SUP TWELVE 2023: Emily Evans and Bruce Smith smash the 12-hour endurance race

As of the past weekend, a new endurance stand-up paddle race format was successfully added to the UK SUP racing circuit. Brought by the Guinness World Record holder in SUP, adventurer, water safety crusader and Blackfish Paddles Team Rider, Brendon Prince, the SUP TWELVE event saw thirty seven paddlers taking on the challenge of a 12 hour paddle in Torbay.

TotalSUP caught up with Brendon Prince and the SUP TWELVE WinnersBlackfish Team Rider & TotalSUP Contributor Emily Evans and Bruce ‘Iron’ Smith – for a quick recap and event highlights.

“I was super excited that the concept of paddling a 3.5 km loop for 12 hours ignited the interest of so many paddlers for an event in its first year! The event attached some of the UK’s best paddlers and also those entering an event for the very first time,” said Brendon Prince, SUP TWELVE Director. 

Brendon Prince / Photo credit: The Long Paddle

“The event attached some of the UK’s best paddlers and also those entering an event for the very first time. The format is very simple, no categories, any board to complete as many laps of a 3.5km course in 12 hrs. Although, after completing each lap you must get off your board and walk through the competitors rest area so you have the option to take a rest every lap. This way, the paddlers on an endurance mission can be pushing 2 to almost 3 loops an hour.

Those that show equal endeavour but are not as fast may be completing one lap in a few hours. Once the event was underway, all the competitors had their own goals, strategies and tactics to fulfil their potential.

At the end of 12 hrs there were clear winners for 1st Bruce Smith (awesome 30 laps) & 2nd PJ Simmons (29 laps) but for the 3rd place there a was a battle to the end! If more than one paddler is on the same amount of laps when the 12 hr hooter sounds then it becomes a race to complete that lap.

This caused ultimate spectator excitement as Dom Hook and Fox Butler were both on 26 laps as the 12hr hooter went off, Fox was triumphant over the 3.5km race to come home 3rd. Blackfish Paddler Emily Evans completed the most laps for the ladies with 25 and was only seconds away from the 3rd place race with Fox and Dom!” 

SUP TWELVE Winners: Congratulations Bruce and Emily on your awesome achievement! How was it?!

Emily Evans:

“SUP TWELVE was every bit of the challenge as I expected! Brendon said before the event that every lap would be different and he was right. The challenging conditions meant that full focus was needed to complete each lap, each buoy turn was tough, as was paddling into strong winds all day long!

The most amazing thing was the supportive atmosphere through out the day from everyone on the beach and the other paddlers. On the water everyone was encouraging one another and paddling together where possible, back on the beach supporters had boundless energy all day to keep each paddler going!

It was such a great day, really chilled and well organised, I must thank Brendon and all other volunteers for putting on such a great event!” 

Bruce Smith:

“I loved how the event catered for everyone those racing for the podiums had the chance to push hard for the 12 hours yet at the same time it was amazing that everyone had the chance to push there own boundaries and compete with their own personal challenges.

I loved seeing and hearing all the paddlers encouraging each other out on the water while at times it was pretty wild and choppy. Then the cheers from the supports as we came through the athletes area was immense.

As for my performance I knew the race wouldn’t really start until after 6 hrs so just tried to paddle within myself, let the others get ahead and hope they slowed more than I would. It was hard doing that when sometimes the wind was making forward progress difficult but every lap the conditions were different so that really helped make it interesting. Me and Karen (Editorial note: Karen Greener, Bruce’s partner and an accomplished UK SUP athlete) agreed we would paddle the first lap together.

Then at the end I saw her on the beach and it was a no brainer to finish together. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done any long races and was by far the furthest I’ve ever paddle in one go but won’t be the last!”

Bruce Smith and Karen Greener / Photo: Courtesy of Bruce Smith

What does the future hold for SUP TWELVE?

“This all new format has created staggering interest from the paddling community and requests to reserve a place for next year are already coming in! SUP TWELVE will become an annual event for early season with the potential for an exciting SUPTwentyFour later in 2024. All profits from SUP TWELVE and future events will help the charity Above Water to continue their work in water safety education for children,” said Brendon Prince.

SUP TWELVE Results: Top 10 Men

SUP TWELVE Results: Top 10 Women

For full SUP TWELVE result list, click here 

To find out more about Blackfish Paddles and their progressive, refined, handcrafted designs, visit

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About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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