From Friday to Sunday, 3 days of action-packed Indoor Sprint Race SUP took place at the London Boat Show.
The Downs: Only 8 Riders. Invitational only. Men. From the UK. No women (yes, sorry, I have to make that point here). No qualifiers. Due to restrictions in budget and timing the race was limited to 3×20 minutes of racing per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Plus, which such a high density of power, the seeding was random out of the hat, so you also needed a good bit of luck.
The UPs: An indoor race which real race board in a decent-sized pool. Much bigger and better than the tiny Paris pool. Perfectly organized by Nick Cattaneo, John Hibbard & team. Only 8 riders, the best of the best of British SUP racing meant great action & tight races. Different from ocean races, where you only briefly see the racers during start and finish or the odd lap in the sand,  spectators could watch the racing and turn action from really close by.
Who was invited?
  1. John Hibbard
  2. John Harvey
  3. Pete Holliday
  4. Rich Morton
  5. Charlie Grey
  6. Mark Slater
  7. Ryan James
  8. Dave Cornthwaite

Here is a short Video of the Racing (Rich Morton vs. John Hibbard):

It was 3 days of physically demanding, fun, action-packed, close sprint races where leadership changed many times and the riders were only separated by fractions of points.
In the end the winner was Richard Morton (Bark), followed by last years winner John Hibbard (Starboard) and Pete Holliday (Starboard), who was in great shape just back from surfing El Salvador. Charlie Grey (Fanatic) missed the podium by 0.3 points. As everyone should know last year’s winner John Hibbard by now, we briefly spoke to Rich and Pete after the Race.
Congrats, Rich on winning! How was the competition ? 
The contest was awesome, racing indoors on such a technical course in front of a crowd is super fun!
What was the formula / skill to win in this tight race? 
The races where only about a minute long so any mistakes on the turns was game over. I just tried to stay relaxed, start fast, make smooth turns and paddle hard for the line.
Which board did you use?
My 12’6″ Bark is an ideal board for this kind of racing as it tracks well and is really stable on the turns, I also found a slightly shorter paddle helped with acceleration.
Congratulations, Pete on your 3rd place. How was the competition ?
This year’s competition was amazing, the format changed slightly with only 8 of the UK’s top paddlers, but 3 knock out style man on man races three times a day for three days! I don’t think any of us had realised quite how physically & mentally tough this format would be, but equally exciting & action-packed for the audience & the paddlers involved.
How did it go for you? 
I had an amazing first day, I placed 2nd, 1st & 1st across the three races.  Everything just went perfectly, I felt strong, my turns were perfect, the sort of day you spend all season wishing for.  I came out with the yellow jersey for the day, a great feeling.
Day 2, I was suffering from a slight shoulder injury & I struggled to get in the same mind set.  I had a fall in my 2nd heat in the 2nd race which seeded me against John Hibbard (who was currently in 2nd place) in the first heat of the last race of the day, not good as John’s amazing at sprints and won last year.  He took me out & it knocked back my points for the day.
After lots of physio from fellow teammate Ryan James I woke up feeling much better on the 3rd day ready to rock. The random draw seeded me against John again, perfect for Rich Morton who was now in second overall! Again John took me down, but I was determined to fight back.  In the second race I came up against John racing for 3rd & 4th places.  I took the win in the closest race of the whole event, I had to lie down for a bit after that one! In the last race of the final day we met again & again I managed to get another win & valuable points.  In the end I managed 3rd place overall which was a great result, I couldn’t have paddled any harder that last day.
Hats off to Rich Morton who took the overall win & John Hibbard taking 2nd, both those guys are insanely good at sprint racing, super consistent, smooth turns.  It was great to compete with these guys & all the other paddlers.
What was the formula / skill to make the podium in this tight race? 
The races were won or lost on clean turns.  Day 1 I just nailed every one, and managed to get back the right mind set for the final day.  It’s important to not think too much, just go out there relaxed.
Which board/paddle did you use?
I used my Starboard Surf Race.  At 26.5 wide it’s pretty narrow & technical to turn but it’s very fast off the line. I paddle with a ZRE Powersurge, it’s the lightest paddle on the market and works perfectly for my fast stroke rate as I can turn it over easily.
What’s next?
We’ve got some local Frostbite races being run by south coast SUP club, across January & February, & I’ll also be training hard coming up to the SUP CUP in St Tropez in May. It will be good to get some distance races going as the season really starts to kick off.   My sponsor Starboard also have their new 2012 range of boards hitting the shores in the next few weeks, I can’t wait to take delivery & start using them in anger.  The 14ft Ace Pro is looking like a very, very fast board.
Thanks, Pete, hope to see you soon at a frostbite races and if not then for sure in St. Tropez (click here for more info)
More info on Pete’s upcoming events:
RESULTS at end of each day.
DAY1:  1) Pete Holiday 2) John Hibbard 3) Mark Slater
DAY2:  1) John Hibbard  2)  Rich Morton  3) Pete Holliday
DAY 3:  1) Rich Morton 2) John Hibbard 3) Pete Holiday

More 2012 events and races can be found here: