We have just completed our Distance Race Series for 2022. Three events, three different locations and three very different races. 2022 also represents a new beginning for GBSUP, as while the GBSUP brand and series are well established in the UK, the actual company and board of directors are completely new for 2022. Through this statement, we aim to give you, the reader, a deeper understanding of GBSUP as it now stands, how we operate and some of the challenges we are addressing as we move towards 2023 and beyond.
A New Beginning
SUP racing in the UK is firmly established, from stand-alone events to the National Series. Since 2017 GBSUP has been the brand behind the national series, coordinating events across the country and finding our national champions. Through 2021 the existing GBSUP team and company were dissolved, and the series was picked up by two of its volunteers to keep the wheels turning. For 2022 a brand new company was formed, and a new directing team of three was established to bring the 2022 National Series to life. 2022 is the first year under new leadership and the first year of the new directing teams' plans to grow GBSUP and SUP racing participation in the UK. In the background, we are working on short, mid and long terms plan to boost numbers, mould the series and bring in new events and disciplines. Our plans extend to a 7-year plan taking us through to 2030, with 2023 representing our first true step under new leadership.
So what have we done in 2022?
Whilst we have plenty of ideas to build the new GBSUP plans, we have also had to prioritise our workload. 2022, therefore, has been a transitional year for us whilst we review what is hanging over from the previous GBSUP formation and move towards our goals.
So far in 2022, we have ticked off some of our most pressing items, such as:
Coordinated the 2022 Distance and Technical Series
Organising the partnership with British Canoeing to continue with the National Champs at Nottingham in September (Sprint and Distance National Champs)
Implemented a pilot scheme for GBSUP Regional Series and racing
Created our Race From A Box initiative to support new races and organisers
Established regular Junior activity and racing and some of our national series events
Supporting clubs with growing junior racing through direct coaching support and organiser consulting
Parachuted in the Falmouth Bay Open event for July 2022 after the Carbis Bay event was cancelled.
Created a brand new website to start bringing all relevant GBSUP information to one source
Coordinated the selection events and criteria for ISA worlds & ICF Champs
Established the GBSUP series as the recognised provider for SUP events and international team selection with British Canoeing
Coordinated 4 APP London wildcard entries through our Distance Series results
Created brand new event documentation, risk assessments, race director guides and more from scratch
There is more we want to achieve throughout 2022, and our list continues to grow as we understand the series and market requirements further as leaders of the national series.
Completion of our Distance Series
The three events of our 2022 Distance Series have allowed us to get hands-on with running the series and GBSUP. We are learning with each event, and we already have plans and changes we want to implement for 2023. We receive constant feedback, and I'm pleased to report that we are already aware of most of it. Whilst we do want to implement some changes to the series makeup, we have a couple of things to consider:
How will changes affect the events and series during a current cycle
What other priorities are there that need our attention first
We decided early on that we would adopt the previous Rules & Regulations, Scoring and Event Setup details from the previous GBSUP formation. This decision allowed us to run in 2022; otherwise, given our timeframes for our first event (entries opening in spring 2022), we would not have been ready, and 2022 would have been a year without a national race series. The 2022 Distance Series has allowed us to see some of the nuances of the previous GBSUP formation we want to address for 2023. There have also been some unforeseen circumstances which are new learnings for us, and we are bringing these into our post-event reviews.
Current Series Standings
To offer you, our paddlers and supporters, a running view of the series standings, we have published a preliminary set of results for the 2022 Distance Series. We had feedback early on to do so, and we always planned this for the 2022 series. These are not, however, the final series results and standings. We chose not to announce the series standings at the BaySUP race as we felt the rush to do this would be detrimental to the new direction we are trying to take GBSUP. This has been evident in comments around the current scoring matrix whereby paddlers who are classified as DNF receive points. This scoring matrix is the last-placed finisher points, -3 for a DNF classification.
In the case of this series, the BaySUP event received fewer entries than the CIWW and BOTT events, so paddlers who received a DNF at BAYSUP have scored higher points than paddlers who finished the CIWW and BOTT events.
Our final Distance Series standings will take this into account, and as such, the DNF points system will change. The final Distance Series standings will be announced, and prize giving will be held during the National Championships at Nottingham in September.
