Behind the brand: Get On The Water’s Gareth Stevenson

Interview: SUPM
Pics: Get On The Water
Article from August 2020

For the August 2020 Behind the Brand feature we talked to Gareth Stevenson from Get On The Water UK. We found out more about the Welsh based SUP Co. who not only provide multi-activity tuition they also deal with JOBE SUP and Blackfish Paddles.

Tell us about your history – how did the company come about?
We’ve been passionate and active in different watersports for over 30 years – swimming, surfing, windsurfing, wakeboard and SUP. We managed to get planning for a full size wakeboard cable park in Cardiff and we were approached by some brands to stock their equipment at the site. Unfortunately, the cable park didn’t come about – but we continued our relationship with the brands and started selling on line. We now work with over 50 of the industry leading brands.

Got any fond memories of your time stand up paddling so far?
Too many to list! We paddled a multi-day journey along the Canal-De-Midi in France from Toulouse to the Mediterranean. We’ve stayed on a converted mine sweeper in the Norwegian fjords and SUP’d each day out in to the fjords from the boat. We’ve paddled a lot of the Ibiza coast, raced on rivers in Portugal, raced in the gruelling Indian Arm 32km challenge in Canada and had plenty of great SUP adventures here in the Wales and the UK. We’ve also taught hundreds of people of all ages to SUP – and it’s great to see people having so much fun and progressing quickly with SUP.

How did working with JOBE and Blackfish come about?
Jobe were the first company to contact us for the wakepark. We then started working with the full watersports range and frequently travel out to Jobe HQ to make sure we have all the information and knowledge to make us Jobe specialists.

Blackfish Paddles were suggested to me by a good friend and we started paddling with their carbon SUP paddles. We liked them so much we signed up to be their UK and European distributors. Blackfish are based in Canada and the paddles are produced in our own factory in Thailand. We’ve been out to Canada and have a great relationship with the team at Blackfish.

What’s been key to your success within SUP?
We are passionate about SUP. We are all SUP coaches with Water Skills Academy and we paddle in many different disciplines: adventure, race, wave and downwind. We make sure we know our products inside out and try and make sure that the customer is well informed and is buying the correct equipment for their activity.

We also run SUP Cardiff which is a social SUP club for all abilities of SUP paddlers to meet other paddlers and get on the water every week.

In terms of change, how’s the sport moved on? Is it easier to sell SUP gear nowadays? And how has COVID impacted the business?
The technology used to build the boards has changed from single to double to heat bonded technology. This has resulted in great quality boards and equipment. There are now more people in SUP and a lot of them are spreading out into the different SUP disciplines, which is great too. This has resulted in more sales of boards and equipment across the full range as opposed to just people new to the sport. COVID was a worry for us, we didn’t know how it would affect everyone’s freedom to move around and access the water. Once lockdown eased, the UK went SUP crazy and we have had a very busy season so far. We are still waiting to start teaching again as the centre we use in Cardiff is still closed – but we hope we’ll get a chance soon to welcome more people to SUP.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2020 – global health issues allowing? Which areas will you focus on the most?
We are now working with a SUP race group in Cardiff and it will be great to train with the guys there. We are now working with SIC and are out testing their boards, so we can’t wait to get more downwinding and surfing this summer, and having a go at foiling. Once we are able we will start teaching again and welcoming SUP paddlers to our social sessions in Cardiff Bay.

Tell us about how you’re developing Get On The Water moving forwards.
Get On The Water stock equipment for SUP, surfing, wakeboarding, watersking, kayaking and boating. We are coaches with Water Skills Academy, British Waterski and Wakeboard and the RYA. We are aiming to continue developing Get On The Water to provide equipment for everyone who want to ‘Get On The Water’ and to be able to offer coaching and instruction in all of our exciting sports and activities.

Any final thoughts on SUP, JOBE or Blackfish Paddles
We look forward to seeing SUP develop further in the UK and Europe and to be a part of it. Jobe continue to build and supply great SUP equipment and we are very excited to now also be working with SIC and the team. Blackfish are producing high quality carbon paddles for all disciplines of SUP and we love paddling them!

Shouts and thanks?
We’ve had a great time meeting so many great people in SUP as well as other watersports and have been inspired and helped throughout – we’d like to thank everyone we have met and especially our customers who have helped us build Get On The Water to where we are today. We look forward to meeting friends and colleagues, new and old and sharing time with you all on the water.

Big thanks to Water Skills Academy for all the training and guidance and to all the brands who have supported us.

Huge thanks to our advertisers

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