Blog #27 – Indian summer

We’ve had some amazing weather this last couple of weeks which has produced awesome paddleboarding conditions for us to enjoy – we’ve lit ourselves up for another couple of dusky SUP Clubs, enjoyed some sublime training and recreational paddles, plus Dunc’s 1-2-1 race coaching is proving ever-more-popular ahead of the first round of the inaugural EASI (East Anglian SUP Initiative) monthly series of winter races on Saturday… OK, this coming weekend’s ‘Arctic blast’ may come as a shock to the system – but our SUP year’s far from over as we’ve got plenty more to look forward to!

Back on Wednesday 10th October, the weather forecasters had correctly predicted this Indian summer as temperatures boosted back up to over 20°C – but we didn’t have workable tides for the coast, so SUP Club headed back to the River Chelmer at Papermill Lock. As there was no moon, we had to get started crazy early in order to finish in twilight before total darkness fell, yet despite a 5.30pm meet before many were even out of work, 22 keen paddlers still enjoyed a chilled-out 6k loop to All Saints Church and back as darkness fell. Then 14 of us hit the Six Bells for dinner. Another great night (check out the gallery on Facebook).

Last week’s SUP Club saw us back on the Thames for a repeat performance of our popular ‘Paddle to the Pub‘ from Chalkwell to the Crooked Billet in Old Leigh. This time, pretty much in the dark both ways! Seventeen of us hit Chalkwell soon after sunset for a 6.20pm launch, well lit up with various LEDs for the gentle 2.5km paddle into Old Leigh for a drink outside the Crooked Billet. Then it was another super-atmospheric paddle back on the glassy water in the dark, lit by our trusty green and red lights for safety. Afterwards, 13 of us hit the Yak & Yeti curryhouse for dinner and drinks. Fantastic. See more @SUPsect on Facebook.

Looking ahead, this week’s SUP Club #30 seems to be pointing back to the river – although a 7.29pm low tide @0.7m could be workable down the Ray from Two Tree, the moderate north-westerly breeze that’s currently forecast really isn’t ideal. So we’re likely to be back up on the River Chelmer, maybe from Hoe Mill Lock this time? And with a full moon (a hunter’s moon, no less!) we shouldn’t need to be too ridiculously early and can just embrace another night paddle. Hopefully! TBC Wednesday morning @SUPsect on Facebook and here via SUP Club #30.

And then after the clocks have gone back we traditionally finish our Wednesday evening SUP Club season. But next week, Wednesday 31st is Halloween so we’re planning to get out one last time (before we move to suitable Saturdays and Sundays through winter, as and when weather and conditions allow). There’s no telling what the weather will deliver for Halloween quite yet, but the tide’s right to hit Chalkwell in the evening if the wind allows – and if not, we’re considering Chelmsford city centre as a fallback! Either way, although dressing up isn’t compulsory, several SUP Clubbers have already sorted out costumes and we’ll definitely need to be lit up (again, please not bright white; greens and red LEDs are spookily popular!)

Meanwhile last week we retained some amazing late summertime conditions, with warm temperatures, blue skies, hot sun and barely any wind! Absolutely ideal for race training – and Dunc did get out from Two Tree for a 15k blast around Southend Pier – so it couldn’t have been a better week for a couple more 1-2-1 sessions with two new race coaching clients. The Ray really came into its own with glassy conditions for the 2-hour sessions covering stroke sequencing, power phasing, cadence, turning and starting techniques and strategies, drafting, plus some interval training close-quarters work between Two Tree and Seal Point on Southend’s Ray. If you want to add some serious power to your stroke, polish your skills, learn race strategies and work on your fitness and technique over winter, Dunc’s 2-hour 1-2-1 race coaching sessions are available for £80 at dates and locations to suit. Get in touch via [email protected]

Then last weekend the weather peaked again, with glorious 20°C+ temperatures reminding everyone just how great this summer’s been and gifting us some magic paddleboarding conditions: El & Dunc took on a 12k training paddle down the Ray, a couple of others enjoyed amazing high tide conditions from Canvey’s Lobster Smack, and then on Sunday a larger group spent the morning cruising from Two Tree Island to Benfleet and back. All still in shorts and vests – how’s that for late October?!?

So, we’re hoping the mid-term weather forecast softens ahead of this weekend as Saturday sees the inaugural EASI winter series kick off with the first race, hosted by Barefoot, provisionally at Hunstanton on Saturday 27th October (register here) … although on current forecast it has to be said we’re half expecting it to at least move inland to tuck out of the fierce northerly winds on the forecast. We’ve collaborated with the other big East Anglian SUP clubs to form EASI: the East Anglian SUP Initiative to run our own regional winter race series, open to everyone from novices to experienced racers with classes to suit various board types. We’ll be hosting the final event in February and your best three results of the five monthly races will count towards an overall ranking – much more on the EASI Facebook page. Dates and venues are:
• EASI 1 – Saturday 27th October, Hunstanton, hosted by Barefoot
• EASI 2 – Sunday 25th November, Alton Water, hosted by Suffolk
• EASI 3 – Saturday 15th December, Chigboro Fishery in Maldon, hosted by Frangipani
• EASI 4 – Sunday 20th January 2019, Hickling Broad, hosted by Norfolk Outdoor Adventures
• EASI 5 – Sunday 24th February 2019, South Essex location TBA, hosted by SUPsect

Maybe see you there?

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