It has been a while.

What can I say I have been rubbish getting on to the water of late.  I haven’t been on the board since September and I am feeling really upset by that.  Life has very much got in the way of late.  One thing after another has stopped me from getting out and getting a good dose of Vitamin Sea!!   This will change very soon, and I will hit the water and hit it hard, I want to get out on my stick and really make the most of the resources available to me where I live.  I live a stones through from one of the most sensational coastlines the UK has to offer and really really miss paddling out.  However, although I have not been out k the board does not mean I have not been exercising.  I am still swimming 3-4 times a week, swimming distances between 3 and 4 KM and also going to the gym.  I am keeping in reasonable shape but seem to have lost all drive and motivation for dieting.  Weight is maintaining and so is my size, so that’s not too bad, but I am constantly thinking How much I would have improved if the past few months had been different.  So what has kept me from the water?  Firstly, I stupidly badly sprained my ankle by falling of a kerb.  That was 6 weeks out of action.  Then Christmas and winter weather, constant work shifts on good days and a massive amount of overtime all stopped me from getting on the water.  Most recently I have, for the past 3 weeks, had a chest infection and been feeling very poorly.  

Hopefully that is all behind me now and I can get on with the matter in hand and get out on the water and more importantly get racing, which is why I bought the board I did.    Having said that I also have put my name forward yo join the Naismith N1SCO racing team.  This is a small group of paddlers that will be selected to make up a race team.  There are mandatory races and 3 other races of the paddlers choice to participate in over the summer.  I am hoping I am selected as this will give me some impetus to train harder and to get on the water with regularity, not that I need motivation as I really miss being on the water!!! 

This year is going be a big year for me and the water.  I am engaging with the Marine Conservation Society and acting as a Sea Champion, helping them with fundraising and organising beach cleans etc.  Lots f dead pinging around the old noodle with how best to promote the coastline and the importance of caring for our Sea environment.  So much to plan, to organise.  I am also swimming Bournemouth Pier to Pier again to raise funds for the British Heart Foundaton, more on that later.  But for now my mission is to get back on the water!!!! How to see you out there too. 

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/

It has been too long!

It really has been too long since my last post.  Unfortunately SUP has not been ossicle for me for the past month or so.  I am absolutely gutted by that.  Firstly, we got battered by several storm fronts.  High. Winds and a lot of rain made for some gnarly conditions for the moderately novice boarder.  I did not want to go out and get washed away.  There was a case of an experienced kayaker who misread the flow of storm run off and he was not found.  Really brings in sharp relief the fragile nature of life and how being on the water is a privilege that nature affords us, not a right of us to go messing about and my thoughts are with his family.  But, having said that the weather is improving, the seas and rivers are calming and Spring is retreating in the overwhelming force that will soon be summer and SUP will be back on the agenda! And I have a lot of time to make up.

I have not been idle in the lay off.  Indeed, my fitness programme has gone from strength to strength.  To the extent I really should rename this blog from ‘Fat man on a SUP’ to ‘not so fat man on a sup’.  Through the power of diet and exercise I have lost a whopping 4st 7lbs and for those that prefer metric that’s 28kg!  I still have another 2 st 7lbs ( 10.5 kg) to lose before I reach my target.  I have lost 8″ around my waist and the same from my chest.  I swim and gym 6 times a week and consume less than 1800kcal daily.  I am to be beach ready by July, because that is when I am ding a 1.4 mile sea swim for charity.  The British Heart Foundation have, for a few years, organised the swim from Bournemouth pier to Boscombe Pier in Dorset Uk, it is a worthy charity that raise funds for heart disease research and support to families affected by cardiac issues (I will put a link up to my Just Giving page at the end if anyone wishes to donate).  

I have been thinking recently, pondering who I am and the person I want to be.  I guess being on such a radical and total weight loss and attitude readjust has given me pause fir thought.  I am essentially trying to change who I am, or should I say who I was, not just mentally and in my attitude, but physically, through the weight loss I am trying to become someone I have never been, someone toned, trimmed, and generally pleasing to the eye.  It sounds strange to some of you that someone is that intent on changing essentially who they are, but I was not happy with how I looked, I was not happy with how it affected my relationship with an amazing women and how my children must perceive me. So, I had to change. I had to do something to make everyone around me happier. 

