GB Ocean Ski Series 2016 – It’s almost here…

With just two months left before the start of the first race of the GB Ocean Ski Series dates for five of the events are now up on the GB Oceanski calendar page, with one more to be confirmed.

The season again kicks off at Looe and, with Andy Parritt’s usual superb organisation, it will be another great event. The course takes in a circumnavigation of Looe Island (don’t cut it too close, the rocks are hard…and sharp) and a flatwater section into the Looe River with a surfing finish into beautiful Millendreath beach. Entries are now open for Looe, so get in early to make the most of the discounted price – after the 9th April the entry fee increases by 20%, and entries on the day are +40%. So make Andy’s and your own life easier and get on the start list now!

The other event details are being finalised and the entry pages will be available in the coming weeks. Branksome Chine SLSC will again be putting on the Surfski Show in May, alongside the Doubles Championship, allowing you to test paddle a whole range of shiny bits of carbon, or choose your first ski! Make sure to also check out the many other events that welcome skis around the country: Wales and Scotland are looking like they’re going to have another year of increasing participation and some great racing!

One of the safety changes for this year’s series is that a handheld smoke flare will now be compulsory. A couple of options can be found below:

Pains Wessex Orange Handsmoke

Pains Wessex Day & Night Distress Signal Flare

Something also worth looking at, both for racing and training, is the Safetrx phone app. This is the same as that being promoted by South Africa’s version of the RNLI. It is being made available for free in the UK by the RYA if you register on their website. The app has two modes, with the simplest tracking your position and sending data ashore at 1km intervals (or 5 minutes if stopped). If you need assistance then a one-touch button on your phone’s screen will send all the positional and indentification data direct to the rescue services. For more information see here.

Also this year, there will be a bit more for those at the back of the fleet to race for. We’ll be trialling a ‘Cruiser’ division (though we all know those at the back are trying just as hard as those at the front…any suggestions for names on a postcard), with an additional set of results and end-of-season prizes for those skis a little shorter and wider than the racing snakes.

Colwyn Bay 2015_03_2015-06-02

The division takes a maximum length/beam ratio of 11 as the cut off. It is a simplistic performance measure, but encompasses most of the entry level skis presently available. If necessary the criteria can be adjusted for the 2017 season. To make this possible the entry form now includes a drop-down to select the ski make and model – but don’t worry, you’re still free to change skis if you fancy paddling something faster on the day – just let the organisers know. If you think your ski design qualifies but has been missed out, then contact us through the website.

It’s also important to state that this is separate from the early/slow starts offered at some races – if you want to start in the slow fleet with a ‘fast’ boat then you’re still welcome to.

So that’s where we stand as the evenings start to brighten and a winter of slogging along flatwater in the dark can come to an end. Hopefully 2016 is going to be a bumper year for the series, with so many people getting into ski paddling in 2015. See you on the water!