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Prone – Loch Venachar, Scotland

August 2022

This was the first GBSUP race in Scotland, so Rho and I were really keen to do it.
It was just a wee paddle – 5km, and due to the wind, the course had been changed from a 5k loop to 4 laps of a 1.25k triangle. This meant that all the paddlers started with a head wind, followed by a tail wind, finishing with a good lumpy crosswind, before starting the next loop. This also meant that as the first section was into the wind, I was soaked through within the first 50m!
The race started well, with me trying to spot the lead paddlers ahead, but soon they were gone and I was on my own. The marshals at the turns were all wearing yellow vests, so I kept paddling, whilst scanning the horizon for a dash of yellow.
As I spotted the first one, I noticed a brightly coloured SUPer, (possibly orange), along side me, so I did my best to get ahead of him. As we reached the first turn, for some reason I had it in my head that it would be a 90 degree turn. As I did this and started to power off again, I noticed that Mr Tango had done a tighter turn and was heading back down the loch. Bugger, I now had to turn around and try and catch him. After that, the race was pretty much a blur, and I have no idea if I ever caught Mr T or not.
From here on in, I tried to focus on finding the next turning buoys. Sometimes I was successful, but on at least 2 occasions, I didn’t see the buoy until I was 20+ metres on the wrong side of it, so had to turn around, and paddle back out to it.
On another occasion, heading into the wind, I was convinced I’d missed my turn, and had to stop several times to try to see through the waves. I ended up shouting out, “is anyone there”? Then I heard a shout to my 10 o’clock, and I was back on course.
The race was great fun, and although I only came 8th overall, (but 1st in proning – I was the only proneboarder), I had a blast.
The race organisers then asked if anyone who had finished would like to go back out and accompany some of the paddlers, (who may have been finding it tough), on their last lap. What a fab idea!! I think the idea was to encourage the paddlers to keep going in these rough conditions, but there was no need for this from me. The lady I accompanied was on her first ever race, and although the water was lumpy and the wind was picking up, she had no plans of giving up. A true inspiration!
Thanks to Glasgow Paddleboarders Co and GBSUP for a great race, and to Martin Sloss for the pics.
P.S. Rhona was 11th overall, 2nd female, and 3rd in her division. Not bad for an old girl!! (Hope she doesn’t see this.)
P.P.S. Ignore the time and distance on the route pic, as this includes the 5th lap, warm up, etc.

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