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Head of the Dart 2019

14th April 2019

Four of us managed to get signed up in the rush for places. It seemed a long time ago. The four were Andrew Stotesbury, Brett Scillitoe, Devon Cumberland and Martin Colyer. Devon and Andrew were camping and Martin and Brett, went for the soft option. All separate, we really must be better organised next year 😊

Devon, Martin, Andrew, Brett

The course this year was cut and was tuned into a return trip as opposed to a one way trip, due to the strong southeasterly wind.

The day dawned cloudy and breezy, the weather forecasters for once, weren’t wrong. We all started to arrive from our various nighttime locations. The lanes of South Devon must have been filled with cars and boards heading for Totnes. Those of us who hadn’t registered the day before, dealt with that task. Then all we needed to do was pump up and wait for the safety briefing and then the start.

Waiting for the start

Whilst waiting, we chatted to lots of the other paddlers, whether they were racing or like 3 of us in the Leisure group. Marin pointed out a number of the key people who would be worth watching, whist we just looked at the array of different equipment on show.

Martin and Devon

The Leisure group was going off first with a half hour gap to the racers. Andrew, Devon and I got kitted up and headed for the water. There was a steady breeze, but I for one didn’t think it was too bad, even in my very Silly Hat.

Andrew Stotesbury

Then we were off, I had in my mind that I would paddle with Devon and Andrew. However, within minutes of the start, I think we all realised we were in for a battle with the wind. Devon shot off and was doing brilliantly. Great technique, fitness and he right equipment, 13’2 Red, plus sensible paddle for the conditions. I was on a steep learning curve. I was in Drysuit (baggy), Very Silly Hat and a fat bladed paddle. As for Andrew, I lost sight of him, as I was head down battling with the conditions. This wasn’t a Leisure Paddle, this was a Fight! It was all I could do to find whatever shelter from the wind that I could.

Devon Cumberland

Eventually, the fastest of the Leisure group appeared and there was Devon, He was running 3rd and looking good. This meant the turn round the buoy couldn’t be far. Sure enough it came into view. What a relief.

Ready to launch

Once, I turned, I made full use of my baggy drysuit and hat. I was intent on catching and passing as many as I could. In the end I managed to pass 4 other paddlers in the end. It was great to see the Pros come through the fleet. Their speed and power was something to see. Punching into the wind. It was a spur to try and keep ahead of them as long as possible.

Eventually, the final straight came into view, with a perfect following wind, negating the ebb tide. At times I was surfing. Great fun. I was court by 4 of the men and 2 of the lady Pros. Again, great to be right in the action as they passed me. It was like being at The Derby with the thoroughbred’s whilst riding a mountain pony. Remember, they started 30 mins after I did. Very impressive.

Andrew and Devon at the start

Where the others were, I had know idea. Eventually, I found Devon, who had finished 4th. A fantastic result considering he ran aground. Andrew came in after me and then Martin who started later as he was racing. But he wasn’t that far behind!!

As with these events the results take there time to be published. Andrew and Devon, had to head home. Martin and his wife Sam, were with her parents and had other commitments. I wanted to talk to some other other SUP clubs and went to the prize giving. I’m really glad I did.

Martin Colyer and his Medal

Martin Colyer, Came Second in his class and got a medal. BRILLIANT. DPB’s first ever placement in a National Event. Well done Martin!

I collected the medal and that ment I had to meet Martin and buy him a celebratory beer 🍺 😁 👍

So ended a great day and a challenging, but successful event. As for the results, this is the link to the Leisure Fleet times and places. Devon 4th, Brett 27th and Andrew 47th out of 82 finishers.

If you are interested in joining in the fun and becoming a member, please click the link.

Photo credits, Sam Colyer, Andrew Stotesbury, Brett Scillitoe, HotD Facebook

© Dittons Paddle Boarding 2019