A TEENAGE British paddle-surfing champion will pit her skills against the world’s best in Nicaragua in May as she takes part in the International Surfing Association (ISA) world championship.
Holly Bassett, 15, from West Wittering, won the British women’s and junior titles in October last year, when she spectacularly beat reigning champion Maria Buchanan at Watergate Bay in Cornwall.
However, the talented teen is now ready to take her board to the world stage and despite her tender age, Bassett is looking forward to the challenge.
She said: “I’m really excited. It’ll be a really good experience for me and I think it’ll help me improve a lot.
“I’ve never been to anything like this before so it’ll be different, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
Even with her GSCE exams looming on her return, Holly insists she is ready for both those and the world.
“My school (Seaford College) have been really supportive and I’ve been prioritising for the exams.”
”I don’t know what to expect really, but I’m excited, I’ve been training hard and analysing a lot. I will give it my best shot.”
The ISA’s annual paddle-boarding event will take place in Granada, Nicaragua, from May 3 and includes both standing and prone events over eight days.
The event will attract national champions from around the world and Holly will compete alongside experienced paddle-boarder Maria Buchanan as part of the British team.
The two went head-to-head in Cornwall just five months ago during the women’s British stand-up paddle-surfing championship where reigning junior champion Bassett managed to beat firm-favourite Buchanan to the women’s title in an unpredicted victory.
Stand-up paddle-surfing has seen a big increase in its following since it gained recognition in late 2005.
The water-based sport is believed to have originated in the Pacific island of Hawaii, but gained much of its popularity in California.
In Britain, the sport has also seen a dramatic rise, with places such as Cornwall and, locally, West Wittering becoming important hubs for the sport.
Holly’s dad Simon Bassett is the owner of X-Train, a water-sports company based in the Witterings, and he has played an important role in the growth of the sport across the country.
He said: “In 2006 there were about ten people involved in the sport but in 2013 it was estimated there were around 15,000 people, so it’s grown a lot. We’ve taught about 40 instructors here at X-Train and recently we’ve set up a kids’ programme because we are very keen on young children getting into the sport.”
On Holly’s rise, he added: 的“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for her. I was delighted when she won the British championship, but this will be a very different league.”