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get into racing

When it comes to SUP racing knowing how hard to paddle and for how long can be a really tricky thing to work out. For most of the race you should be paddling at a general race pace… but what is your general race pace and how do you keep it up? These are questions all levels of racers should try and answer before entering a race. In this SUP race video Ben Fisher gives us some of his general race pace tips and tricks to get you paddling harder for longer and keeping a happy general race pace.

Starts don’t get anymore dramatic for both paddlers and spectators, than when SUP racing starting with a running start from the beach. But when starting like this it’s vital to get a good start off the beach because a fast beach starter can launch themselves into a good lead that sometimes can be hard for other paddlers to claw back later in the race.

Starboard UK Team rider Ben Pye gives us a run through of his super slick beach starts.

Remember : Depending on the race and what the race organisers allow you may or may not be allowed to wear a leash.

In this new SUPboarder ‘How to video” series we look at SUP racing techniques with Ben Fisher, the 2017 Naish N1SCO European Champion. Ben shares with us his top racing techniques and tips which will help you get more out of racing and hopefully closer to that podium finish!

This second video is all about SUP buoy turns. Races can be won and lost at the buoy turn. So being able to complete a fast smooth buoy turn is vital to keep that lead, and for less time swimming and more time racing! The great thing about buoy turns is that they are easy to practice and you don’t need much space on the water to try them. Head to your local estuary and find some unused soft rubber boat buoys and set yourself up a course involving front and backside turns and you will soon get them nailed.

N1SCO racing in the UK has grown dramatically over the last few years. SUPboarder has been involved in capturing N1SCO events with write ups and event videos in the past, and we’ve seen the stoke that these events create from paddlers all over Europe. But we’ve never actually taken part in a N1SCO event… until now! Will Rogers from SUPboarder decided to put the race bib on and give it a go, heading to the last stop on the N1SCO UK Series held in sunny Swanage on the UK’s South Coast. Will is not a racer, he’s much more likely to be found surfing or paddling a solo SUP adventure somewhere at the weekend rather than driving to race events. But after this event we think its fair to say that Will will be back for more of the N1SCO racing experience!

Check the full results and photos for the event here : 

Read and watch more Naish N1SCO racing on SUPboarder here : N1SCO on SUPboarder

Feature image by Andy Stallman

98 Paddleboards in just after the gun

Passionate SUP racer Dr Bryce Dyer is back, but this time sharing his top tips on how to gain more speed and up your overall performance throughout the long race season…

There comes a time as a season wears on that your gains in speed become increasingly limited, or you start to get some mental fatigue as a result of ‘train, race, repeat’. The reality is that it’s hard sometimes to keep on it, day after day, week after week and month after month. Even elite athletes in many sports may only intend to peak two or three times a year and their season length will be dictated by this. UK-based SUP racers on the other hand can have a long season. For example, many of the big events started early April and the UK SUP national series can often head into October. That’s 8 months and is long by any sports standards. It’s going to be tough to keep at your best for that long and the science says you shouldn’t if you want to be at your best when it matters. This all said, going fast on a SUP board isn’t just a case of paddling fast – it’s a symbiotic relationship between man and technology and is basically one big system. What does this mean to you ?

It means that you don’t need to focus just on paddling hard to get faster but an understanding that to get faster, you need to maximise the things moving you forwards and/or reduce the things slowing you down.

In my own research, I suggest an athlete’s success is based upon the management of ‘assistive and resistive factors’. So with all of this mind, here are 10 low cost, lo-fi options for you to pick up a little bit of speed for not a lot of effort…

Downsize the fin

Hydrodynamic drag being what it is, the less surface area or things you have moving around in the water, the faster you’ll go. I’m actually a fan of scaling the fin to the size and force output of the paddler but nonetheless, trying a fin that is a little smaller than what you currently have might make your board a little tippier but it might add some speed too. Read more about race fins with Bryce’s feature here : sup-technical-bryce-dyer-looks-sup-race-fins

SUP Fin Testing - Bryce Dyer

Lose some lumber

This is a touchy subject for many of us (and one I personally avoided until I entered my 40’s). I’d spent 20 years relying on exercise as the sole basis to keeping my weight stable but as I age, our metabolism slows down and you become a true reflection of your lifestyle choices (read ‘sins’ !). The reality is that SUP paddling performance is influenced by a paddler’s power to weight. To move faster you can increase your power but this will be increasingly difficult to do the longer you are involved in a sport. Secondly, you can reduce your mass. This means you cut down the amount of energy you expend as you have to accelerate yourself every time you apply a stroke in the water. Taking a look at your diet in terms of its quality and quantity could shave more kilos than buying a new lighter board.

