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Chris Rashley makes his mark on a new sport

by Liz Rushall 12 May 2019 17:00 BST
Olympic sailor Chris Rashley swaps the Nacra 17 for a SUP in the Battle of the Thames © Geoff Mather

Top level paddle board racing complements Olympic class sailing

It is becoming increasingly understood that more young people and the Millennial generation are choosing to get involved in a variety of active sports. This trend seems to be true for some of our competitive Olympic class sailors too.

As well as training for the Nacra 17 class for the British Sailing Team's bid for the Tokyo Games in 2020, Britain's four times Moth European Champion, Chris Rashley, has been quietly training for another sport over the winter. So, when he's not sailing he's out on his SUP (stand up paddleboard).

Chris has already hit the podium at the Battle of the Thames, part of the GB SUP 2019 series. Starting from Thames Sailing Club in Surbiton the event is held over a ten mile out and back course to Hampton Court Palace.

For Chris this was his first major flat water SUP race, where he finished third overall, ahead of some 200 competitors, after leading the race for over a lap. Chris then took another third place on the podium at the Cardiff 10k GB SUP series race one week later.

From his sailing kit bag, Chris was wearing his Zhik Z-Skin hybrid top, an ultra-thin 0.3mm stretch neoprene that sheds water. Teamed with Hydrophobic Fleece pants, a soft thermal, high stretch fleece with a water repellent outer. Chris comments, "I'm loving the SUP as I can do this when it's too light or too windy to sail the Nacra 17. The athleticism required to paddle, balance and steer a SUP at this level is not dissimilar from the intense activity levels needed for Nacra sailing.

"SUP racing really complements my love of water and develops my sailing skills too. On the board you really have to read the water, appreciate the chop and adjust your balance. It was cold and windy at the Battle of the Thames, so I needed gear to keep me warm, that was low windage, and did not restrict my movement. My Zhik gear was perfect choice for this flat water race."

So now, when it's too windy for Nacra sailing, the SUP circuit need to look out for top competition from the sailing fraternity!

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