Previously GBSUP did not organise the races themselves. This was down to the hosting club or team. In 2022 GBSUP has become more hands-on, with the Cardiff event being one event GBSUP organised in partnership with the local team at CIWW. This hands-on approach is also happening at Falmouth and Norfolk, with the GBSUP team directly involved in pulling these events together. By taking this approach, we hope to bring more consistency to the series, and for 2023 this is very much one of our main goals.
Rules & Regulations
Another area which has been fed back to us is regarding some of the Rules & Regulations. The BaySUP race was subject to challenging weather conditions, bringing into question a specific rule that has been part of the GBSUP and previous UKSUP series since 2014.
This is rule is:
6.5.6) Competitors that take more than five consecutive paddle strokes whilst not standing may be disqualified. Competitors disqualified for taking strokes whilst not standing (kneeling or laying) should still receive a finish time but not points.
Under normal to moderate weather conditions, this rule is in place primarily to stop paddlers from gaining an advantage by padding on their knees or prone by means of getting out the wind compared to those standing up. This can also be said for choppy conditions whereby paddlers standing are at a higher risk of falling off and, in return losing time compared to someone kneeling or lying and paddling continuously.
At all events, the final say and implementation of rules are subject to the Race Directors' discretion. In the case of the weather conditions seen at the BaySUP race, a decision was made by the Race Directing team to abandon this rule. Post-race feedback has indicated some displeasure as it's deemed some paddlers took advantage of this by paddling the entire course on their knees whilst others tried to stand and therefore potentially fell behind those not doing so. GBSUP has rules in place by which paddlers can appeal the results during a specific period after the race. Paddlers who are unhappy and wish to protest must do so according to the rules. In this case, the '5-paddle stoke' rule was disregarded, and as such, the use of such techniques was open to all paddlers to use should they see fit.
Whilst the above scenario represents one rule and specific race conditions, there have been instances whereby the penalty system could have been applied (as stated within the rules). An example from this year's series is the Cardiff race start, whereby several paddlers could have been deemed to be over the start line when the start siren was sounded. In this case, the race director chose not to implement any penalties due to the start boat drifting in the wind, effectively pulling the far end of the startline back from its original position. As mentioned above, if competitors wish to raise or protest this or other possible infringements during a race, they must do so in accordance with the Appeals rulings.
The current GBSUP rules can be found on our website here.
Rules & Regulations for 2023
The current Rules & Regulations come from a historical SUP development phase led by the US industry. GBSUP plans to review and (potentially) update the current Rules & Regulations for 2023 to fit our own needs better for the new direction and plans for GBSUP and SUP racing in the UK. As previously explained, we chose to adopt the previous GBSUP formations in some cases to ensure we could run a series in 2022.
A couple of polite asks
Like us, you share our passion for SUP racing in the UK and want to see the GBSUP series be successful. We understand your frustrations at times, but please do remember that 2022 is our first year at the helm, and we are very much at the start of our plans for GBSUP. 2022 is not going to be perfect, and we expect to find new challenges as we strive to make the GBSUP brand stronger, the series better and build our event portfolio.
We are all volunteers who for example:
run the series,
do the results,
create event paperwork,
support our race organisers,
develop the regional series,
coordinate the juniors,
run the website,
create digital media content,
manage our social accounts,
monitor our finances,
develop international selection criteria
This and more are all coordinated by a core team of just 5 people. Please remember that whilst we want to develop GBSUP, we are volunteers and, therefore, all have day jobs, other paddling commitments, other charity work & volunteering and most importantly our families. We prioritise the most important items to run the series for you, which is our first goal. Our purpose is to develop GBSUP and SUP racing, and for us, the real work begins in 2023.
Finally, if you have something to raise for us or are unsure about a specific rule or a results clarification, please reach out to us directly before posting on social media. It might be a simple misunderstanding or an admin error which we are happy to correct. We are happy to be asked questions and approached about concerns directly or through our centrally monitored email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your patience and support.
If you would like to help GBSUP through an operational or event volunteer role, please get in touch with us through our dedicated volunteer application page on our website here.