Christchurch Red Paddle Co rider James Bradshaw paddled his stock Red Air 10’6 to the finals of the non-pro fleet at the NZ SUP Nationals in spectacular style, gaining one of the loudest cheers of the day as he crossed the finish line in 3rd place…
Even more impressive is that James had never raced before! His early heats were a crash-course (literally) in starting technique and mark-rounding tactics, which then stood him in good stead as the competition hotted up through the rounds, resulting in him winning his semi-final outright (spurred on considerably by some slightly condescending comments from other racers regarding his choice of ride, who then had to eat their words as it left them in its wake!)
Held at Takapuna Beach in Auckland on Sunday in blustery onshore conditions, the event took a welcome step away from the more elitist and equipment-dependent long distance racing formats, with a much more spectator-friendly and exciting short-course slalom-style format. Heats of 10 paddlers battled their way in and out through the surf round an ‘ins and outs’ M course, to finish with a sprint up the beach – the top 5 progressing to the next round.
The result was a well-attended and hard-fought event, with crashes a-plenty and lots of drama. James’ great result clearly showed how much performance the Red Air boards have to offer. Many spectators refused to believe his board was an inflatable – until it was deflated! On the water it looked just as rigid and fast as the $3000+ carbon race boards he was beating, and in a league of its own in its fast cornering ability.
Yet James reckoned he could have done even better had he been on the Red 10, which is his normal ride. Watch this space!
Well done James from all at NZ Paddle Company – an awesome result.