The salt life with Mark Salter
Interview: By SUPM and taken from June 2019 with added 2021 questions
Photos: Ollio Moss, Dave Fuller Photography, Sarah Thornely of Supjunkie and Mark Salter
What’s it like to get involved with SUP and then hear the call of racing? We caught up with Mark Salter to find out more about him and the appeal of smashing the miles.
Tell us when and how you discovered SUP…
A few years ago, I went on a date with a lady who told me she was about to head off to Florida to become a yoga teacher. A year later on Facebook I saw that she had started a SUP club in Nottingham. There weren’t many clubs around and I’d never heard of it. It looked fantastic though so I went for a lesson. That very same year, that lady became my wife and we’ve been paddling together ever since. She’s my race coach now too!
I used to be a keen skier. It was the only thing that got me away from the stresses of life and business. I get that same sense of freedom and endorphins from paddleboarding, plus paddling is very much more accessible and affordable. We take our boards everywhere we go.
How did you get into racing?
In all sports, I’ve always wanted to be the fastest – so when I first saw a photo of racy looking Naish N1sco inflatable online, I loved the design and wanted to try one. N1sco has a category at all GBSUP Series races so in 2018 I took it along to my first race, The Battle of the Thames. I was by myself that day so it was a little overwhelming to see the top racers on their narrow carbon boards but I did OK – my goal was to complete the distance and try not to fall off in front of anyone!
Any other type of paddling?
I’ve never paddled anything else. My only experience on water was some windsurfing as a teenager. I got swept out to sea when I was in the West Indies. I swallowed a fair amount of water and had to be rescued. I didn’t really like being on the sea after that.
Where do you normally paddle and who with?
I paddle with #TeamSUP on the River Trent and on the local canals and lakes in Nottingham. The only thing we don’t have close by to the Midlands is the sea so we take our boards on holidays with us. We paddle everywhere though.
Any specific training regimes you go through?
I’ve had compression of the spine for around 15 years and I have arthritis in my shoulders from years of kickboxing, so my training plans are of low impact and they allow the body to rest and rebuild between sessions. Here’s my plan:
- Paddling four times a week, which comprises of a 10-12K timed paddle, a 5K timed paddle, HITT sprint paddling and a skills session.
- Weekends – endurance paddling between 25K to 50K.
- Weights 2 -3 times a week – which I have to do or I lose a lot of weight just paddling.
- Cross training twice a week – step machine is my favourite as it’s good for leg strength as well as cardio,
- and 2-3 hours of yoga per week, which I really should do more of before and after paddling!
Where’s your dream SUP destination and why?
Cassie (my wife) is a keen adventurer, she plans our Club’s (www.supfitness.co.uk) adventures and challenges. We’ve been fortunate to paddle in amazing countries already. Remote islands in Cambodia, Corsica, Greece, France, Slovenia and Ibiza.
The St Petersburg area of Florida is our favourite for winter; paddling with the manatees, dolphins, turtles, jumping fish and exotic birds in the flat warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Having said all that, some of the most beautiful paddles that we’ve done are in Britain. My wife and I paddled coast-to-coast Scotland and it felt like we were the only people there for two whole days. It was challenging yet magical across the windy monster that is Loch Ness.
The Lake District is beautiful for paddling and again it’s beautifully quiet in winter. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales is the world’s highest as it’s right on our doorstep. Just last week we paddled under Durdle Door with our SUP friends in Dorset.
My favourite may well be Cornwall though. We just went there for the SUP Series Celtic Cup event. With huge clean beaches and surf; there was even a little blue shark that joined in the race with us.
What motivates you to paddle?
The adrenalin of competing. I visualise winning and put a high expectation on myself. I can barely hold a conversation with anyone before a race as I’m so wound up – but it’s just the excitement of racing and really, I love the whole experience.
I do also love adventuring and exploring new destinations with my wife and with friends though – that balance is important to keep paddling being fun and not just about training.
What are the advantages of being a SIC SUP team member?
Being a SIC SUP Team Rider is an honour. I believe that the boards are the best in the world and riding them in a privilege. Being part of their team means that I get to hear about new equipment in development and have the chance to get them as soon as they’re available. I feel very proud to ride their boards. It’s lovely being part of a team of good people.
How do you think this may improve moving forwards?
Carbons are fantastic but they’re fragile. I’ve had two broken this year already. One from a recent swan attack. The bird smashed big holes in the bow with it’s wings. I wish they were more durable.
What, if any, are your plans for 2021?
2021 for me and our team in Nottingham is all about endurance paddling. I’ve entered the 11 Cities 220km Non-Stop race, which will entail around 30 hours of paddling through Friesland in September. A lot of training is needed to stay alert and injury free for that long on what is well known to be an exposed windy course. It’s probably the toughest event in the SUP world, needing something like 80,000 paddle strokes without sleep.
So most of this year is taken up with training for this epic adventure. I certainly hope to compete in some mid-distance racing with GBSup Series and also the EuroTour along the way but I’m learning, that you really need to focus on 1 discipline and make that your focus for the year. Whilst real-life racing is on hold at the moment, we also have numerous virtual events to keep us going. I’ve entered a couple of these and am finding that they’re a good gauge of where my strengths are versus others. It certainly helps to know your strengths so you can focus on choosing the right races when we’re back to normal life. Soon I hope!!
Any final thoughts on SUP?
I’ve only positive things to say – from the health benefitting, stress relieving, scenic adventures that I’ve been fortunate enough to partake in, to the thrill of racing, it’s just the perfect way to spend free time. Paddle Boarding brings people together – The friendships that we’ve made; we never would have met such a wonderful and kind set of people without Paddle Boarding. We’re blessed.
Thanks and praise?
I’d very much like to thank and appreciate the organisers for the events. The GBSUP Series events in particular are outstanding and for all of us that race, we’re having the time of our lives. Please keep doing what you do for many years to come.
Praise also to my wife Cassie Salter who dedicates every single day to growing the sport. She’s a superb coach and positive influence on many people’s lives. She’s built an awesome community in Nottingham. It’s a massive friendship group who support and cheer-on at the races. It’s amazing to hear that when you’re on the water. It really keeps you going.
Catch up with Mark on Instagram @UKsupracer