Frequently Asked Questions: Read on for our FAQ – frequently asked questions…

What is SUP?

SUP is an acronym for Stand-up Paddleboarding (aka; paddlesurfing). Basically a cross between surfing and canoeing, it’s a 21st century reinvention of a traditional Polynesian watercraft. We stand up on oversized surfboards (c. 9′ to 14′ in length, 25″ to 34″ wide) and propel ourselves with single-bladed paddles. Although it was borne from surfing and you’ll find a lot of paddleboards in breaking waves, the sport of SUP has grown massively on flat water – recreational, exploring, touring and racing are all very popular. To learn all about stand-up paddleboarding, come and join our Learn to SUP lesson.

Can I do it?

Probably! We’ve successfully taught all sorts of people from 8 to 80+ years old… In our experience you just need to be of average fitness and able to easily transition from kneeling to standing to learn to SUP. Although we teach in buoyancy aids and insist that all paddlers always wear a leash to stay attached to the board, it is also important that paddleboarders are able to swim and are reasonably confident in the water. Paddleboarding in suitable conditions on flat water is very low impact on the joints, although especially at first it does take a surprising amount of energy to stand up and paddle – but if you’re able to do an hour of exercise (yoga, a gentle gym session, aerobics, even a brisk walk) you should be absolutely fine to SUP. We accept accompanied teenagers on our scheduled SUP lessons and can tailor bespoke sessions to include younger children down to 10 year-olds. There is no upper age limit, although we do need to be made aware of any medical conditions or injuries before the lesson so we can make suitable arrangements.

Where can I paddle?

You can SUP virtually anywhere there’s waist-deep water! In practice, except for surfing which needs a breaking wave, we tend to seek out the flattest, most sheltered water possible. That means about a dozen venues on the Thames Estuary, River Crouch and non-tidal River Chelmer. (Be aware of tides, currents and wind conditions, as per our weather page.) For an idea of where best to paddle in South Essex, check out our local SUP spots page. We teach our Learn to SUP lessons at Paper Mill Lock on the River Chelmer,  while our most popular venues for SUP Club are Two Tree Island and Chalkwell Beach on the Thames Estuary in Leigh-on-Sea and Mill House up on the River Chelmer near Chelmsford. Other favourite spots include Thorpe Bay, Hoe Mill Lock, Shoebury East Beach and Hullbridge

What do I wear?

Actually a surprisingly common refrain! Although SUP is undoubtedly a watersport, unless you’re out in waves (which we don’t get much of out east) it’s not particularly immersive – ie; once you get the hang of it you’re pretty unlikely to fall in. That said, there is always the danger you might end up in the water, so it is important that you dress accordingly. We generally recommend that you wear just enough neoprene to protect you from the elements and keep you comfortable if you do fall in. In practice that usually means shorts and rashvests / sleeveless paddle vests are enough in the summer, shorties in spring / autumn, and sleeveless long-john wetsuits (2 or 3mm) are usually enough in winter. Plus baselayers and light windproof clothing depending on the weather. If you’re coming to one of our Learn to SUP lessons, we provide all kit – all you need to bring is a towel, and arrive wearing swimming kit under your clothes: do bring a wetsuit, neoprene boots or shoes and/or a buoyancy aid if you have your own, but if not no problem: we supply shortie wetsuits, surf shoes and CE approved 50N buoyancy aids.