Lots of paddle time 

It is long time overdue I gave an update on events and what’s been happening in my little paddle world.  I have managed to get out and get some great sessions done, lots of long distance stuff and lots of water time, which is a joy.  I have also been hard at training for the Bournemouth Pier to Pier and the journey towards that event has wielded some great results regarding weight loss.  So much to say I don’t know where to begin?

I gues if I start at the weight loss… I have now lost 5 st 7 lbs and in the best shape of my life so far, I am not content with that yet, I have a long way to go and have hit a wall regarding my diet.  I put it down to the incredible amount of exercise that I am attempting to do, I am swimming for 70 minutes 3 times a week and covering a distance of 2.5 km, I am also going to the gym for 2 hours 3 times a week and burning roughly 900 kcal each session.  This massive increase in activity has done wonders for my general well being, my blood pressure is way done as is my resting heart rate. My body is going through significant changes and I am getting a great deal of definition and something that I have previously never had.  I am happier in myself, calmer, healthier and generally well.  But, I am getting frustrated that for the past 3. Weeks my weight loss has stalled despite what I do to change up the diet or what I eat.  I have ramped up the exercise and kept up with the swimming.  I am now 3 weeks away from the big swim and it is very daunting.  A new friend, someone I met recently on the paddleboard trail, is an old hand at charity events and physical challenges told me the other day that to ‘approach any event with a sense of trepidation is a good thing.’  And I can see his point, approaching the big day, and it is coming up quickly, carefully and with a sense of dread keeps me from pushing too hard, my instinct is to train hard, and as the event gets closer to train harder.  But, part of me is holding back in case I get injured.  And that is my concern, a lot of people have sponsored me and I have raised a significant sum so far, I don’t want to let them down. So, gingerly I train, careful I improve and hopefully will make it through In one piece.

So what’s next?  Once the vent I have trained for for the past 6 months is complete what do I do then, and this has also played on my mind. I have a had a few too many thoughts on this subject and what I would like to do is get in on the emerging Paddleboard race scene.  Living as I do a 10 minute drive from Bournemouth beach I am ideally situated to get in on an emerging race scene.  There is some discussion as to what size board should be used and that is confusing me, guaranteed I will fork out for a race board and it will be the wrong size!  The debate is between 14′ and 12′ 6″boards.  My instinct is to go with a 12’6″, why?  Because a 12’6″ gives more people the opportunity to participate, they are smaller, more manoeuvrable and easier to handle in a turn.  Many races have buoy turns and to successfully mange that on a 14′ you have to complete a very tricky and advanced kick turn which involves raising the nose of the board by standing over the back fin and balancing whilst turning at speed.  Whereas the smaller board is an turn easier on a cross bow turn or hard paddle turn.  I have to say that until this week I have never attempted a kick turn and the thought was daunting, but after some exceptional instruction from http://www.thenewforestpaddlesportcompany.co.uk/ I gave it a go and although I got a bit wet was getting the hang of it and definitely have the confidence to give it a go. I also tested a race board with them.  I tested the Starboard 12’6″ Astro Racer inflatable and absolutely fell in love with it.  It was sublime board, it cut the water like a fish, it responded beautifully and was very responsive.  It opened its arms and said ‘trust me, paddle a bit harder, paddle a bit faster I won’t drop you in the water’, a reaction my current board does not have, my current board has an anti rider repellent on it, as soon as you get on it wants to throw you off. The Starboard encouraged a faster paddle. And as I shortened and quickened my stroke the nose started to rise from the water and my word did it go!  I vowed that that would be my board of choice.  Only problem is that to buy one I need £1090 and I can’t justify spending that kind of money right now.  Hopefully It won’t be long before I do get one, lots of saving to be done, maybe selling some bits on eBay but I do have to get that board.  The only way I can describe it is going from an Aston Martin to a Ford Fiesta.

Riding a board like that really illuminates the faults in my current board. Faults I had hitherto not known about.  I had thought that my board was not bad and any problems in manoeuvrability to stability were down to the rider.  But the instructor who showed me kick turns had a go on my board and could not believed that I was able to do half the things that I have been doing on it.  The flex in the board was astounding when watching someone else ride it, it wobbles around like a nothing I have seen before.  Rigidity is nothing it bounces up and down more than a trampoline.  Handling and tracking are just abysmal.  This is a hard lesson and one I didn’t realise I needed to learn.  When I bought the board I found an online company that offered boards cheaply and claiming a good quality board.  I went, looked and purchased the board without ever getting it on the water.  I did not try any other boards because they were out of my price range and I was desperate to take up this sport that I fell in love with.  So I bought the board and had many many misadventures in falling in before I got the balance and knack of using the board.  The lesson is try before you buy and don’t rush into any decision.  Also, cheap does not mean good, in fact when it comes to something you are relying on to keep you. Out of the water and safe the lower the quality the more at risk you put yourself in.  All things I did not know.  When I bought the board I knew relatively little about paddleboarding but I did know a lot about the water.  As I Kew nothing about the sport, what I wanted to do in the future and much about board design and construction, I ended up throwing £400 away on a board, that I have had fun and learnt lots, but ultimately ended up being shit.  Well, lesson learnt! The hard way!

Paddleboarding is a way of life , it’s a community and there is a comraderie between riders.  A friendly hello to those you pass or pass you on the river or sea or wherever you SUP.  In that spirit I have joined some very friendly chaps on a regular outings.  I paddle with the owner of a SUP specific brand of clothing called Hutch SUP wear and they offer some fantastic clothing at a reasonable price.  They are also a good laugh and good company.  We often paddle first thing in the morning heading out at 7 am and that has made paddling very pleasant for me as before I as lays went out solo.  I have explored new places done many new things on a board and advanced how I paddle.  Check out the range of clothing at http://www.hutchsupwear.com.

So, that is where I am at.  Paddling a lemon wanting to paddle a race.  Hopefully, that Starboard will be mine soon and I can train hard for the BaySup frostbite series in the winter and enter Head of the Dart and Battle of the Thames next year.  I also have grand plans for some long distance endurance SUP’s in aid charity and as I get more planned I will update.  So I hope lots of you are out on the water and staying safe doing so.    Oh and here is the link to the board I tested. http://star-board-sup.com/2016/boards/12-6-x-28-inflatable-racer/