Blog #24 – keep the faith

Naturally, after the sort of weather we’ve had all summer, the late August bank holiday was bound to deliver something altogether more British! But everyone saw it coming and a bit of wind and rain certainly didn’t spoil our week – in fact, it might have added an extra frisson to SUPstock at Fambridge on Sunday and Monday. Before that though, last week somehow delivered an even bigger inland SUP Club than ever before at Papermill Lock on Wednesday, then a blustery but beneficial Race Club from Two Tree Island on Friday evening, followed by another fully booked day of paddleboard lessons at Papermill Lock on Saturday. Now we’re through that ‘rough patch’, rumour has it the weather’s set to improve again this coming week…

Having logged our biggest ever inland SUP Clubs for two weeks in a row (first 37 paddlers at Papermill Lock for SUP Club – Paperchase, then 38 at Mill House for SUP Club – Through the Mill) we were amazed to go a couple better still at Paper Mill last week where 40 gathered on another fine Wednesday evening. It has to be said, things started a little eventfully as Sid & Nancy swans seem to have gone properly rogue and staged an invasion of Papermill to drive away the resident swan family. After somewhat of an intervention to defend their cygnets, we opted to change our planned route in favour of heading west two locks to Stonham’s and back for a quick 6.5k loop. With the nights drawing in now, we were safely off the water by 8.30pm in time for another marvellous meal at the Six Bells Boreham. Tomorrow’s SUP Club is looking likely to be the return of a favourite: albeit a fair bit earlier than usual. We’re hoping to hit Chalkwell for the ever-popular 7k downwinder to Thorpe Bay, which will need to be a 5.20pm launch. As always, look out for the full call by Wednesday lunchtime here via SUP Club #23 and @SUPsect on Facebook…

Then Friday night was Race Club and last week we had a low tide and more westerly wind to contend with. So it was back down the dogleg from Two Tree for us. Stroke sequencing involved a recap of our drills, from catch, via ‘disco-hips’ engagement, suspension and unload, to the previous week’s ‘tip-toes’. Then, with a different group from the week before and following the success of that one, we returned our focus to close-quarters paddling; we kicked off with our new formation overtaking routines, then looked at drafting again, building it up to a nine-strong train before we headed for home as the rains returned. Afterwards we changed scene for dinner at the Crooked Billet in Old Leigh. Race Club continues this Friday – keep an eye on our Facebook Forum and @SUPsect page for updates. Current forecasts of light south-easterly wind and a 4.21pm 5.6m high tide are probably pointing back towards Tewkes Creek from Two Tree.

Saturday saw another full day of lessons at SUP school, introducing a dozen new people to paddleboarding on our two BSUPA Ready to Ride courses at Paper Mill Lock: this week we had an aunt and her niece, a young couple plus two other guys on our morning course, followed by a full-on fun family session in the afternoon as two friends brought two kids each to the river. We’re teaching again this Sunday 2nd September and our last scheduled date for this season is Saturday 15th September – spaces still available to book online via our Learn to SUP page.

But our big weekender was the star of the week: SUPstock 2018 on Sunday and Monday! With massive thanks to Andy and Jo we were welcomed back to South Fambridge for the August bank holiday… 2 days, 2 routes, 2 dogs, 3 pubs, 6 tents, 9 vans, 10 hours of partying, 17km of paddling, nearly 30 paddlers, maybe 40 pancakes, and countless tequilas! See and read more in our gallery on Facebook.

Only problem being, that level of partying may not have been ideal preparation for the next big thing on our radar, as next week Dunc’s off to Holland to compete in the SUP 11 City Tour – 220km around Friesland over 5 days of world-class endurance competition: if you see him this week, the last-minute nerves are really kicking in now, so do wish him luck!

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