Dan Charlish is the brains behind this coming weekend’s SUP Armada. Having already got a successful kitesurfing armada series going, and having tested the water with SUP last year, the decision was made to have a stand up version sitting as its own event. SUP Mag UK caught up with Dan for a quick Q&A ahead of this weekend’s SUP activities.
SUP Armada is happening this coming weekend – what can we expect?
Firstly it looks like a sunny day, the weather’s looking fantastic! There’s absolutely masses of SUP activities to get involved with at the Queen Mother Reservoir on Saturday, so there should be something for everyone.
The day is split in to two halves. The first half (10-2pm) is all about having a go at everything SUP – SUP polo, SUP Yoga, taster sessions, team races, sprint races, fun sprints, super laps, intermediate clinics and a chance to test out the latest gear and chat with all the leading brands in the SUP village. Then from 2pm we get everybody off the water ready for the GUINNESS World Record Attempt to have over 254 SUP boarders riding the 1 mile course that will be created on the day. As people finish the 1 mile record course, they can then go off and complete their additional laps round the reservoir (4, 7 or 10 mile distances) to help raise funds for the Armada Trust charities. It should be great fun for everyone, from beginners to experienced riders of all ages, finishing with presentations and a big party ‘til late.
We know you’re also involved in a similar concept with kitesurfing. How do you plan on evolving the SUP Armada?
Obviously this is the first year we’ve tried an Armada event based solely on SUP, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how the event goes. We’ve had loads of interest and fantastic support from across the industry and we’re really excited about where the event could go. If all works well, we would love to see the SUP Armada develop similar to the kitesurfing/sister event in to a SUP festival over the whole weekend incorporating camping, live bands, and so on, but most importantly let’s make this first event a success and we’ll take it from there.
What made you think SUP was a good fit for Armada type events?
Like kitesurfing, SUP boarding is a really fast-growing sport with loads of enthusiastic people involved. We just felt it would be really fun to develop another world record challenge, do something positive for the sport and engage people (as we have done with the kitesurfing model) as well as provide another great experience on the water. We also knew that SUP boarders would ‘get’ the charity aspect of the event – as kitesurfers do – to give something back to the Armada Trust and the associated charities.
How much paddling do you do – will you be doing your bit for the Guinness World Record attempt?
I have to say I’m not the most experienced SUP boarder myself as I’m just getting in to the sport, but yes, absolutely! I’ll be on the water on the day. But one of the most fantastic things about SUP, and the Armada particularly, is that you can arrive as an absolute beginner on the day, try it out in the morning and leave as Guinness world record holder by the time you leave. We want as many people involved in the world record attempt as we possibly can; our volunteers, sponsors, myself and the events team included!
How hard is it delivering an event like this?
There’s a lot to organise, and a lot of stuff has to come together for it to work, especially the first time round when starting a new event from scratch. We spent a lot of time talking to all the guys in the industry and getting everyone involved – the SUP media and SUP community etc. – and of course a lot of planning that’s gone on at Datchet Water Sailing Club itself. We’ve got a great team behind us and we’ve had fantastic support so far to get to this point and we just hope it all comes together on the day.
Do you think inland venues are better for mass participation SUP events?
From a risk point of view, they can be. It’s certainly easier to get lot’s more people on the water (children and beginners especially) in a more controlled environment. Of course some people would prefer the open water but we hope they understand why we’re choosing to run the event inland for this event; certainly for the world record attempt, SUP polo and SUP Yoga sessions etc. It was difficult to imagine how we could do this on the open water. In any case it’s a really stunning venue at Datchet with Windsor Castle in the background, and it should be a fantastic event with 100’s of SUPers in action all together.
What are you most looking forward to about 2015’s SUP Armada?
If we manage to achieve the world record it would me an amazing achievement in its first year, but beyond that I’m just looking forward to the atmosphere on the day, all based around fun and getting as many people on the water as possible. I’m also really looking forward to our first beer of the evening following the presentations (hopefully having all gone well), and of course raising lots of money for the partner charities.
Any final shout outs and thanks?
Big thanks to Andy Gratwick form Easy Riders and Simon Bassett from 2XS who’ve been a massive help with the event. The guys at Datchet Water Sailing Club. Our industry and media sponsors which are helping to make the event happen, but above all the SUP community who are signing up and fundraising, as without them we would have no event.
Don’t forget to enter and be part of the SUP Armada here – http://www.armadaevents.co.uk/events/sup-armada/sign-up/