After beating Boothy and the boys in Bordeaux, Blue Ewer eyes “Championship Season”
There’s something about cheering for someone who wasn’t expected to win that day. The dark horse. The underdog. The surprise packet. Perhaps it’s as simple as upset victories often being what keeps a sport exciting, or maybe the mentality that comes with being an outsider is emotionally appealing to an audience.
Whatever it is, there’s something about Blue Ewer.
The boy from Britain with the colourful name, classy manners and a sense of humour drier than a James Bond martini, Blue has been on a break-out bull run this season. And he’s now got his eyes on “Championship Season” in the back half of the year where he’ll battle against all the big guns.
The lad’s fine run of form began with a fourth-place finish at the Euro Tour in Afrika and included a podium in the Canaries before a memorable victory at the Bord’Ocean Days event in France last month. Indeed, Blue’s bold win over Boothy and the boys in Bordeaux was a big one.
Up against two of the all-time best in Michael Booth and Connor Baxter along with several of Europe’s finest, Blue pulled off surely the most exciting win of the season. Perhaps the most exciting win for many a season. After leading the chase group up and down Bordeaux’s wide, open and highly unpredictable river, the Brit rolled the dice on the final lap by crossing over to the far bank. In a true David & Goliath moment, Blue found faster water which allowed him to motor past Boothy and claim the sort of surprise, strategic victory that keeps veteran beat writers excited about this very sport.
And it’s not like he didn’t earn it. It’s not like these results have come out of the… blue. The hard-training NSP athlete – he’s on the water six times a week at home on the picturesque southwest coast of England – came into this season already holding half a dozen national titles. He added a few more on the weekend by sweeping the GB National Series event in Falmouth to cement qualification for the Worlds and reinforce his reputation as Britain’s number one paddler.
Arguably Team GB’s finest talent since fellow Devonian Marie Buchanan flew the flag at many a world championship last decade, Blue (it’s pronounced yoo-uh) will compete for country at three events in as many months – aka “Championship Season” – starting with the ISA Worlds in France mid-September and continuing on to the EuroSUP Championships in Portugal before the Thai-flavoured cherry on top, the ICF Worlds in Pattaya mid-November.
Considering the well-known issues with the ever-fledgling APP World Tour, the Euro Tour has become the de facto international tour as virtually all of the world’s best take part in the European Summer of SUP. Quite noteworthy, then, that Blue sits fourth on the near-final Euro Tour leaderboard ahead of the biggest three months of the year.
In his first campaign on the elite Team NSP, Blue has been battling the new wave of European talent for the podiums. And that’s a narrative I look forward to watching carry over into Championship Season. Shoulder-to-shoulder with Blue so far this summer have been the Flying Dutchman Donato Freens (currently third in Europe after his own breakout season), young Spanish hero Aaron Sanchez (seventh) and fellow NSP rookie Christian ‘Polar Bear’ Andersen from Denmark (fifth). It’s the proverbial new wave.
But it’s not just Team GB for which Blue will be flying the flag — there’s also the small matter of team pride on the line as marquee brands Starboard and NSP do battle for bragging rights.
With former king Travis Grant all but retired and spiritual leader Titou yet to race this year due to work commitments, it’s been Team NSP’s new generation that have taken on the challenge in season 2023. Led by Spanish sensation Duna Gordillo – comfortably the second-best woman in the world and seemingly the only rival to Queen Espe’s crown – NSP’s entourage has been reinforced by the likes of Blue, Polar Bear, U.S. prospect Bodie von Allmen, Portuguese dark horse Tomás Lacerda and promising Frenchwoman Iona Rivet.
Throw in Australia’s wildcard Ty Judson and Japan’s prodigious free agent Shuri “Shrimpy” Araki – who chooses an NSP for the distance races – and the turquoise team from Thailand will be looking for a triumphant homecoming at the ICF Worlds in November.
Blue will be an outside chance of a medal in Pattaya – the big guns from France, Spain, Japan, the USA and Australia pose a formidable wall – but as he showed in Bordeaux, the blue-eyed boy from Devon (I’ll just assume he has blue eyes for now) has the racing smarts to match his work ethic. And as the saying goes, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Blue will certainly be keeping the boys on their toes in Pattaya. The fans and media, too.
Follow Blue’s journey on Instagram as he prepares for the Worlds