“We are pleased to announce that Emily Evanshas signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with Team Blackfish. Emily hails from Wales and has been using our paddles for a couple of years now. She is a hardworking and gifted endurance athlete who comes to SUP from the triathlon and white water paddling worlds. This is a very unique background and one that gives her a unique skill set and a solid understanding of endurance sport training, commented David Smart, Founder of Blackfish Paddles, a high-performance SUP paddle brand based in British Columbia, Canada. “Emily will be one to watch in the coming years as she moves into the European race scene and also looks at longer endurance type races. We are super excited that Emily has joined us alongside the other amazing female paddlers that we support!”
Involved in paddlesports on a competitive level since a young age, being on the water is where Emily Evans, White-water raft guide and Rafting Champion turned pro SUP racer, feels most at home. She is one of the most accomplished paddlers in the UK, who has recently launched her own race specific coaching programme “to give something back to the SUP community”.
TotalSUP caught up with Emily soon after her long distance win at the first stop of the GBSUP National Series in Cardiff to discuss the exciting Blackfish announcement.
Hi Emily, welcome to TotalSUP and congratulations on joining the Blackfish Team! How did you find the news?
Thank you very much! I am so excited to have joined the team, I feel very lucky to be considered to join some very accomplished watermen and women. I hope I can do my part to inspire other paddlers! I am really looking forward to representing Blackfish and attending events this year, hopefully some of them will be international too, it would be cool to get to meet the other Blackfish athletes.
How did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?
I started taking part in watersports when I was about ten, I was super lucky and tried sailing, windsurfing, kayak and canoe, the paddlesports were my favourite. I progressed into white water kayaking and took some really cool river trips with my local outdoor centre. These trips gave me a love for adventuring and experiencing new places.
I started white water rafting in 2011, I became a white water raft guide and also had my first taste of international raft racing that year at the European championships in the Czech Republic. Since then I have competed in quite a few international white water rafting events, my proudest achievements have been as part of the British team when we won the world championships in 2016 and the European championships in 2018. I love to reflect on those time for the race preparation and team work that I learned and how I can bring that to SUP racing!
As for the sport of stand-up paddleboarding itself, I was using it as cross training for white water rafting when my team mates weren’t around, however I actually really fell in love with it and really loved that I could work hard, get fitter and I already loved paddle sports so it was a win-win! Later in the first year of starting to SUP I took part in my first race and loved it. It was a really hard race, super windy but I completed it and I was keen to do more! That event was where I met my good paddle buddies I have now in South Wales.
After that race I started to learn more about paddling on the sea, surfing and exploring my local water ways, finding areas that were safe to train in. Now we have a great group of people who paddle regularly as part of race training on the flat and on the sea, I love that growing sense of community.
What is your most epic SUP experience to date?
I think it would actually have to be the latest GBSUP Cardiff race, there was a long draft train with four of us girls the entire race, pushing each other on. That was my most exciting individual sport race in my life. Sometimes these moments just happen when everything falls into line and racing becomes epic. We didn’t all plan to paddle like that, some of it was more of a battle than working together but that was all part of the fun. Of course we are all friends on the finish line and we were all so happy to have had such a close race like that, it was a great experience for everyone, hopefully something we can achieve again and take to international racing this year.
What’s your Blackfish set up? What are your Blackfish Paddles of choice?
At the moment I am using the Blackfish Viento paddle for racing and training, I think it’s the most lovely feeling through the water, it’s like an extension of my arm and I don’t even notice it’s there.
The paddle is light and it fits me perfectly. I also think the shape of all the Blackfish paddle handles are super comfy and make a great paddling experience.
There is a really great SUP scene in Cardiff and the surrounding areas. There are a few organised social paddle groups based out of Cardiff and there are a couple of clubs too; Island SUP in Barry is great for beginners, kids and progression. There are a few of us who race train together, so more fitness and technique based, we get together once a week at Cardiff International White Water Centre and often meet up at other times too to get on the sea when the conditions are good. Our weekly training meet up is an open peer-led session so anyone is welcome to join us if they want to work hard and get fitter; we can be found by searching Cardiff Bay racers!
I have a couple of coaching sessions coming up on the weekends that are based around race skills, which is everything from paddle and board skills to tactical elements like preparation and focus tips. Dates can be found on my social media and website at suptec.co.uk!
There are quite a few people who SUP surf very well in the area too and it’s a delight to be on the water together and see everyone having fun!
Could you share your 3 top tips for aspiring SUP racers?
One… Find kit that suits you, fits you well and is the right size. So everything from your board and paddle to your clothing, be comfortable and make sure that you avoid injury by having the correct kit.
Two… It’s wise to do some kind of preparation ahead of your race. Make sure that you can cover the distance, or the time on the water. If you are looking to improve your times then you may want to start to think in more detail about paddling for fitness and making sure you have a good nutrition routine pre-race.
Three… Look after your paddling body. SUP is such a great full body sport, there is hardly a muscle that is left unused. So take some time, whatever your level of paddling, to stretch and strengthen it.
I’m going to attend a few more of the GBSUP races this year and then hopefully get away to the European and World SUP Championships in Denmark and Puerto Rico.
Non-race wise, I’m super excited to have some coaching booked in with Water Skills Academy on their Ladies Tour this year, and I also have some coaching sessions of my own coming up in South Wales. I think that should be enough to keep me busy!
Thank you for your time Emily and once again congratulations on joining the Blackfish Team! Good luck with the 2022 SUP season!
To find out more about Blackfish Paddles and their progressive, refined, handcrafted designs, visit blackfishpaddles.com
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