Title puts Holly on the crest of a wave

Holly Bassett has paddle-surfed to GB success
Holly Bassett has paddle-surfed to GB success

Holly Bassett is surfing her way to international success having won a ladies’ national title at the age of 15.

Bassett, who lives in West Wittering and goes to Seaford College near Petworth, has qualified for the International Surfing Association world championships in Nicaragua after taking the British women’s paddlesurfing title.

Paddlesurfing, which originates from Hawaii, is a form of surfing which allows competitors to paddle longer distances than in conventional surfing. Bassett has been involved in the sport since 2009 although she started windsurfing aged just 2½ before she could even swim. Such is her dedication that she trains all year round – whatever the weather. Last winter, she could be found in the water at just 3C. “It was pretty cold!” she said.

The Year 10 student has been placed well in previous competitions in the junior section of the British Stand Up Paddlesurf Association’s national championships but has never before made it through into the final heats of the ladies.

The SUP event draws competitors from all over the UK with divisions for men, ladies and juniors.

They have to compete in surf and are judged by a panel of trained ISA judges for wave riding style, wave selection and radical moves.

Bassett was determined to win a place in the top three in the women’s division at Watergate Bay, Cornwall, this year – but never expected to win it.

She said: “The heats each last 20 minutes, so it is crucial to make the most of the waves which come through in the style of riding the judges are looking for. The conditions were very hard and it was almost pot luck whether I got on the right wave and where it took me. I was really shocked when I got first because I was thinking third, maybe pushing second. To win was a big surprise.”

Her proud father Simon Bassett said: “At the prizegiving we were surprised as the names were read out. Not only had Holly won the under-16 girls event but she had won the women’s title and was awarded the Watergate Bay Water Women award for 2013. It was very emotional to realise we now have a British champion in the family!”

Bassett’s ten-year old sister Daisy, in her second year at Seaford College Prep School, also surfs and windsurfs.

Stand-up paddlesurfing (SUP) is regarded as one of the UK’s fastest-growing watersports and there is a strong SUP scene in West Wittering.

As well as being a prizewinning paddlesurfer, Holly is a good swimmer and windsurfer. She also plays acoustic guitar and sings and has played in a Is the new British champion looking forward to taking on the rest of the world? “I’ll be really nervous but I think it’ll be a really good experience to go,” she said.