Get a computer or GPS with stroke data

There is an argument that suggests SUP racing is instinctive and that you don’t need technology governing your decision making, However, knowing aspects such as heart rate, current speed and stroke length can tell you a lot of what is going on with you or with the conditions. Consider races like this year’s Head of the Dart – At the race briefing we were instructed to always try and hold the centre of the river as this was both fastest and safest. This advice was born out when in the latter stages, a fast group that was behind me (comprising Team Starboard’s Ben Pye and Crispin Jones) took the shortest distance through one of the bends towards the end of the race. However, when I decided to start to move in to cover them, I noticed quickly on my GPS that my board speed was dropping fast and my stroke length drastically reduced – Put simply, I was moving out of the main river flow. Yes, I would have saved a few yards but the loss in speed wasn’t worth it. I opted to stay out where I was and increased my gap to them. Without that information, I wouldn’t have known.

Go with the unfamiliar

Sometimes racers can get locked in to a pecking order finishing order mentality. They finish in front and behind of the same people time after time as that’s what their brain tells them to expect and accept. Changing the race distance or style of racing or racing outside your normal region can allow you to make breakthroughs you wouldn’t get by doing the norm.

Sand the fin

Boards run aground or can strike objects in the water and this can take the odd nick or chunk out of a fin. Those imperfections will disrupt the water flow and as a result, will create drag and slow you down. Get some sand paper or emery cloth and a flat sanding block and spend a minute or two getting them out.

Clean the board

You may not have noticed but when you paddle on rivers, lakes and the sea, the board does pick up grime. This grime, (even if you can’t see it) can affect the skin drag of the board and again can slow you down. Hydrophobic coatings are used on some watercraft but you can get somewhere close to this by using washing up liquid or degreaser. There is also some social responsibility attached to this as cleaning your gear prevents bacteria and contamination being spread from place to place.

Head of the Dart 2014

Eat for performance

To be honest, this is something I’ve been aware of for years but literally only implemented in the last couple of months. This is different to the weight management issue I mentioned in tip 2. Eating for performance involves eating the right stuff pre training/racing and doing the same after it. If you’re worried about your weight, this may seem counterintuitive but with a fired up metabolism and some sensible eating, I’ve personally found this lets me train harder, for longer and to recover faster. Keep that up for week after week and you this can allow you to do more and therefore get faster.

Develop functional strength

The jury is still out on this one for me but I do performance some strength work at the important times of my racing year. For example I train with ginormous paddles sometimes. The reason is to develop sports specific strength that I have found helps apply extra force when needed or to be flexible to adopting a wider range of stroke rates. Go easy with paddles though – they can be joint wreckers. However, there are alternatives such as towing tennis balls off the tail of the board. This will increase the boards drag substantially but means that you need to apply more force to the catch of your stroke to keep your momentum up.

Try different clothing

I’ve been known to wear the odd bit of lycra in a race since the second I started racing in the sport. I probably (and quite reasonably) looked ridiculous. The reason for this though is that aerodynamic drag can be a factor – even at the low speeds we experience (and particularly when you’re as tall as I am). Hit a headwind section and your body could be subjected to a breeze of around 20-30mph and that’s the same as a racing cyclist will see. Board shorts and t shirts are only a fashion statement. Plus, if you get wet, they’ll hold more water and for longer and that could add a kilo or two back on the board. I’m not saying run out and don the spandex but a bit of thought on what you wear can make a difference.

Practise aggressive starts and drafting

Learning to hop on the draft of a faster paddler can send you rocketing up the field in terms of position. Even if you tire and have to drop back sooner or later, you could gain yards that your competition may have to spend a vast proportion of their own race chasing back down.

Words – Dr Bryce Dyer.

So, before you go and splash out on a new faster looking race board, go back to basics and consider all of the above. These low cost, low-fi options may be just the solution to increase your speed, overall performance and position during this years race season. 

In this new SUPboarder ‘How to video” series we look at SUP racing techniques with Ben Fisher the 2017 Naish N1SCO European Champion. Ben shares with us his top racing techniques and tips which will help you get more out of racing and hopefully closer to that podium finish!

This first video is all about SUP sprint starts off the line. Getting a good start is half way to winning race. Being first off the line not only gives you nice flat water in front of you, and puts you in a good mind set for the rest of the race. It also allows you to set control of the pace and saves you having to paddle twice as hard and claw your way back up through the pack later on in the race.

There were smiles all round after another great weekend of N1SCO racing in Swanage. This may have been the final of the N1SCO European championships 2017 but it still ticked all the boxes when it comes to fun racing for all ability paddlers and racers. There is no other event in the world that you will find first time paddlers, family cruisers and performance athletes on the same start line. It’s certainly a sight to be seen and experienced. But don’t just take our word for it!
Check out three mini interviews by Helen Dennison with 3 very different paddlers.

