Team GB Selection Process 2017

As of two weeks ago (Jan 28th) the European Surfing Federation announced that the European version of ‘Super tubes’ Peniche, Portugal will be the venue for the 2017 European SUP championships, officially known as EuroSUP 2017.

Dates set are June 6th – 11th with Europe’s top athletes vying for international honours in paddle surfing and race disciplines. Based upon initial communications it appears that the surf discipline will run almost continuously throughout, with the tech race scheduled for the 8th and distance on the 11th. It appears that Tiago, head event official, is very keen to provide racers with the same challenges that will confront surfers by holding both the tech and distance events on the main beach. Peniche is a world renowned beach break capable of breaking even the thickest of foam and fibreglass like twigs. It is an ideal venue for paddle sports, and one likely to produce some spectacular competition; that’s code for: crazy barrels, wipe outs and racing carnage!

Dates for the diary: 2017 Qualification Events

European SUP championships (race boards): April 22nd, Carbis Bay, St’Ives
World SUP championships (race boards): July 8th, Carbis Bay, St’Ives

Team England Selection

In a bid to select a team with the greatest degree of objectivity and parity many people have been liaising with key organisations involved; the European Surfing Federation, the newly re constituted English Surfing Federation and the British Stand Up Paddle Association to positively organise the strongest competitive team possible. While June seems an age away, the reality, couldn’t be further from the truth if paddle surfers and racers are to be given sufficient time to fully prepare, and to organise travel arrangements with work and family.

Given the evolving national landscape, in terms of organisations steering aspects of the sport plus, involvement of international federations, establishing a mechanism from which to select surfers and racers will always prove difficult at best. Incidentally, there is no current formal process to guide the process, moreover, we are still currently waiting for a definition of English eligibility from the English Surfing Federation. Consequently, selection criteria for paddle surfers will be based upon 2016 BSUPA competition results. Racers will be given the opportunity to represent England by attending a selection event on April 22nd which will include both technical and distance races, held on one day, based at Carbis Bay. The event will be a low key affair designed to allow all paddlers from the UK the opportunity to become part of the team for EuroSUP 2017.

Going Forward

While, ideally it would have been preferable to select both surfers and racers with equivalent process; however, those involved with informing the current selection policy are hamstrung by the rather late notification by the ESF that an event would even occur in 2017. As with previous national team internationals, hosted or ratified by the ISA, information is sparse at best and usually cutting the wire. While Denmark had confirmed two years in advance, info of when and where the Euro’s in 2017 will be hosted was released only recently leaving national organisations scrabbling to select teams.

Clearly, to best aid development of the sport and to provide a transparent process for surfers and racers, a ratified process is required. It appears that, unusually, both a European and World championships will be held in the same year, every year. While this has not been formally confirmed the precedent of the last 18 months suggests that this is likely to happen with the former occurring early summer and the later toward late summer. With this in mind, a clear strategy can be implemented for the future.
To confirm, in the interim, in order to qualify for the 2017 European SUP championships the surfing team will be based upon 2016 results while the racers will compete in a one off technical and distance race on April 22nd. Competitors wishing to attend the April selection race must notify Glenn Eldridge before April 8th via email glenn[at] race entry fees will be due on the day.

As for the Danish World championship event this September, SUP racers will be selected at the Celtic Cup, hosted by BSUPA on July 8th at Carbis Bay, St’Ives. Paddle surfers however, will have been selected based upon the 2016 BSUPA completion results. Details of the Worlds selection event will be released shortly to avoid any unnecessary cross messages with the English Euro team selection.

Who was Consulted?

In the absence of a formal structure or process, guidance of how to select a team with the greatest amount of objectivity and parity for both European and World events have been part of a collaborative process involving Simon Bassett of BSUPA, Nick Reese of the English Surfing Federation and Glenn Eldridge, National team manager of the 2016 World championships. All parties involved gave advice and time freely in order to help form best practice.