Words: Martin Plater
Pics: Mark Buckingham
SUP Clubs are springing up all over the UK – as many paddlers will no doubt be aware. The latest group to make a good showing is Chasewater SUP Club located in Staffordshire and the original stomping ground of SUPM’s editor. When we heard about Martin Plater and the team’s efforts in helping promote, develop and grow stand up paddling in the area we just had to tap them up. Over to Martin.
The club was formed in 1955 as a sailing cub and currently has a membership in excess of 200. This membership is mainly sailing and windsurfing but is now starting to change. We have about 30 people actively involved in SUP. People are migrating from both windsurfing and sailing and are giving stand up a go.
SUP within the sailing club is still very young. It is within the last 18 months that the sport has been accepted by the committee to be part of the club. I got involved last October when I found out that the club now allowed stand up paddling as part of its membership. I have become the person that people will meet and get information from when asking about it. As a member you can paddle 365 days of the year and we have dedicated Thursday evenings to SUP socials.
The focus is now more family oriented. Chasewater still has a competitive arm but it is more relaxed. You can finish off your session with a beer in the fantastic club house which has been fully refurbished. Through 2016 the club is trying to get itself on the map to say we are here. The website has been completely updated and we send out regular bulletins (newsletter).
Local shop Boardwise will be bringing their demo van to the lake on Thursday socials and kit is available for all members to use. Since the changes made and the efforts being put in place we have seen more interest in stand up at Chase Sailing Club. We see huge potential to hold race events along its 90 hectares shores. We have previously held GP14 sailing champs and windsurfing regattas here so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t include SUP racing. We also have the possibility of organising SUP Yoga with our local Yogis who paddles.
Most members are into flat water. However there are a few that venture to the coast for swell. We also have the canal system past the dam. This adds another dimension as does power boat wake which can be ridden. Starboard and Red Paddle Co found this out during one of their demo days when they encountered a breaking wave travelling across the lake!
There’s the opportunity for going ‘off site’ with organised club SUP adventures. We recently did a trip down the River Severn and through the scenery of Iron Bridge as we made our way to Bridgenorth. Bala and Aberdovey in Wales, Cornwall and Devon also feature in our itinerary of travel locations. We aim for places that suit all paddler wants and needs. Vassiliki in Greece is a favourite overseas spot which lends itself to flat water in the morning followed by downwind in the afternoon, or windsurfing if you’d prefer. Maui may also be on the cards at some point – watch this space!
Training is currently being arranged and we hope to get a few members qualified as instructors. This will help bring new members into the club and allow us to offer courses. We entice new windsurfers this way and hope the same will happen with SUP.
Recreational paddling and youth is where the future of the club lies. We have noticed that some of the kids prefer to be out paddling than any other discipline. SUP is for every one though. Racing will allow the competitive side to grow but ultimately we want families getting involved and not having it is a one dimensional sport.
As mentioned Boardwise have kindly lent us some boards and paddles. We do, however, hope to buy kit as the club grows. The main objective is to get somebody on a board if they turn up and want to try stand up.
Chase is able to offer stand up paddling long term. We have proof of that already – just look at windsurfing and sailing. Sailing since 1955 and windsurfing since the 80s. If the forecasted growth is anything to go by then we feel we’ll be here years from now. With the support of quality brands and retailers we think we’re in a good place. Boardwise have been great and I hope they continue to support us.
As more clubs spring up I would like to see us getting together to share ideas. At the end of the day we are not fighting each other for members but we want to get as many people involved as possible and grow the sport. I think the future is a stable ship. You join a club that has access to its own stretch of water and then you venture to other places from that base.
Finally I would like to thank the club for accepting stand up at what once was predominantly just sailing. I would like to thank Boardwise for the use of their demo gear and supporting us. I also would like to thank you for including us in SUP Mag UK (our pleasure – ed).