SUPport: verb

By Sarah Thornely (Supjunkie)

Sarah Thornely

To give encouragement to someone because you want him or her to succeed

Having recently verbalised the support I have from my husband Antony whilst trying to juggle four Instagram accounts, two Facebook, my work for GBSUP and UKN1SCO, running Supjunkie, sharing news for the SUP community, trying to get on the water as much as possible AND spend time with my family, it made me wonder how other paddleboarders managed. We all have different lives, challenges, families or not – it’s a big ask to be able to get out there to train or just paddle socially. 

Naturally, husbands, wives and partners were high on the list of supporters, and the shout outs for them were enormous. We all love different sports, and you may not be lucky enough for your significant other to enjoy SUP as much as you do so being considerate of each other is paramount. Antony loves road cycling (I know, I know – lycra-clad nonsense!) and we CAN generally manage to be independent in our activities, I grab the van and shoot off to the coast whilst he cycles locally or comes with me and cycles home. I have grown-up children, am retired (well I thought I was!), so we manage pretty well and count ourselves as incredibly lucky. 

I genuinely admire other families who have small children and full-time jobs. I guess that’s where early starts and excellent time management comes in. I have often seen SUPM editor Tez at the coast in the early hours testing kit – he doesn’t hang around – gets the job done and then back home to his young family and work. 
Some couples paddle together literally!  Allistair Swinsco and Alison Rennie paddleboard a tandem SUP – now that is one smart way to keep paddling and adventuring together! Great teamwork! 

Others are complete singletons and train and paddle alone (I used to be one of those too!) In the words of Claire White, “I have to motivate myself daily, and sometimes it’s hard always to feel motivated to get out on the water, or if you are having a bad mental health day, to force yourself out when you know it will help you!” One thing that was clear though was that when these paddlers got to an event, be it racing or otherwise, our lovely SUP community fully supported them! From Jade Rogers, “That’s why it’s awesome that the paddling community is so friendly and welcoming – showing up to the first season of events alone and knowing no-one was a bit daunting. Glad I did it tho.”

So, who else apart from family? For me, it’s been my club, the very club I have paddled with since I started. They taught me to paddle; they advised me what kit to buy, they provide me with some of the best adventure paddling and fun trips,, encouraged me to keep going through the winter, supported me when I was the only one racing and are just generally a fantastic bunch of people! So, I do have to mention them don’t I – thank you Brian Johncey and

The Real Blue Chip SUPer Club!   
There are some fantastic clubs around the country so let’s give a mention to the ones whose names continually cropped up! Northern SUP Race Team, Central SUP and Team SUP featuring one of the best supporters of her team in the country, Cassie Salter – if you haven’t seen Cassie on the start and finish line of a race then you need too – verbal and musical instrument support and huge hugs all round! Check out the GBSUP National Series website for your local club. 

We all have them, and sometimes they paddle or don’t – sometimes you can encourage them to join you and sometimes not!  Rest assured you will make new ones at your club or events across the country and being like-minded and fond of the water; they will last a lifetime! I have two distinct sets of friends – those who do and those who don’t, and it doesn’t make them any less of a friend, just different. 

I have met some incredible friends through SUP, and they too have given me a tremendous amount of support for which I am incredibly grateful. Two ‘old guards’ of SUP, Martin Barlow and Karl Hobbs are great buddies and have tremendous mutual respect. Karl, “But it would be very bad if I didn’t mention my fellow ‘coffin dodger’ Martin who I have raced, trained, travelled and at times been led astray by.” And from Martin, “Of course the support, team spirit and humour offered by Karl helps motivate and encourage me to complete long-distance events. My times on the podium with Karl are evidence of this support.” If ever you have seen these guys paddle together, you will know what they are talking about! 

This year we have all experienced different times, and the online and worldwide community has been much more relevant. Training online, support from great coaches, watching inspiring webinars from those ‘who know’ has I guess supported us all in one way or another. I’m hoping that this doesn’t stop because if and when we are ever ‘back to normal’ there is nothing more inspiring on a grey day when you are stuck indoors to watch others on the water doing their thing, be they Kai Lenny or Ben Pye! There’s some great stuff out there. 

Last but not least, all the volunteers around the country who support every association, event, challenge, race and club and all those that positively promote the wonderful sport of SUP.  Thank you for being awesome 😊

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