In high summer 2020 we were able to run several SUP Clubs as demonstrably COVID-19 Secure organised participation sports events, following our protocol below. But as infection rates began to rise towards autumn we opted to draw our season to a close early rather than risk acting selfishly and irresponsibly in the face of a second peak. For 2021, assuming the government’s ‘road map’ goes to plan, we’re hopeful that we should be able to formally organise SUP Club within official guidelines to run from April onwards… Exactly how and when is yet to be decided (at time of writing, 23rd February 2021) – but watch this space!
C-19 SUP Club protocol (updated April 2021)
• 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).
• Please, whenever possible, leave some space between vehicles when parking.
• Pack a facemask and wear it around your neck (SUPsect necktubes available here!) and in case you find yourself particularly close to anyone, please be polite and cover your face!
• Bring your own hand sanitiser – use it when you arrive before getting out of your car, and again before you drive home.
• 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 serious situation, we’re still trying to avoid administering first aid 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 again (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.