The event video below with Soaring Productions and Ian Gray Promotional Filming and photography gives you a really good feel for the event.

10th/11th June saw 100 Naish One paddlers from 8 countries including one die hard competitor from Japan race at the N1SCO European Championships. Taka took the 22 hour commute from Tokyo to race on the sheltered waters of Swanage Bay, nestled in a beautiful valley on the UK’s South coast. Competitors ranged from 10 years of age through to 69 years young and from first time racers through family cruisers to trained SUP athletes vying for the title. Regardless of paddling experience smiles were all around as new friendships were made as tales of racing were shared on the beach and in the N1SCO Beach Bar. Racing followed the N1SCO format with three race disciplines; Sprint, Mid distance and a Long distance race on the Sunday with guest appearance of local pirate Slack Sparrow. Saturday evening saw the racers and their families sit down to a social dinner in the beach bar overlooking the waters of the bay with free beer from event sponsor Whitstable Bay before enjoying live music and the atmosphere of the towns yearly Fish Festival. Attention now moves to the final UK N1SCO Championships of the year at Bray lake on the 8th July for the N1SCO Inland Championships which expects to welcome a sell out fleet once again to enjoy the N1SCO race format. Words : Alex Tobutt / Naish UK

Remember N1SCO racing is for everyone and you don’t even need to have your own Naish One Design board (N1SCO) as you can rent one from the event organisers.

The next event will be held at Bray Lake, near Reading next month on the 8th of July.

Get involved here :

Feature image : Mark Ellis 

Naish N1sco
SUP racing is all about having the fastest latest kit, being a committed racer and getting on the podium… yes?!! No, not necessarily!
Naish N1SCO racing has brought a whole different aspect to racing, making it accessible and fun for every level paddler. Suitable for all ages and abilities, and with a relaxed athmosphere N1SCO racing allows everyone to get involved. It’s more about having fun on and off the water, and meeting like minded paddlers, than being the first to the finishing line on the newest kit (although that’s always nice too!) 
 Naish N1sco
With the entire fleet required to race on a Naish One Design 12’6” x 30” inflatable SUP, and with different age categories, it’s a level playing field. So if you’ve got a shiny hard race board, leave it at home! And if you don’t have a board, no worries you can rent one.  With the racing format consisting of sprint, medium and long distance races, every paddler has lots of opportunity to get on the water and show their paddling potential. You certainly won’t be standing around getting cold!

Yes, some of the top racers from across the country will be there taking part and battling it out for a place on the podium, but you don’t have to call yourself a “SUP racer” to take part in a N1SCO event. In fact far from it. Even if you only stepped onto a SUP the day before, if you’re willing to get involved and get wet then you’ll be welcomed at any Naish NISCO event. Even the UK N1SCO European Championships which is the next event taking place in Swanage 10-11th June is open to all ability paddlers. It will be the same format as all other N1SCO events and a great opportunity to enjoy some fun racing, explore and paddle somewhere new, meet other paddlers from across the UK and Europe, and pick up afew top tips from those at the front of the fleet. 

There are passionate SUP racers, and then there are a whole new breed of what you call, ‘super passionate N1SCO racing addicts!’

If you don’t believe us, check out what some of these Naish N1SCO participants have to say about the events…

“I’ve done three events and have to say N1SCO racing is addictive fun! Not only does it take you to beautiful places whilst giving you an overwhelming sense of achievement. It also welcomes you to a fabulous community of athletes and enthusiasts or actually just kind people whose humour and spirit of adventure carries you along. It’s friendly, and as a novice to any sprint or endurance event I was made to feel welcome. Each event is professionally organised from racing a train to paddling 10km up to the majestic Welsh national stadium. At the N1SCO nationals there was a race for everyone’s abilities and tastes. Sprints with a pile up around a buoy turn, a technical course and of course the open water distance event. Then you get the wild card, a mass sprint which creates a spectacle and a few splashes for family and public spectators to enjoy. I just love it. I may not get podium places with prizes and medals but I do get the best belly laughs which to me are priceless. I’d say to anyone slightly tempted just do it, you won’t regret having a go but be warned once you’ve tasted the fun you’ll be hooked!” – Elaine Farquharsen

“I haven’t been racing long but the N1SCO series has rapidly become the highlight of my calendar. Five (or more!) chances to beat your racing nemesis can’t be bad….and this is exactly what N1SCO offers. If something hasn’t gone quite right in one race, or if something works really well, you don’t have to wait weeks to give it another go, you just take what you’ve learned into the next one straight after. If you didn’t learn anything and just had a blast, then great! I really enjoy the close proximity of the racing. The broad spread of paddling ability means there’s usually a number of others that will match you for speed. I find I’m constantly swapping places around the buoy turns with the same people, while apologising for somehow getting the board stuck between their legs! All of this is good natured and there’s usually plenty of words of encouragement from others, along with the odd ‘oops’ and ‘sorry’ as their board mounts yours! Racing aside, the venues are always in great spots and there’s usually plenty of other things to do in and around the area. The other N1SCO racers and organisers are a friendly bunch and will guarantee a warm welcome and a great days racing!” (Or two for Swanage) – Jon Hughes

