Interview: SUP Mag UK
Pics: Phil Plume, SUP Armada, Georgia Wharton
Phil Plume is husband, dad and regular fixture at stand up paddle board races around the coast. Fanatic supported, his family is made up of three offspring and one long suffering wife. The kids are regularly in the water, paddling, surfing and having fun. We caught up with the Plumes to get the lowdown on their SUP antics.
Where’s home and your local SUP put in?
All – Home is about 30 mins from the coast in Midhurst. Local SUP put ins are Bracklesham Bay, Pagham and West Wittering in West Sussex on the south coast of England.
Tell us how you all discovered stand up paddle boarding?
Jack – Dad
Alfie – Dad
Sophie – Dad
Phil – I became aware of it in the early days as I am also a windsurfer. I discovered an old stand up paddle surf forum and learned more. It wasn’t until my first race and ventures into waves that I became hooked.
Were you into any other watersports before? If so, do you still practice these?
Alfie – Bodyboarding and I still do this when it’s really rough or windy. Swimming, but I don’t do this anymore. I love playing in the shorebreak. I didn’t do it before, but I now love windsurfing and surfing.
Sophie – I tried windsurfing before, but don’t really do it now. I also love surfing.
Jack – Bodyboarding and swimming. I don’t swim anymore, but bodyboard when the sea is too rough. I really like surfing too.
Phil – Yes, windsurfing! I still do it and love it! There’s so much to learn, it never ends. I still get a kick from the speed and technical difficulty.
Other than each other, who do you mainly paddle with?
Alfie – Holly Bassett at West Wittering and Luke Wharton from time to time.
Sophie – Daisy Basset, that’s it. Although I did have a pretty good paddle with Virginia Goodwill at the National Watersports Festival in 2015.
Jack – Holly Bassett and Jay Manning (Jay SUP)
Phil – I’m generally either solo or paddling with the kids. I have had some cracking downwinders with Charlie Grey and some pretty good surf sessions with Phil May and Lee Rolfe (LAR Watersports) over the winter. A long day trip to Saunton with the kids, Mark Slater and his daughter Lola last autumn stands out in everyone’s mind as an epic day!
Are your sessions a mix of surf and flat water or do you aim for a specific set of conditions?
Alfie – I like it when there’s no wind and good waves.
Sophie – I am not too keen on waves, but don’t like it to be totally flat. It depends what I’m doing. I love SUP polo so flat is best for that.
Jack – I like surf and flat water, it really depends what we are doing on the day.
Phil – I love the surf and get out whenever conditions are suitable. I also enjoy a good race, with comps in the rough stuff being preferred to flat water slogs. I generally try to get out in all conditions as that’s the way to improve.
Where’s your favourite UK place to paddle – what makes it special?
Alfie – I like paddling in the harbour at Pagham with my dad. It’s special because it’s like a mini adventure and there’s really cool stuff there. It’s tidal so you have to time it just right so you don’t get stuck in the mud. There are also lots of fish and ‘mud coral’ under the water.
Sophie – I went paddling in Boscastle in Cornwall last year. It was great because it was nice and quiet and sunny, and I could jump off the harbour wall.
Jack – West Wittering, because the waves there are always good and it’s a nice beach. I also like surfing at Polzeath as the waves are big.
Phil – I love a good road trip and Saunton is pretty easy for us to get to and a lovely SUP wave. It’s also good for the kids to learn. I recently discovered a new aspect to this spot when I paddled out to the point for a pretty epic session. I think Staunton’s got everything, even the bloody long walk!
What about overseas – where’s that gem of location and why should other paddlers head there?
Alfie – Lanzarote. We went on holiday to Costa Teguise a couple of years ago and I did windsurfing and SUP. It’s sunny with really clear water and HOT, so you don’t need a wetsuit.
Sophie – Lanzarote. It’s warm and I paddled in a flat lagoon, but this was connected to the sea. It was clear water and looked tropical.
Jack – Lanzarote. It’s really the only other place I’ve been. People should go there because it’s hot and the water is warm. And my favourite pizza place is there ‘La Otra’. Me and my brother had to walk my dad home from there when he was DRUNK!
Phil – Being a family of five, travel overseas is limited. The kids have only been abroad once and myself only twice while I have been involved in the sport. I have been to Lanzarote twice and downwinded, surfed and cruised in the warm, clear waters. It’s an awesome place and the family holiday town of Costa Teguise is well worth a visit. Go and test out the reef just outside the harbour at Famara town.
With travel in mind, are you heading anywhere for warmer SUP shenanigans?
Jack – I really want to go to Portugal and am trying to talk my parents into it.
Phil – We are working on plans for next year. Jack and I are fancying a road trip to Portugal.
Do you have any SUP spots to visit on your bucket lists?
Alfie – I would go and surf in Hawaii. I want to surf Jaws because I want to surf a big wave as it’s really exciting and I will get famous.
Sophie – I want to go somewhere warm and SUP through caves where the sunlight shines through the roof and into the tropical water. I also want to SUP through a shipwreck. So any ideas where I can do that, please let me know!
Jack – I would go to Hawaii and Jersey, because I think they sound like good places.
Phil – It has to be Maui for me. Epic downwinders, windsurf and surf, combined with tropical weather and wind. That’s got to be the dream location hasn’t it?
Who do you look up to and get inspiration from?
Alfie – My Daddy, because he inspires me not to be a lazy person on an XBox all day and get out…
Sophie – Dad because he is handsome and so great.
Jack – My Dad, because he’s my Dad and Holly Bassett, because she has given me some really good tips on SUP surfing.
Phil – Anyone who gets out there and lives life to the full. Anyone who is not scared to give things a try and push their own boundaries.
What about globally – who lights your fire and makes you want to get out on the brine?
