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World Stand Up Series – Bilbao SUP Race

Posted on June 25, 2013 - Filed Under Stand Up Paddling, SUP Fins, Surftech Boards | By

Ollie Shilston – Bilbao Race Report

After taking the ferry to Roscoff from Plymouth and then making the 10 hour drive down through France we arrived in the beautifully clean city of Bilbao in Northern Spain.
This was the second leg of the European leg of the world stand up series featuring another quality field of Hawaiians and top Europeans.

Race 1 – 18km Long Distance

The first of the races on Saturday was an 18km paddle up and down one of the Basque country’s nicest rivers in breezy winds and strong currents.
After an interesting way to start (sitting on our boards) the pace was fast up front with two draft chains forming almost immediately. The trains zig zagged down the river for a couple of miles before the first buoy turn. Just before the turn I almost had to sprint to keep up with the lead group and as the gaps started to appear I knew I had to get on the back of the main group as we turned or else it was going to be a hard grind on my own back up the river for the longest stretch of the course.
The hardest thing about this race was the pace was continuously changing. One minute we were hardly paddling to the next we were in almost a flat out sprint as the leaders of the group kept changing.
At the top of the course apparently there was a fisherman causing problems casting through everyone but to be honest I was concentrating so much on my position I didn’t even see him!
As we worked are way back down the course the group was down to 8 paddlers and the pace was more consistently fast as people were trying to break the main group and get away to the finish. Just as we past the famous Guggenheim Museum I lost concentration for a split second and got dropped off the main pack. It doesn’t take much to drop back slightly and get hit by a wall of chop and that can make a 3 meter gap quickly turn into 10 meters.
I was tired at this point and I could feel my hands had blistered badly but I dug deep for the final few miles to hang in there for the final sprint to the finish. I was so close to dragging myself back onto the main group again as we rounded the last turn and into the finish. I ended up 7th in 2hrs 1min 6 seconds, 23 seconds behind the leader Connor Baxter of Hawaii and pleased with my efforts.

Race 2 sprints

Trying to recover quickly from a long race the day before is not always an easy thing. On Sunday I was pretty sore from the long race. Not even the massage I had the night before had helped and the blisters on my hand were still raw.
The sprint course was quite short with some tight turns to make it interesting for the spectators who lined the side of the river. In every race the first turn was so important because there were so many people trying to turn tightly and it was easy to fall.
To get through to the final I had to get through three rounds finishing in the top four each time which I did. The first real test was in the semi final which was the harder of the two where I had Paul, Aaron and Pete all from the Uk/Ireland, two hawaiians and Eric Terrien the top European. It was all so close and quite an aggressive race from start to finish. I was happy to get though to the main final and finish 6th overall.

All in all it was a good weekend. I would like to thank Paul and Marie who I travelled with. Paul especially for driving pretty much 20+ hours night and day! Thank you Surftech for all the support.


Ollie Shilston – Surftech Team Rider

Rides 12’6″ Surftech Bark Carbon


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