Blog #40 – June buggy

Summer already seems to be flying by – and we’re having a lot of fun this year! SUP Club is proving more popular than ever with a few more meets up on the River Chelmer, we enjoyed a fantastic SUPfari camping trip on the River Arun in West Sussex over the late May bank holiday weekend, we’re teaching dozens of new paddlers at the weekends on our Learn to SUP lessons, plus we’ve come away with more wins at the last GB SUP race on the River Trent in Nottingham…

SUP Club has been brilliant as summer’s taken a hold – even though unworkable tides have kept us away from the coast on a Wednesday night, the River Chelmer has been busy with very happy paddlers… Two weeks ago a sunny evening at Papermill Lock saw the biggest turnout of the season so far as over 40 created an amazingly friendly atmosphere to welcome 13 new paddlers to the fold: more here. The following week, colder weather and a bit of rain meant a lower turnout – but we still had 17 ‘hardcore’ sect at Paper Mill Lock and with a pretty quick group we made a full 9km to Cuton Lock and back: more here. And then this week, we had a properly wet Wednesday at Mill House but the downpours didn’t dampen the spirits of 23 waterproof SUP Club paddlers who took on c.8k to the A12 roadbridge and back. And all followed by marvellous meals at the Six Bells Boreham. Stay tuned to @supsect on Facebook for details of future SUP Clubs.

Plus over the late May bank holiday weekend we took SUP Club across county lines with our Sussex SUPfari – a dozen of us set up camp at Cuckoo Camp beside the River Arun at Climping in West Sussex. Over four days we got four paddles in, racking up 49km in all: Friday evening was just a quick exploratory mission to check out conditions, as the first few of us were greeted with amazingly blue water and a resident seal at the launch. After more arrived at camp to gather around Friday evening’s campfire, Saturday was our first big group paddle – leaving a couple of hours before high tide, we went with the tidal push 9km up through Arundel and onwards to The Black Rabbit where we had a meal and a drink (for some, maybe a couple!) while we waited for the tide to turn and help us back home against the breeze. It worked out wonderfully well and we were back at camp for a BBQ and campfire in the evening having covered 18k all up. Both ways we were greeted by a second super-friendly seal, a little closer to Arundel, who closely escorted us up and back through his territory! Sunday’s paddle was to be one-way so we spent an hour after lunch ferrying a few vehicles up to our finish at Amberley before setting off up the Arun. The south-westerly wind was even stronger today, which combined with a late tide meant the downwind / down-tide option was definitely the right call – 16km flew by, including a little ‘adventure’ detour around the nature reserve after the Black Rabbit, and it really wasn’t long before we disembarked at the Amberley Riverside Tea Rooms (at a price! Negotiated down to £3 per head…) before moving on to The Bridge Inn for drinks and dinner. Then a quick drive back to Cuckoo Camp for another mighty night around the campfire. Bank Holiday Monday itself inevitably saw plenty of folk heading home as the tides were now late in the evening, but after decamping and dropping vehicles at our end point of The Black Rabbit, five stayed on for one last paddle! As it turned out, this was to be particularly memorable as having seen the local female seal again at the launch, a little way upstream, ten minutes were spent with the friendliest seal we’ve yet met as he went from paddler to paddler, resting his head on boards and even getting a stroke from El! An amazing end to a brilliant trip… Check out a huge gallery of photos on Facebook.

Meanwhile SUP school‘s still going strong – and last weekend saw a couple of fully booked BSUPA Ready to Ride learn to SUP lessons up at Papermill Lock on the River Chelmer in Essex. As El was unavailable, Dunc and Trev (aka; ‘Coach Nacho’!) led the courses on a glorious hot day in the sun. Find a gallery of photos here. June and July courses are filling up fast, so if you have friends and family wanting to learn to paddleboard please do get them to book now!

On top of all that, a few of us are still enjoying the niche that is stand-up paddleboard racing, and a SUPsect team of six headed ‘oop north’ to the GB SUP 4th round on the River Trent in Nottingham last weekend (part of ‘Paddle in the Park’ at the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepont). The weather was hot, a little too hot for absolute comfort but otherwise ideal race conditions. Only trouble this time was someone moved (or tried to steal?!?) the RedBull halfway turning buoy so the race only went three bridges upstream and back (rather than the four as briefed) for closer to 8km than the anticipated 10km! In the end Dunc (on his trusty Red Paddle Elite) narrowly took the overall 12’6″ victory in 59:48.88 after a full-on sprint-out battle over the first few k with local hero Mark ‘Mr RazzleDazzle’, our Al claimed 3rd 12’6″ (also on Red Paddle iSUP against the hardboards!), Andy was 1st veteran 12’6″, while Danny took 3rd in the 14′ 18-39 age category (an impressive 7th overall behind some fierce racers in a fast fleet). Dan collected Danny’s medal, as well as the series finishing points that both him and Kate earned. Top work all! Full results here.

So what’s coming up? Well, we continue with more Learn to SUP lessons at Paper Mill Lock on Sunday, then it’s SUP Club on Wednesday when we’re hoping to get back to the coast at Chalkwell for a splashabout if the weather plays ball, and then it’s the UK SUP Thames Ultra on Saturday with a quick 45km down the River Thames for a few of the endurance racers amongst us – in fact, we have a relay team of three plus five solo racers, so best make that ‘several’…