In late August I was asked by the England surf kayaking Manager if I could compete for the England team at the World Surf Kayaking Championships and on the 20th October 2017 the opening ceremony kicked off in Portrush, N Ireland. Everyone was made to feel very welcome and all the teams paraded through the streets in their team colours and waving their flags.

The first day of the championships was hampered by Storm Ophelia but the competition went on in some scary 8 – 15ft heavy waves, it was safe to say the RNLI earned their money that day!

The next day was the first round of the team event, the conditions on the water were a lot smaller which meant every paddler had to work harder to get the best performance out of their Surf Boats. If you were not on the water competing you were on the beach supporting, cheering and waving your flags. At the end of each heat there was a live feed to our phones keeping us updated on the scores. By the end of the day the Basque Country had secured a first place position, England was second and Wales was only three points behind us in third.

The next few days saw the competitors compete as individuals in a mixture of testing conditions from 2 – 6ft waves. The last day of the competition was Team Finals Day and the whole event moved from East Strand Beach to West Strand Beach, about a mile away, this was due to the small waves at the previous venue. West Strand offered some larger waves 4 – 6ft but they were very choppy. Everyone had to put 100% in and by the last heat we were nervously waiting for the results. Results: 1st Basque Country, 2nd England and 3rd Wales.

Next season I hope to compete in the English ranking surf kayaking events to secure my position on the England squad for Home Nations 2018 and the next World Surf Kayaking Championships 2019 in Peru!

This was an amazing experience and I got the chance to meet people from the sport I love from all over the world. It was all made possible with the help I received from Team Army, The Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadets Associations and 104 Regiment RA. Thank you.

Sgt Robert Maddock
104 Regt RA