By Del Read – https://delkayaks.co.uk
Photos: Jack Grace, Tom Clare and Del Read
Having gotten into white water stand-up paddling boarding (SUP) last year, I decided to put together a series of white water SUP-focused articles. The articles are to help guide beginners in white water SUP and each article has a different focus and a different guest writer. My first article introduced the series and focused on the different boards you find in SUP. My second article looked at the moves on white water you can do on a SUP and how to achieve them. My third article looked at the safety considerations that should be taken.
This fourth and final article in my SUP series will look at the rapidly growing white water SUP community and how you can get involved. Thank you very much to Matt and Eddy for helping me with this one!
Matt Stephenson is one of the most lovable paddlers in the UK. Matt paddles in multiple disciplines, including SUP. He is on the GB freestyle kayaking team, has just completed a river running expedition in Borneo, works as a raft guide AND still has time to wow us all on his SUP. Here he talks about the UK white water SUP community.
Tell us about the white water SUP community here in the UK!
“The white water SUP community is relatively young compared to other outdoor adventure sports like windsurfing or kayaking. In other parts of the world, like the States, white water SUP is a much more established sport. In the UK, however, it is still relatively new. Whilst a growing number of people do it, the sport in the UK is still in its infancy.
“That means that we have incredible energy in the community. Everybody is relatively new to it, which is cool. Everybody is learning, and this means the sport is evolving at a swift pace. People are trying new things, but many things in white water SUP are novel for everybody. Everyone is still a relative beginner when it comes to white water SUP!
“The community is growing. Seeing all the different hubs popping up already in the UK is exciting. There are groups based around the white water course, such as Holme Pierrepont (HPP). Then there are little communities of paddlers wherever you might find regular white water, such as down in Dartmoor, South Wales and, of course, Scotland! It is incredible to think of all these paddlers forming their own little communities and going out to paddle together.
“Often, these groups will then come together to paddle with each other at events and festivals. There are now annual white water SUP-specific events here in the UK every year. Other paddling events which have previously involved canoe and kayaking only are now branching out to include white water SUP. It is a great chance to come together and meet other white water SUP paddlers. Or, for non-SUP paddlers too, give it a go!
“For myself, the Nottingham community is cool. A lot of effort has been put in by several people to establish that community. There are always really cool vibes that you get when paddling down at the course with the paddleboarders. Some nights the paddleboards even outnumber the playboats! It is all about having fun and just giving it a good crack. Everyone is there to try new things and to have a laugh. It is exciting, energetic and above all fun.” See Matt’s video below!
Thank you, Matt, for being instrumental in making the white water SUP community here in the UK as wonderful as it is!
Eddy Williams is another Nottingham local who regularly paddles white water SUP. As one of the younger members of our HPP SUP club, I asked Eddy if he would like to be involved in this final article, and I wanted to be able to share a younger point of view on white water SUP. So over to Eddy!
Tell us about yourself and how you got into white water SUP.
“I am 17 and attend sixth form in Nottinghamshire. I have been white water SUP paddling for about five years. I first got into paddling when I joined HPP Canoe Club. I had paddled whilst on holiday in 2012 in the Isles of Scilly and wanted to take it up as a sport. I initially kayaked but after a couple of years moved onto SUP.
“My first experience of white water SUP was with Barry Hughes from Nottingham WWSUP. He let me try a SUP on the white water course one day, and I paddled through Inlet gate, the first stopper on the course, and have been hooked ever since.”
Tell us about your experience with the white water SUP community.
“None of my friends did anything like this, so the community from the canoe club have been very important to me. The club helped me to gain confidence initially on white water through kayaking, and I was then able to be involved and a part of the emerging white water SUP community at HPP.
“Meeting, paddling and learning from people like Barry and Beth has been massively influential in my progression, and I have come to know and be friends with many other paddlers at HPP. Everyone is welcoming to all comers, and no one judges you; everyone is just there to have a good time and help each other.
“I am looking to compete in some races next year, and I have started my coaching journey hoping to complete my white water SUP discipline-specific training in Wales in February. I plan to return to HPPCC to coach and support people to experience white water SUP and hopefully enjoy it as much as I do.”
Big thank you to Eddy for getting involved in this article and sharing his thoughts. Eddy is a talented paddler and will no doubt flourish as a coach as well. Good luck with your course Eddy!
How can you get involved?
A lot of my kayaking friends have asked me why I am spending so much time on a SUP. My answer is always that it is so much fun!
As Matt said in his article, everyone still has so much to work on in white water SUP. Everyone is learning, and there is no ego involved. I enjoy my SUP sessions as much as I do because of the great community I have access to here in Nottingham. In the warmer months, we will often have 10-15 SUP paddlers attend the evening sessions at HPP. You can imagine the SUP carnage that ensues with that many people! It is genuinely fun and a brilliant way to spend a few hours.
I have included a few links to groups for local areas and white water SUP coaches if you are interested in finding that community for yourself. As always – please do get in touch if you have any questions!
Links to the white water SUP community
Antony Ing – North Wales
Beth Kirby – Nottingham
Barry Hughes – Nottingham
Tom Westaway / Westaway Adventures – Dartmouth
Jess Philip / Dipper Paddle Boarding – Scotland
Matlock (UK) – Matlock Whitewater SUP
South Wales (UK) – South Wales Whitewater SUP
UK – White water SUP UK
Worldwide – Whitewater SUP,
I have only included groups and coaches that I know of personally. If you know of a UK-based white water-specific SUP coach or group that I should add to the list. Do add a comment to let me know!