Battle of the Thames 2016 – Preview
The SUP scene in the UK has been steadily growing over the past few years and the 2016 Season is looking to be the best yet. This year, the Battle Of The Thames (BOTT) will mark the start of the UK National Series. We asked Stuart Howells, TotalSUP new contributor in the UK, to give us a comprehensive preview of what should be the biggest SUP Race in the UK.
Video of the Battle of the Thames 2015
The 2016 UK Racing scene kicks off with arguably the biggest race on the UK Sup calendar this weekend on one of the most famous rivers in the world, the River Thames.
Running through the heart of London over 150 paddlers will take to the water in what will be the sixth year of the aptly named ‘Battle of the Thames’ (BOTT).
With seven different disciplines and a ‘Mega Board’ Fun race the 2016 ‘BOTT’ will be the biggest UK SUP race to date. Event organisers, Blue Chip (www.windsurfer.co.uk) have been involved since the beginning of the ‘UK SUP Scene’ and assisting UK SUP (race organisers for the UK National Series) in trying to solidify a solid platform for UK Stand Up Paddlers to race and be recognised.
The Battle of the Thames is the first of the 8 Race National Series in the United Kingdom (www.uksup.co.uk) and for the elite paddlers the course is set at a challenging 10 miles for both 14’ and 12’6” class. With 36% of paddlers attending the ‘BOTT’ for the first time there is something for everybody and every ability. There is the short course mega board fun race, a 2 mile beginner race, a 6 mile inflatable race and the 10 mile elite course.
With the weather in London set to be an unexpectedly hot 23 degrees and 8mph winds, the lap course will be more mentally challenging than display of pure technical paddling. The river this far up has little flow and will generally be flat with paddlers more likely to be effected by the busy Thames traffic than any natural flow.
Last years’ and three-time 14ft ‘Battle of the Thames’ winner, Ryan James on Mistral is favourite to take the 2016 title again this year. Based on the south coast, Ryan is one of the fastest flat-water paddlers in the UK. Loving the longer distance racing, finishing second in the 11 Cities SUP Race in 2012, he is setting his sights on back to back UK SUP Championship Titles after winning the 9 race series last year.
Hot on his heels will be Ben Payne (Starboard) The young paddler from just outside London, will be looking to improve on his impressive performances last year in the UK Sup Championship. Ben took out the Central Sup event during last years season and followed that up with second place finishes.
Pete Holliday will certainly be one to watch this year. Having flirted with both 14ft and 12’6” racing classes Pete has decided this year to focus on the longer board class. Beating his long time friend and training partner Ryan in the Head of the Dart Race a few weeks ago this little match up will certainly provide some entertainment on the water through-out the season.
With 2015 Champion and Team GB’s Andy Joyce (Fanatic) deciding to move to the longer board class it has left the door wide open for a new champion in the 12’6” class. One highly anticipated youngster who competed on the 2015 Stand Up World Series is Irish youngster Peter Kosinski (Starboard). The 20 year old who has just returned from finishing the 2016 OluKai Ho’olaule’a in Hawaii will be full of confidence ahead of this season’s racing.
In the Women’s division 2015 14ft Champion paddler Christine Anderson (Starboard) will be looking to win back-to-back titles and with Joanne Hamilton-Vale over in California for the Stand Up for the Cure charity event, Emily King will be going toe to toe with Kerry Baker to take the win at the Battle of the Thames (BOTT).
So the first UK Sup Race of the year gets underway in London this Saturday, 7th May. With a beautiful day forecast battle is set to commence from 10.45am (UK Time). Be sure to keep across Total Sup for all results and re-action and find out who will be crowned ‘Battle of The Thames’ Champion