Interview: Sarah Thornely
Photos: Sarah Thornely, Matt Mario, Paddy Dowling
Sarah Thornely of SupJunkie has a chinwag with David Walker, a keen Stand up paddleboarder who together with Lewis Smith developed Paddle Logger in 2014. I spoke with David recently to find out more about his SUP journey.
Hi David – can you tell us what Stand up paddleboarding means to you personally?
What a question… it’s similar to one I love asking actually. The idea of why we paddle. There has been a whole heap of research done into why the ocean and water resonates with us as humans, let alone paddlers.
For me there is nothing else out there like it – equally I find it tremendously difficult to put it into words. There is a moment the first time you step on a board where it just clicks. It is hard to explain to people who have never done it, but when you stand up, make the first few strokes and you are away. That feeling is great, suddenly you are seeing the water from a whole other perspective.
In a more tangible sense, the ocean offers so much, you can paddle at the same spot 50 times and not two sessions will be identical – I love that. A change in wind for example completely changes the challenges you have to deal with and the experience you can have. SUP gives me this ability to challenge myself in an ever-changing environment, however the session has been, you can’t help but not have a smile on your face.
Paddle Logger very much started as an App for SUP – can you tell us the major benefit for paddleboarding when it was first developed?
Yeah 100%, I tell the story a lot and I won’t bore you again with all the detail but the idea for Paddle Logger came at a time (2014) when tracking apps had popularity amongst the land-based sports. However, there was nothing out there for me, a paddler. I wanted something I could use, that was designed for the problems I had to face.
Paddling in the UK, it is simple things, like a big button for cold wet hands, having a delay so you could safely stow your device away from the water. Not having to interact with your phone on the water – so minimising any complex buttons or intricate design was key. All of this was in our first version released in 2015, a simple tracker for SUP. As it turned out, a whole heap of others also had these problems and Paddle Logger solved it for them.
It has certainly been interesting to see how some of the ideas and concepts we brought to the mobile Health and Fitness tracking sector have been taken on by the ‘larger’ multi-sport apps. Maybe it’s coincidence but I like to think not, imitation is a great form of flattery, right?
In the last few years, we have been innovating again in developing powerful features that still put the paddler first. One button, not only tracks your journey, but it connects you to others instantly with PaddleLIVE (something we have been working on for two years and launched last year under the name Paddler in Trouble), it allows you to enter events, share your journeys and more!
Where do you see Paddle Logger going in the future?
We are going to continue developing our service, we have a distinct feature set we want to implement by the end of the year. Due to Covid-19 we have had to juggle some things, moving the Race features up and bumping some other stuff like some of the third party integrations (but they are coming, please bear with us!) What you can be sure of is a continued drive from Lewis and I to pack more epic features into an easy to use package that means you get to concentrate on paddling!
PaddleLIVE is a service that gets paddlers thinking about safety. Yes, it’s a great service that will keep you connected, but hopefully it starts engaging paddlers with thinking about what other appropriate measures should be taken. PaddleLIVE is just one layer in a multi-tiered approach that is appropriate for the type of paddling you will be doing.
We want to enable paddlers to become better. We learn when we safely execute and replicate skills at the edge of our comfort zone or just beyond – this is called the learning zone. If we can get more of our paddlers operating there, we are winning.
Who would you like to see using Paddle Logger and why?
We see Paddle Logger being used by all as part of their gear to get out on the water and have an awesome time. Paddlers at different levels and in different disciplines will find slightly different use cases.
The racers we know will be attached to their Garmins, Speedcoaches, etc. We don’t want to change that if the paddler is used to and comfortable with their set up. We see PaddleLIVE being a service for them that they set up and leave which sits alongside their race tracking allowing loved ones to keep an eye on them if out training. Or especially at the moment when entering virtual events with socially distanced paddles.
It is a similar story for the adventurers. However, we would also add that our logbook system is a great way to make memories and compile all your trips with notes and photos. We have seen so many epic multi-way adventures completed with Paddle Logger or where Paddle Logger has been a significant training aid.
We feel everyone should be taking a device on the water as a form of communication should you get into difficulty. Paddle Logger and PaddleLIVE make that easy, but our other tracking features are great for novices and weekend warriors who want to see how far they have been and share their sessions. It is important to note that Paddle Logger shares with any social media really easily – so we are not only making our paddle friends jealous but all our non-paddle friends too! Especially when those summer paddle picture opportunities come round!
You have mentioned virtual racing a few times, can you tell us more?
Absolutely, for years we have been asked can we run Strava style events, or can we run online competitions. With building Paddle Logger, we have never really had the opportunity but this year with Covid-19 we started to re-visit the idea and ultimately rather than build events, decided to focus our resources on providing a service for the paddlers.
We want our paddlers to easily enter any virtual event, pushing themselves in a safe and responsible manner.
Our race features are designed for those who use Paddle Logger to easily compete a set distance race and export the race distance .GPX file for upload. Alongside this, PaddleLIVE is working away, keeping your loved ones informed on your location for the duration of your total session as well as your race portion. Those who rely on GPS specific hardware will also be able look to PaddleLIVE to run alongside their session.
Paddle Monster and SUP Racer have joined forces and developed an exciting new international event called the Virtual Paddle League, a series of races that kicked off as a way to get back to competing as lockdowns were lifted. With our new functions it was a natural fit to become the Official Paddlesports Tracker of the Virtual Paddle League.
If you look around with just a cursory search online there are heaps of virtual SUP and other paddle events either underway or about to start. So, if you are missing competition, we would so recommend entering one! Especially considering how easy it now is to do with Paddle Logger!
What do you feel are the positives to come out of recent events David?
It has been awesome to see how our paddle community has come together, we would love to see you using Paddle Logger and joining our online community, the Paddle Logger Paddle Club. A place where we all share journeys and stories – plus if you are a lone wolf paddler, it gives you a club identity to race under in events! So do check out what we have to offer! I am proud of the way the SUP community has responded to COVID-19!
David – what is your Lockdown dream paddling location?
There is an island in Central America on a lagoon in the middle of the jungle…
Paddle Logger is not just for SUP – please check the May 2020 issue of The Paddler Magazine (https://paddlerezine.com/easy-tracking-with-paddle-logger) to find out more.
Thanks once again David for your time – stay safe and happy paddling!