Battle of the Thames 2016 – Race Report

18/05/2016

By Stuart Howells, our new contributor in the UK – in partnership with Curve Board SportsRRD UK and ION.stuart-howells

Ollie Shilston (Starboard) dominates the ‘Battle of the Thames’ to claim victory in the 14ft class whilst unknown newcomer Alex Mullaney emerges victorious in the 12’6” class as the first UK SUP event of 2016 got underway in the UK. In the female division Team GB athlete Marie Buchanan (Starboard) looked odds on favourite to take the 12’6” class win but for a lapse in concentration missed the turning for lap two which gave Ginnie Odetayo the victory alongside Christine Anderson who won the 14ft class

In its sixth year the ‘BOTT’ organised by the guys at Blue Chip SUP (www.windsurfer.co.uk) has become one of biggest events on the UK scene, the Aussie legend and Big Wave paddler Jamie Mitchell has even done this event winning a few years back in 2013.

battle of the thames 2016 report

This year it was Team GB paddler Ollie Shilston, from Carbis Bay in Cornwall, who really found fifth gear in the 14ft class.  In a pretty stacked line-up of British heavyweights including Pete Holliday, Ryan James (Mistral) and Andy Joyce (Fanatic) amongst others, everybody wanted to start the season with a bang and put a marker down for the season.  Nobody did that better than Ollie, who lead by example and catapulted off the start line and never looked back to take the win and cross the finish line with a time of 1h40mins43secs.  “There was a bit of chop as we went up river and I managed to get a little break, kept my head down and worked hard to make the gap bigger and managed to hang on to it”  Ollie who stepped up from his usual 12’6” class in preparation for the 14ft Euro Tour ‘Lost Mills’ Event in a few weeks’ time.

battle of the thames sup race 2016

The rest of the field were left to fight for second place and it came down to an error by Ryan James (Mistral) who missed the turning for the start of lap two which left the door open for Pete Holliday to take second on the podium.  Sonny Zoltan Erdelyi finished in third as Ryan couldn’t make up for his mistake and finished seventh.
Ollie Shilston Pete Holliday Sonny Zoltan Erdelyi

In the 12’6” class all eyes were on teenage sensation Peter Kosinski (Starboard) who had just stepped off a plane 12 hours before the race, after competing in the OluKai Ho’olaule’a on Maui. The Irish teenager had his paddle snapped on the flight from Hawaii and was on borrowed kit but stormed out of the blocks to take an early lead. Pete set the pace high and it was Glen Eldridge and Alex Mullaney who worked together to claw back the gap over the second half of lap one and turn it into a three horse race for first place. Cunningness and tactics then came into play as the top three jostled over the second half of the grueling 10 mile course and like a delicate game of chess the three made move and counter-move. Over the last mile it was Alex who out smarted the other two to finish with a time of 1hour50mins10seconds in first with Pete clinching second 9 seconds ahead of Glen in third.  “Im really pleased I haven’t been paddling very long. I started with St Ives Bay Sup club last summer training with Glen (Eldridge) and got the bug from there. I think I need to work on my starts Pete’s so quick…I was just hanging on at the end.”
Marie Buchanan in the women’s division shared the same fate as Ryan James, missing the mark at the start of Lap 2 giving away her considerable lead to Ginnie Odetayo “Unfortunately I was too much in the zone and missed the mark for the last turn. I went a good distance past the mark and had some clawing back to do.  I managed to catch Tarryn but couldn’t catch Ginnie”
Ginnie Odetayo Marie Buchanan Tarryn King

Ginnie was able to remain strong and focused as she went tore through the miles and went under the inflatable arch that towers across the finish line in first place.
In 27c degree sunshine and stunning conditions (for the spectators…conditions were more familiar to a typical British holiday destination in Europe than our usual cold, wet training conditions) Kingston Sailing Club provided a beautiful location on the banks of the river Thames in South West London for over 140 paddlers to compete both competitively and recreationally. With the second race of the UK Sup season just a few weeks away this energy sapping hot, sticky, sweaty ‘BOTT’ was a great leveler and certainly has made a great start to the UK Season.
Check out the post-race interviews with winners Ollie Shilston & Alex Mullaney and make sure to stay tuned to Total Sup for all things racing in the UK
And if you’re interested as for my race I entered the 12’6” class and was up in the mix for the top 5 for all of 30 meters……before falling in!  Having to dig deep and try and regain my focus I eventually crossed the line in 11th place. With a lot learnt ahead of the next one I will be practicing my race starts and let’s see where that gets me…… Big thanks to RRD UK, Curve Board Sports  & ION for their great support!
Photo credit: Dave White Photography

More photos at: http://www.davewhite.photography/History/2016/2016-Battle-of-the-Thames/

Full results: http://www.windsurfer.co.uk/SUP_BattleOfTheThames2016_Results.htm

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