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Ollie Shilston Race Report – Battle of the Paddle 2014

Posted on October 13, 2014 - Filed Under Stand Up Paddling, Surftech Boards | By

Ollie Shilston – Race Report – Battle of The Paddle 2014

I’ve just arrived back from California, it was a great trip with some exciting racing. I was lucky enough to stay at the Surftech house at Dana Point, with Joe and Jack Bark and lots of others Surftech riders.  What a week and what an experience to race in California at the Battle of the Paddle.
The Battle of The Paddle is undoubtedly the biggest Elite Stand Up Paddle Board Race in the world with all of the biggest names in the world of SUP racing over the two days.

Elite Race
On Saturday I raced in the elite race, I had a qualifying race in the morning followed by the final in the afternoon with the top 32 from each heat getting through. To add to the tough task of making it to the final the surf was big with 4-5′ consistent sets rolling in allowing for no mistakes to be made. My initial aim was to make the final as nobody from the UK has ever made it in the elite men’s field.
I had a solid start in my heat rounding the golden buoy in about 25th in a tightly packed bunch. We had 3 laps to do going back in and out through the surf it was all about not making a mistake and making sure you caught a wave all the way to beach without falling. I felt strong on the run legs at the end of each lap and paddling out through the surf. Each lap I was moving up through the field up to 17th and qualified for he final. 
The final was intimidating stood there on the start line. In these races it’s so important to get a good start and all I was concentrating on was getting away well. The gun went and I ran in and was up and paddling quickly when all of a sudden the guy next to me fell pushing his board across mine causing our leases to entangle. Both of us were panicking to quickly untangle the boards but by the time we did we had lost 50m on the field and effectively our races were over.
I paddled as hard as I could to make up the ground but I ended up a disappointed 54th overall in the final.

Distance Race
The distance race was a 9 mile 3 lapped course in hot, sunny weather with head high waves. The board categories were split into 14′ and 12’6 for men and women and set off at different times.
At the start some large set waves rolled through the line up and I got away cleanly making out towards the first buoy turn in the first four. In the big races the pace is constantly changing and it’s important not to get dropped from the draft train. I concentrated hard as we caught some 14′ paddlers who had started before us and pulled away from the chasing paddlers. 
Things stayed much the same for the next two laps with each person taking turns in leading the group. As we hit the last lap I was waiting for someone to make a move and it was Casper that went first, with the Australian Michael Booth going with him leaving myself sitting in behind Dylan Frick from South Africa. The gap starting to grow so I passed Dylan and paddled hard all the way to the finish. We were neck and neck rounding the last buoy through the surf and into the finish. I jumped off my board first and sprinted across the line to get third overall and 1st in my age group in the 12’6 distance race.

Ollie Shilston – Surftech Team Rider

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