Blog #39 – Maydays!

And so the year has marched on into May… Naturally, we’re getting out more than ever – and haven’t been letting the occasionally questionable weather get the better of us. We’ve had several more super-successful SUP Clubs, a brilliant Mayday Monday paddle, plus Learn to SUP lessons are in full swing, and we’ve seen great performances from SUPsect racers at the last two GB SUP races on the Thames in London and the Taff in Cardiff too!

SUP Club continues to be our main drive, and has really been going from strength to strength despite the vaguely misfiring start to summer. A few weeks ago 16 of us braved the wind and cold for a blast up towards the A12 from Mill House. A fortnight ago, a mighty 38 paddlers hit Two Tree so early in the evening at 6pm for a great paddle out towards Seal Point and back. Last week, despite a cold, wet day, an impressive 18 turned out at Papermill Lock. Then last night we had a fantastic 34 hit Hoe Mill Lock for an awesome evening’s paddle east to Beeleigh and back, before a grand dinner at the Hurdlemakers Arms. And on top of our regular Wednesday nights, we called a Mayday Bank Holiday Monday paddle to Barge Gladys in Benfleet from Two Tree – quite a workout into the wind on the way out but we absolutely flew home with the wind and tide! We’ll definitely be building in a visit to Gladys on a couple of SUP Clubs later this summer… Check out @supsect on Facebook and @supsectuk on Insta for pictures and resumés of all of our recent SUP Clubs.

SUP School has continued strong too – we’re already much busier we were this time last year! A couple of Sundays ago we had a full beginner’s session followed by a bespoke improver session in the afternoon. Then last weekend we had four fully-booked beginner lessons at Paper Mill Lock – morning and afternoon Saturday and Sunday – plus a sunset Progression Session for a fun little family group in the evening. Find a gallery of images here. Our next scheduled lessons are Sundays 2nd and 9th of June, then we continue throughout June and July – see our full availability via our new booking platform

A few of us are also enjoying our SUP racing – and the last couple of weeks have seen some great performances at the last two GB SUP national series races. First up was the iconic Battle of the Thames where gale force winds meant another shortened course – 10km around three short laps between Thames Sailing Club and Kingston Bridge. SUPsect paddlers performed amazingly in tough conditions: an awesome 1st & 3rd 12’6” overall (1st & 2nd iSUPs) for Dunc and Al on their Red Paddle boards. Danny (that’s ‘new Dan’!) put in a storming race to finish really strong in the 14’ fleet, Kate finished 3rd in the women’s 14’ iSUP, while Andy made the 12’6″ age category podium. Full results here.Then the weekend before last, Cardiff played host – another 10k, this time through Cardiff Bay and up the River Taff to turn outside the Millennium Stadium. Andy claimed another 2nd place on the 12’6″ age category podium, while Kate and Dan (‘old Dan’!) finished the course strong to claim series points. Next up on the GB SUP series is Nottingham on 1st June.

Then last weekend, a few of the ‘sect headed to Bray Lake in the sunshine for the first round of their summer race series. This summer, rather than splitting fleets via gender and board size, Frosty and co have introduced a league system whereby all of the racers are split into five divisions depending on their 2k time trial time. We’ll be watching with interest how that progresses… Talking of Bray, we’re just getting ourselves organised ahead of the British SUP Club Championships at Bray Lake on Saturday 28th September. An awesome day of fun inter-club racing with categories for everyone from total novices to experienced racers … and we have a 5th place to defend from 2018! This year, registration is a bit different – with teams capped at 20, each club captain (ie; El!) needs to reserve places for their whole team in advance… Our first step is to work out who’s interested, so please let us know by emailing [email protected] if you are definitely available on 28th September and up for racing, be that: A) really keen to race, if you’ll have me; B) happy to race, if you want me; or C) prepared to race, if you really need me! Once we know numbers and interest levels, we’ll see if we need to run some kind of selection process! Remember, novice racers are just as important (maybe more-so?) as experienced campaigners, so if you’re up for this please don’t be shy…

Looking a little nearer in the future, this coming weekend Dunc, Al, and Kate are into endurance mode as they’re competing over 70km at the UK SUP Norfolk Ultra 2-day race. Then next weekend we’re heading down to Sussex over the late May bank holiday to enjoy some social paddling on the River Arun and – you never know – possibly a south coast wave or two if there’s swell? Meanwhile SUP Club continues every Wednesday evening, and Learn to SUP lessons will be back throughout June and July…

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