Alfie – Kai Lenny because he inspires me to do good surfing.
Jack – Kai Lenny and Kelly Slater and Jay Moriarty. I read Chasing Mavericks and
that really inspired me.
Have you any burning SUP aspirations?
Alfie – I normally come second or third in races but this year I want to come first.
Sophie – No, it’s fun for me.
Jack – I want to win races and do a SUP surf competition.
Phil – I have a big endurance challenge in me somewhere. I just have to find one that fits in with family life. I am so envious of some of the challenges that are being planned at the moment, such as SUP the Nile, Yukon Challenge and others, but just don’t have the time to complete something like this. I need to get my thinking cap on. As far as 2016 is concerned, I want to deliver a successful Paddle Round the Pier SUP Games.
How will you achieve that?
Alfie – By paddle boarding all the time, because then I’ll get better and stronger and be like yearrrrrrrrr!
Sophie – By having fun.
Jack – By lots of training and practice.
Phil – Through lots of hard work.
Do you do any land based activities that help with SUP?
Alfie- I do land paddle boarding, BMX and whacking stuff with sticks.
Sophie – I play for the school netball team and that keeps me pretty fit.
Jack – Land paddle boarding, rip sticking and BMX.
Phil – Running and cycling.
Talk to us about your gear – what kit are you currently rocking and why?
Alfie – I have one of Dad’s old Fanatic carbon paddles cut down to size for me. I love my paddle. I use my brother’s Escape 7.4ft board for surf and the Red Paddle kids 10.6ft for racing. I also have a 6ft foam surf board and two land paddle boards.
Sophie – I usually use my Dad’s Fanatic Pro Wave for general paddling. When I’m at an event I grab any demo gear that I can.
Jack – I have a Fanatic carbon paddle cut down for me. An Escape 7.4ft paddle board, wetsuit, boots and gloves. I love my Rip Stick as it’s like surfing. I use Red Paddle 10.6ft inflatable race board for racing.
Phil – For waves I have the Fanatic Pro Wave 8.9ft. I went for this board as it simply rips in the larger waves. It’s fast and really provides the thrill I’m looking for in the bigger conditions. I also have my eye on the Stylemaster, as in the smaller, cruisier waves it’s just so much fun.
For racing I use the 2016 14ft Falcon. I genuinely think this is the best Fanatic race board to date! It’s super fast in the ocean and keeps up with more dedicated boards on the flat. It’s also the best board to own if most of your paddling is done on the sea or in choppy inland waters.
My paddles are 2016 7.25” 100% carbon paddle cut to race and surf lengths. These paddles are super light, powerful and really strong.
Have you got a magic set up in your SUP arsenal?
Phil – The Falcon in those windy, ocean races. It’s hard to beat!
What do you think about the UK’s stand up scene in general – anything you’d like to see change?
Alfie – I think that the kid’s races are sometimes a bit long for an 8 year old. I think that everyone should race on either inflatables or carbon boards, not a mixture. I would like to see SUP surfing events for kids, but not on big days.
Sophie – When my dad goes to an event and I haven’t got anything to do, I get kinda bored, so they have to do something about that. I don’t know what to do, but something! There should definitely be more SUP polo competitions, as this is the aspect of SUP I really enjoy.
Jack – I think the scene is good. I think it is unfair if someone has a hard board and everyone else has inflatables. I want to see more SUP stalls at the events. The race at National Watersports Festival was a bit too long last year. I want to see a kid’s surf event at West Wittering. I also want more SUP polo competitions.
Phil – I think the SUP scene is great at the moment. There are loads of SUP races on the calendar, so many in fact that there are now some clashes occurring. There’s also a greater variety of races, from flat water to waves and, with the Icon Event in Devon, now a downwind race! I believe that we do have to be careful to understand that not everyone wants to race. The clubs around the country are doing an awesome job of attracting new paddlers and showing off new aspects to the sport. I think that more fun events with a competitive edge are needed. This year we have Paddle Round the Pier, SUP Armada, the National Watersports Festival and the National SUP Clubs event, which all cater for the recreational paddler wanting to have fun, do something different and get involved in the SUP community. Entry fees for children should be kept as low as possible. Let the adults fund the kids’ fun!
Where do you see the biggest growth of the sport?
Alfie – I think that just paddling around in different conditions and jumping off boards is the best. Well for me it is.
Sophie – I think cruising around is the biggest area of growth. Inflatable boards have made this so much fun. I also think that short, fun games like SUP polo are the best form of competition.
Jack – Cruising. People who are just starting will probably buy cruiser boards first so this will grow faster.
Phil – SUP is all about fun and that’s what going to make it grow. It doesn’t really matter what you’re into, as long as it’s fun people will do it. I personally think that folk cruising around with friends, or the kids, is going to be the biggest growth area. Inflatable SUPs are getting better all the time and this is opening the door to these new recreational paddlers.
Quick fire – bacon or sausage, dogs or cats, blonde or brunette, tea or coffee and black or blue?
Alfie – sausage, dogs, blonde, TEA!, black
Sophie- bacon, dogs, brunette, tea, blue.
Jack – bacon, dogs, blonde, hot chocolate, blue
Phil – bacon, dogs, ginger, tea, blue,
Any final shout outs?
Alfie – Shouts out to anyone who’s reading this.
Sophie – Daisy Bassett and my friends Nanny Mathi, Lana and Milli who all go to my school.
Jack – Thank you to my Dad for telling me about the sport and helping me to get good at it. Holly Bassett for her tips on surfing and SUPM for giving me this opportunity.
Phil – Shout out to my missus Jo for putting up with me disappearing off all the time to paddle and windsurf. Also thanks to Nik Baker and the rest of the Fanatic UK team for their continued support. And finally, everyone who’s ever helped me out or cheered me on during a race