Cardiff Paddlefest 2019

Charlie Jones smashing the start with Ben Pye, Ryan James, PJ Simmons in hot pursuit at Cardiff Paddlefest in 2018
Marie Buchanan is first to wheelie round the Red Bull Buoy with Ginnie Odetayo and local star Kerry Baker on her heels
N1SCO showdown at the first buoy turn as Steve Rutt, Deke Moran and Glynn Smith play bumper cars
One of the stars of Cardiff 2018 and the clear winner of the 14' class Ryan James
Crispin Richard Jones and Carl Thomas battle it out in the 14’ category during the 2018 GBSUP Cardiff race.
Dan Lovett nears the finish line after taking part in the 2018 GBSUP Cardiff race where he was competing in the 14’ category as a senior.
Local Emily Evans heads for a podium place as third woman in the 14’ category at the 2018 GBSUP Cardiff race.

Time to gear up for a family weekend as the GBSUP Series heads for Cardiff

Following hot on the heels of the Battle of the Thames is this year’s fourth GBSUP fixture, which takes place over the early Spring bank holiday weekend as part of Cardiff International White Water’s Paddlefest.

The family-friendly festival takes place on Sunday 5 May, with GBSUP’s programme taking centre stage.

This is GBSUP’s second year in Cardiff, and director Mark Price said the team were looking forward to heading back. ‘It’s a fantastic venue with lots to do and superb facilities and the feedback we got after last year’s event was brilliant.

‘On race day, we’re once again offering a choice of distances — 10k for those wanting to compete in our 2019 series and our 6k Tour challenge for paddlers who just want to take part and enjoy the day.

‘We were incredibly lucky with the weather in 2018 and all fingers are crossed for a repeat this time!’

Nearly half the 50+ paddlers already signed up for Cardiff are women, among them Ginnie Odetayo and Emily Evans who placed second and third in last year’s 14’ race.

Mark added. ‘This is awesome and a clear indication that this race series — and SUP more widely — is becoming an increasingly inclusive sport that’s not just open to all, but perceived as open to all.’

Also confirmed as returning to defend their podium positions are Emily King, third in the 2018 women’s 12’6” race, and Simon Day who took second place in last year’s One Design contest.

The main 10k route takes paddlers from the start at Cardiff International White Water centre out into Cardiff Bay, up the river Taff as far as the Millennium Stadium, and then back again. The turn point for the 6k is at Cardiff Bay Water Activity Centre.

Board categories are as for the rest of the series — hardboard and inflatable 14’0” and 12’6”, and One Design. Paddlers with other board types can participate in some events but won’t be eligible for GBSUP race or series podium places.

There are prizes for the first three men and women (stand-up and prone) overall in any race, and the first three in four age divisions — Seniors (18-39), Masters (40-49), Veterans (50-59), and Grand Kahuna (60+). If there are fewer than three paddlers in any age category, podium places will still be awarded to those who took part.

For younger paddlers aged between 12 and 18 there is the chance to take part in short technical, sprint and distance junior races in the morning before the main events.

Mark said: ‘We’re encouraging everyone to make a weekend of it, taking advantage of both the amazing facilities on offer at CIWW and maybe also exploring ocean paddling on the coast.’

All the leading SUP and kayak manufacturers will be at CIWW over the weekend with 2019 demo kit to test, and instructors will be on hand for anyone yet to try SUP or other paddle sports.

CIWW manager Ben Longhurst said: ‘The annual CIWW Paddlefest is a great family weekend for the first-time paddler to the expert.

‘On Saturday we’re open as normal, offering white water rafting, with freestyle kayaking in the evening, and on Sunday we’ll have Britain’s best slalom athletes competing all day during Paddlefest.

‘For entertainment, we have the Blims, a Welsh folk rock surf band who will play three sets during Paddlefest on the Sunday.’

Among other CIWW taster sessions on offer all weekend will be indoor surf, air trail, children’s white water rafting, and full rafting for adults. Tasters cost from £10 per person and six is the minimum age for taking part. More information on the CIWW website.

On Bank Holiday Monday — 6 May —  Barry-based Island SUP are offering an ‘Ins and Outs’ session at a location near Porthcawl, exploring safely launching SUPs out through breaking waves, negotiating swell bumps, buoy turns, and catching waves back to the beach.

This is not a coached lesson, individuals are responsible for their own safety, and numbers are limited. There is more information on the event Facebook page where anyone wanting to join the session can also message the organisers.

Written by Eugenie Verney

Photos by SUPJunkie (Sarah Thornely) and Sarah Longhurst