SUP Club update (15th September 2020): in brief, sadly we are drawing our SUP Club season to a close early this year. As the C19 tide has clearly turned again, even continuing legally would feel selfish and irresponsible when (much as we love to) we don’t actually need to gather in large numbers in order to enjoy a paddle…
In more detail: having operated as a demonstrably COVID-19 Secure participation sports event throughout the summer, although this week’s law change (‘rule of 6’) still cites organised sports as an exception, the published guidance to qualify us is subtly but importantly different to that which we followed when restrictions were eased a few months ago. To now place ourselves within the latest Sport England and British Canoeing (which is the closest thing we have to an officially recognised NGB) guidance – and therefore legitimise gatherings of more than six – would mean massively formalising what is essentially an informal club meet. While the paddling itself in a group is very easily addressed in C19 terms, it’s the associated gathering in public spaces beforehand and afterwards that we just can’t manage – to meet guidelines we’d need everyone pre-registered, with staggered arrival and departure times, one-way systems, hand sanitising stations, contact tracing, extra public liability measures etc as per any official race or event. Which really isn’t what Wednesdays are about… And frankly, even if we were prepared to push on regardless, with infection rates and the general public mood the way it’s going it really doesn’t seem like the right thing to do at the moment. So sadly, we’ve decided to draw SUP Club season to a close early this year. Please keep getting out there and representing SUPsect so well – and please keep doing so in groups of six or fewer. Then all being well, we can all get back together again in spring!
C-19 SUP Club protocol (July 2020)
• If you or any member of your household are feeling unwell, please stay at home – there’s always another time…
• No gathering before the launch – get yourself ready and get straight onto the water. Wait for everyone to launch, then we’ll head off (if we’re planning a distance route).
• Read the call – we won’t be able to do paddle briefings before we launch, so please read the plan of action in advance (@SUPsectUK on Facebook, or scroll down to the foot of this page).
• Keep a paddle length apart – on the water and off, respect each other’s personal space…
• No hugging, shaking hands etc – we’re still staying socially distanced, so to greet each other just wave, bow, tap paddle blades, or say hello!
• No helping anyone onto or off the water, or help preparing kit etc – it’s every paddler for themselves for the time being…
• No swapping kit – what’s yours is yours, keep it to yourself!
• Look after yourself – unless it’s a very serious situation, we shouldn’t be administering first aid right now or pulling people back onto their boards etc.
• No hanging out afterwards – it’s a shame we can’t be as sociable as usual, but when we’re done we’ll just need to pack up and head home. Although we are now able to paddle in bigger numbers (as SUP Club classifies as a grassroots sport participation event) we’re still not allowed to socialise in groups of more than six.
• Please follow the protocol! We’re super-keen for SUP Club to operate at last, which means we have to run it within Covid-19 Secure guidelines – ie; doing everything we can to minimise social contact. If you see anything or anyone in breach of these rules, please say something. And if someone reminds you of the protocol, please do listen and don’t take offence!
SUPsect SUP Club meets every Wednesday night throughout British Summer Time, from when the clocks go forward in spring to when they go back in autumn – if you have your own kit and know how to paddle it, it’s completely free of charge and you’re very welcome to just come along and join us. If you don’t have your own board, limited hire kit is available when conditions and route are suitable – as long as you have completed our Learn to SUP course or can prove competence on a stand-up paddleboard (email [email protected] to secure yours…)
We go every week throughout BST, whatever the weather, so conditions will dictate how tough / easy the evening will be and how long / short the route. Some weeks, particularly when it’s warm, sunny and still, we’ll call an ‘all-comers’ night that will be very relaxed and suitable for everyone. But other weeks, often when it’s windy and/or cold, we might call it a ‘challenging’ or even ‘hardcore’ night that will demand some experience and paddling strength / confidence to keep up with the group and therefore won’t suit first-time SUP Clubbers.
We paddle at various Essex SUP spots depending on tide times and conditions: some of our favourites launches include Two Tree, Chalkwell and Thorpe Bay on the Thames Estuary, Hullbridge on the River Crouch, and Mill House, Papermill Lock (where we teach our paddleboard lessons) and Hoe Mill Lock on the River Chelmer. After the paddle, which usually lasts from 90 minutes to 2-hours covering c. 6-9km, we generally fit in a post paddle pint – and often dinner at a pub or curryhouse too (although that’s absolutely not compulsory, everyone is very welcome to join us for either, both, or neither!)
While we try to keep SUP Club as relaxed as possible, in order for it to work safely and effectively we do need to operate within a few simple rules:
• Leashes are compulsory for all paddlers at all times.
• No late launching (especially if you’re pumping up, please arrive in plenty of time to make the published launch time).
• No chewing gum on the water.
• Respect the turning time / place (as per the call and/or briefing) so we all get back broadly together as a group.
• Please paddle responsibly and courteously – don’t endanger yourself or other water users by paddling unsafely.
Full details of SUP Club, which vary week to week depending on weather, tides and wind, are published Facebook page @SUPsectUK. (And below!) As the forecast develops we’ll give a heads-up of the likely location via Facebook on Tuesday evening, before calling the event for sure by Wednesday lunchtime.