“I had no idea what to make of the N1SCO circuit, but the event was local and more than reasonably priced so I thought that I would give it a go. The one design nature of the boards really appealed to me. You don’t have to be the fittest of paddlers, there is someone to paddle against at every end of the spectrum. I had no idea what to expect of the race format. Sprints, super lap…I’ve heard of them and watched the videos but what were they actually like to paddle in? There was a great sense of being part of an event. Everyone talked to everyone, were happy to share tips or cheer new found friends along. The one design format works in so many other sports, and it certainly seems that N1SCO is making it work in SUP. I’m hooked! I signed up for the Europeans the next day!! – Richard Thoroughgood

“I have raced hard boards for about 3 years and was invited to take part in the N1SCO series.  I thought going back to an inflatable would be difficult but quite the opposite!  The lack of the “latest/narrowest/fastest” board brings us all back to a pretty level playing field and it is SO much fun.  Sprints, technical and longer distance racing means you really do get the most out of your day and the confidence levels of even the most modest beginners, really soars.  A fantastic idea which is proving it’s success by it’s rapidly growing numbers.  I’m hooked!” –  Sarah Elizabeth Thornely

“N1SCO racing has literally everything! The field of racers around N1SCO are so friendly, every time I go to an event I get talking to new people.The racing is just the right balance between being challenging, and being achievable! A total beginner could happily paddle each event and finish the same race as a top paddler would find having to work really hard to win! Because everyone is on the same board, the racing becomes really competitive! Everyone has somebody they want to beat! It’s surprising how much you learn, between races paddlers are more than happy to help out some of the newer paddlers with things such as their stroke, how to get round a buoy, or how to draft the person in front of you!” – George Cornwell-Brown

“I initially got involved with N1SCO with the aim of helping out with the organisation due to the nature of my job.  However I was soon convinced by Alex from Naish that the racing was aimed at all abilities – so I signed up. On the day I was amazed how friendly and supportive everyone was and because the boards were the same no one was disadvantaged by kit. I will certainly be having another go very soon” – Jayne Lake

Naish N1sco

“Three years ago I met Alex from Naish UK and got involved in the N1SCO Racing. It’s been a fantastic way to compete, and I have made good friends. The whole idea of NISCO racing is great and there are so many advantages to using a N1SCO board. The fact that everyone is using the same board makes the racing very fair so you are all competitors and not just who has the big bank account that can afford the latest carbon race board! Then there is all the age group category’s, which means the old guys like myself don’t have to race the young guys. Instead we can have our own little battles, and every time we race on any given day, any of us could get a win. Living in Ireland and racing in the U.K. the N1SCO is the easiest way to travel with kit – just roll it up, put it into its bag and off you go. Airports are no problem with your N1SCO because you just check it on as a bag. It’s that easy – no more hoping the hard 12’6 race board comes out in one piece!” – Keith Gorman

“They’re definitely not getting easier! A really, really physically tough day, but they’re always great fun!” – Ben Fisher (2016 Naish N1SCO Champion)

Every year Naish UK give 10 paddlers the opportunity to experience the Naish UK Race Scene by being part of the N1SCO SUP fleet. By just committing to attend a min 6 race events the lucky selected paddlers are loaned a board for the season to use as they wish. A great way to experience SUP racing and have lots of water time without having to buy your own kit. Find out more about the 2017 UK Naish NISCO race team.

If you’re still unsure as to whether Naish NISCO racing is for you, check out the previous SUPboarder article ‘Why get involved in Naish NISCO racing?’

And for more information check out SUPboarders ‘Top 10 tips for NISCO racing’ and ‘How to train for a NISCO event’

Naish N1sco

Next N1SCO Events…

The next UK Naish NISCO events will be taking place on:
10th-11th June 2017 at Swanage (European Championships)
8th July 2017 at Bray Lake (Inland Championships)

For more information about the events including schedule, format, categories, pricing and location click here.

Please note : Online registration for the NISCO European Championships (suitable for all abilities) closes on 8th June. So if you’re keen to get involved in some fun SUP racing in Swanage in afew weeks time ENTER NOW.


Will Rogers from the SUPboarder team races in the 2017 Head of the Dart Challenge, UK with 200 other SUP racers. Will isn’t a regular SUP racer but decided to put the racing jersey on for the day and blog his experience. He gives a real life insight into the SUP racing experience. Just a shame that with all the excitement on the start line he forgot to press start on his camera!

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