Words: Verity Thomas (aka Vee Jay)
Pics: Dave Ferguson, Steve Walker, Matt Noel – Salty Lens Photography, Tim Axford – STAxford Productions, Cameron Aird and Supjunkie
We asked some paddlers who have one thing in common; they live and paddle in Jersey; for their views on Jersey Paddling, their favourite spot and any advice they could offer visitors. Here’s what they have to say…
Andrea Coulding, 54
I’ve been paddling since 2018. Sara (Prescott) took me out. I bought my first board, a 12’6 SIC race board soon after. My favourite place to paddle is St Brelades Bay, it’s beautiful. St Ouens is too busy. All the beaches in Jersey are beautiful to explore and I love the social element of paddling. I would say the best thing to do when paddling in Jersey for the first time is get some lessons. Check the wind, tides and swell.
Paddle inspiration: Fiona Quinn
Chloë Blampied, 40
My first SUP outing was on a sunset tour for a friend’s birthday, and I loved it straight away. It took about a year for my sister, VeeJay to convince me to have a go at racing. I use a ONE race board, which I try to ride in pretty much all conditions. There are so many amazing spots. I love Long Beach and Belcroute. I’m not too fond of St Brelades due to crowds and the number of boats on the water, in the summer. The best thing about paddling in Jersey is we have so many options for beaches and conditions. It offers a bit of everything to both beginners and experienced paddlers. My advice to visitors is to learn the local tides. The tidal range is huge and the flow, particularly on a big tide, is incredibly fast.
Paddling inspiration: Fiona Wylde.
Jane Davies, 25
I started lifesaving, and the beachside introduced me to prone paddling. I do SUP, but I prefer Prone. My favourite bay to paddle is Belcroute! St Brelades Bay mid-summer is hard with so many boats about. I love paddling in Jersey because there are so many spots to choose from; you can find somewhere, no matter what the wind direction is. It’s also a great way to get around our coast and see some beautiful spots. My advice to visiting paddlers would be speaking to someone experienced; there’s plenty of people who can give you good advice.
Paddling inspiration: I don’t have anyone famous; my inspiration for ocean sport is my dad who loved sailing!
Sara Prescott, 55
I was a kayaker then thought I would give SUP a go. Paddling in Jersey is beautiful. St Brelades Bay is my favourite spot, which can have a huge variety of conditions. There can be surf, downwind, flat water. There isn’t a place I don’t like to paddle in Jersey! I’ve even paddled with dolphins in St Brelades Bay. Jersey is just beautiful; there’s always somewhere to paddle in the worst of weather. It’s a beautiful island, and you can paddle from any of the bays. My advice: Go out there and enjoy!
Paddling inspiration: Local paddler, Andre le Geyt.
Laura Shorto, 36
I took up paddling because of my fiancé, Ben. I surfed before I met Ben, but quickly got the SUP bug and bought my own. My favourite place to paddle in St Ouens Bay, as 90% of what I do is SUP Surfing. St Ouens is the best place for a surf with loads of room and different peaks to choose from. If it’s a still, glassy day, it’s a beautiful bay to paddle to Rocco Tower with a snorkel and explore the marine life. It is so diverse with so many different bays that offer so many paddle experiences. You will always find a bay that is still for a quiet touring paddle, or a bay to surf if another is blown out.
Paddling inspiration: Jo Bennett (local paddler), she is a graceful SUP surfer, I love watching her, one day I hope to surf like her.
Laura Johnson (LJ)
I was never good at surfing, but SUP came naturally after two goes I was hooked! I love my SIC RS. It does everything! There are many places I like to paddle, but St Catherine’s to Gorey and back is my local area. Jersey is an exceptional place to paddle; there’s such varied coastline, excellent clear water, wildlife and every type of weather/sea state condition, sometimes all in one day! My advice would be, “Be safe.” Know where you can launch and get out if there is an issue. Wear and carry the appropriate safety equipment. It may look flat calm in the bay, but it can be a different story on the other side of the headland!
Paddling inspiration: Seychelle’s journey to world number one. Casper’s epic adventures. Anni, Tim, VeeJay, Chloe, they are the ones who encouraged me to get out on the water.
Stacy Benstead, 24
I wanted to explore our island, and my friend took me out! I was hooked from then! I mostly surf and my favourite board is the Fanatic Pro Wave 8’9. I love Greve de Lecq as the beach is beautiful and you can paddle around the coastline and explore the caves. My top place is St.Ouens Bay, where the surf is. All I have to say is, “Jersey’s just awesome!” Nowhere is too far away to venture, everywhere is so beautiful. I love paddling out with friends and watching the sunset. One thing that is great for visitors is that there are many different SUP options in Jersey so the island can cater to other SUP interests.
Paddling inspiration: Izzi Gomez – powerful, passionate woman!
Tania Le Couilliard, 41
I did a SUP lesson and fell in love with it. I first bought an iSUP then a race board and never looked back. My least favourite place to paddle in Jersey is the area at L’Etacq – it’s rocky! The main thing I love about paddling in Jersey is the variety of bays; whatever wind direction, you can find either flat water, bumps or surf; Whatever you fancy on that day. Another thing is the scenery. My advice to any paddlers would be to check the tides, and wind and wear a leash – always!
Paddling inspiration: Fiona Wylde.
Robin Allix, 27
I remember watching a Jersey paddle club race down at the harbour for the Jersey Boat Show five years ago. It looked like so much fun I wanted to get involved!
My favourite place to paddle is at St Catherine’s. The water is so fresh, and there is hardly ever anyone there! Otherwise, I would say St Brelades Bay, so I can grab a Chinese or pizza after! I don’t particularly appreciate paddling at Green Island. One thing about paddling in Jersey is you can get away from people. You get all conditions! I personally love messy storm conditions, but you can also get the flat, stunning summer days, downwinds, surf! Everything! It makes you a more rounded paddler!
Paddling inspiration: Steve Trott (aka Swishy)
Joanne Bennett, 46
I was hooked from the first time I tried it nine years ago. My surf friends, who were paddling and racing, encouraged me. I surf an 11-foot NSP Cocomat. I borrowed my favourite race board from a friend 12’6 full carbon Fanatic (thanks Sam Axford). I’ve retired from racing now, and it’s all about surfing. The whole coastline around Jersey is fantastic for paddling and training. It’s varied, challenging in places and the tidal pull is epic! For surfing it’s St Ouens – perfect sup waves. Belcroute in winter is a lot of fun. Any spot you paddle on a summer’s day you will bump into someone you know on the water. It’s epic for that community feel! There are many things I love about paddling in Jersey; the stunning coastline; community; friends. My advice is if it’s blowing offshore don’t go unless you’re experienced. You’ll end up in France! Show respect!
Paddling inspiration: Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny – true watermen! Locally – Andre Le Geyt. That guy is a machine!
Verity Thomas (aka Vee Jay)
After having my boy, Jacques, I wanted a way to lose the baby weight, so I took up SUP! I discovered racing, and that was me! The whole coast of Jersey is excellent and cannot choose a favourite place to paddle if I’m honest! We’ve beautiful beaches, and you get to see places from a different perspective. My advice would be, don’t go beyond your abilities and check the forecast. With the third largest tidal range in the world, we have strong currents outside the bays, so if unsure, don’t go!
Paddling inspiration: April Zilg. Legend shaper, Joe Bark. Locally, Andre Le Geyt.