kids were in!
This day was going to require military planning so I drew up the following itinery:-
BaySUP Race and Taster Session Itinery
07:00 Set off for Bournemouth
It was an early start on the Saturday as I wanted to make sure we were parked near to the event. If we were too far away everything would have just been more complicated. So at 07:15am (a little late) there were 4 kids sat in the van ready to hit the road! The journey went well, with only one wee stop required, and that was for me!
09:00 Arrival at Sandbanks
We arrived on time and parked right outside the event. We had an hour before the first taster session, so mingled with the demo teams and other competitors for a while before getting ready.
10:00 SUP Taster Session
I got all the kids ready and sent them out into Poole harbour with the guys from the British SUP Association (BSUPA). This gave me a good half hour to get my own board off the van and register for the racing. The kids were buzzing when they came back. The guys from BSUPA were great with the kids and they had a great time out on the water.
IT was now 10:45 and the kids had already built up quite an appetite, so I deposited them on the beach by the race start and let them crack open the cool bag, with two simple instructions. “Don’t eat everything, it’s not really dinnertime” and “close the cool bag when you’ve taken something out”, and disappeared for the race briefing. Ermmm? Why is it that kids do the opposite of everything you tell them!? Cue my warm sandwiches.
11:00 Technical Beach race briefing
11:30 Start of Technical Beach Race
The technical beach race started at 11:30 and consisted of five laps of an awesome course, with upwind and downwind sections and 3 foot waves to punch through on the way out and surf on the way back in. Positions were traded right up to the finish. I managed a 4th overall and a 1st in the 14’ class. I was very happy with that! When I got back to the beach the kids hadn’t even noticed that I’d gone, too busy playing in the sand. As soon as I finished, in the sea they went having great fun playing in the waves on their body boards.
13:00 Windsurf taster session
Just before the start of the taster, I found Jack aged 8 sat on the step at registration with a nasty cut under his big toe! Typical! Amazing timing! And the bloody thing wouldn’t stop bleeding either. It was suggested by someone that he should sit down for half an hour with his foot up in the air… Yeah right! Like that’s gonna happen! He’s been looking forward to this all morning and the ramifications of missing it are far worse than the pain. I came up with a cunning plan, wrap it in a bandage to soak up the blood, stick a wetsuit shoe over the top and send him out to windsurf. No namby pambying here! So off they go, straight onto the water for their taster.
I paddled out on a SUP to see how they were getting on and they were all doing really well, especially my daughter’s friend who has never tried it before and is not really exposed to the water sports world. It really was smiles all round. Great to see!
They were buzzing when they came off the water and the first thing Jack asked me was “daddy, can we get a kid’s windsurfing board?” He’s not stopped nagging since!
14:30 SUP relay race
The format was simple. Starting at the flags with a short run down the beach, out through the waves and around a buoy about 300 metres off shore, a crazy paddle/surf back to the beach to tag your next paddler. This resulted in some close racing with lots of spectator participation and cheering on team mates. Positions were traded and there was some great surfing on the way back in. It turned out that we had a pretty good team and won both rounds with ease, thanks to my team mates who paddled hard and created a healthy lead for me to just maintain.
15:00 Freeride and More fun
As soon as relay finished the kids picked up their body boards and went surfing. I went back out on the race board and, along with a few others, had an amazing time surfing the waves. One advantage of SUP in this situation is that you stand so much higher on the water, so it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids at all times.
16:30 depart for home
So after a full day of Sun, Sand, Sea and Watersports it was time to pack up and drive home. The kids were really stoked and that includes the big one! Just before we set off I asked the kids to gauge how good the day was with the volume of their shouts. I counted to three and all hell broke loose, I needed my ear plugs! Everyone walking by was looking at the van wondering what was happening.
So taking the kids with me wasn’t too bad after all. They pretty much looked after themselves, but I was able to keep an eye on them at all times too. There were also loads of people I know around who also kept an eye on them for me.
The National Watersports Festival will be held at Beachlands on Hayling Island from 30th Aug to the 1st Sept 2013. It is squarely aimed at the intermediate freeride watersports enthusiast, and this year includes Kite surfing, Stand up Paddle Boarding, Windsurfing and Kayaking. It’ll be just like the day I describe above, only BIGGER!
So grab the kids and the sun block, book a demo and get stuck in!
See you on the water