This radical change in attitude though comes with its own side issues.  These have only raised their heads in the past week. I had to go through my wardrobe and empty all the clothes that did not fit, not an issue had to be done, and it does give me a chance to get some new threads.  This itself has been eye opening, I know can go into shops like Fat Face, Crew or Animal and choose essentially what I want because I now fit in fashionable/designer clothing.  I must be honest, I am not much fir fashion, I have a look I like and am happy to be out with.  My issue is, and this is mad, I now think that I am getting clothes I like that I really should not be wearing.  I am 37 years old and I think I have entered into mid life crisis early.  Dressing to recapture my youth, or at least what I would have liked my youth to be if I had not listened to my parents and my friends (I use the term loosely as looking back they really were’nt).  But, I wonder if I now am doing things because I didn’t back when I had hair. Yes, I am balding which makes the look a bit ridiculous.  I have 2 children, twin boys and they are 2 and a half now, I wonder if I should be suited and booted and not wondering around in Hawaiian shirts and board shorts.  But that it makes me comfortable and happy. 

I feel that as a man I now have the power and authority that I lacked in my youth to voice opinions and to act on the complaints.  This is how my brain works at the moment and it is driving me nuts, my thought process is:  I was young and idealistic and no one listened to me because I was young.  I am in my twenties I am going to gain the knowledge and experience so that my voice can be heard.  I am in my 30’s and now those that need to listen won’t because they see me as old and passed it.  So, what is one to do?  Well, for a start, let’s start with the sea that I love so much…….stop putting plastic in it!  Microbe ads in cosmetics and scrubs drive me up the fucking wall!  Use sand it’s abrasive and natural and when it gets to the sea it just settles back to whence it came.  Stop the use of helium balloons, two reasons for this, helium is finite, we can’t make any more and when it’s gone it’s but also an inevitable side effect of helium balloons is that they float up, when they pop or go down they land wherever they land often in the sea and get stuck in the stomachs of all manner of Marine creatures.  And my final gripe today is a simple one, take your rubbish home or put it in the bin.  Doesn’t matter where you are, the park, the beach or in the middle of nowhere.  

Well that’s that rant over so I shall now update on SUP.  I bought a new paddle.  I had been using the bog standard alloy paddle that came with my board and now have upgraded to a glass fibre paddle, it is a Red Paddle Co Vario glass fibre 3 piece and it’s as light as a feather.  Unfortunately I have not tested it out yet as not had a chance to get on the water since purchasing it.  But will review it when I do.  What I can say is this, many of the literature say not to bother with an alloy paddle, to change it as soon as possible. I disagree, for this reason, learning to paddle and I am mostly self taught, having the extra weight in the paddle develops technique and power.  So, don’t be so quick to ditch the alloy, use it to ones advantage.  When you’re confident with it change it up.

I think that may be enough of a post for now, you are all caught up.  Once I get on. The water again I will update further, but fir now here is the link to my Just giving page, any and all donations are most welcome and even if you can give a little it will go a long way.   https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Peter-Lewis78

Body image

Some of you may be aware that I have been on a weight loss and diet since the beginning of the year and so far it is going great with almost 2 st lost.  I am absolutely chuffed that I have done so well, but realise that I need to do more to reach my target.  But, loosing the weight has caused me to rethink the idea of body image and how male obesity is viewed by people, by the media and by the public.  It was not uncommon for me to be verbally abused because of my weight, I joked in an earlier post that people commented on me messing about in  and on the water with the board that there was a beached whale etc.  It was partly a joke, but as with any joke it is based in truth and this is what has happened. Those comments occur and I have dealt with them my entire life.  I have had people call me names in the street, sneer, jeer and mock me because I am overweight.  For years I just excepted it as part of life.  But, I have come to realise that this sort of bullying, even by strangers, has greatly affected my actions and who I am.  I have a very low level of self confidence and an even lower opinion of myself, my worth is diametrically opposed to my weight…the bigger the weight the lower I value myself.  This has affected every relationship I have ever had. Whether I disbelieve the fact that someone could like even love me, whether the paranoia within the relationship that stems from myself is based on my own insecurity and it is all related to my weight.

So, I have entered into a radical regime of weight loss, but recently I have been noticing things that have angered me, most recently an advert on television for Amazon in which a bigger gentlemen is partaking in a Yoga class and one of the slender women is looking at him in a child’s pose and imagines pricking him with a meat thermometer, imaging him as a plump roast Chicken.  This advert is a perfect example of reverse body image.  If a woman did this to another woman in the advert it would have been pulled imediately, in fact would never have been made.  It appears that larger gentlemen have become the image of humour in television adverts from pole dancing builders to pieces of plump cooked meat the image of. A larger gentlemen is to be used to mock and laugh at.  

Which brings me nicely on to positive body image and the taboo subject that is the male form. One of the biggest neglected areas is the male image, men are subjected to. Great deal of pressure to look good, and they are generally not allowed to show weakness in the face of that pressure.  We are often pressured to look like David Beckham or have the perfect six pack and muscles and be slender and string etc.  Guess what, we can’t.  It takes a great deal of money and time to sculpt a figure that David would be happy with, and as a working father of two I can tell you I have seldom the time to spend 3 hours a day in the gym.  Having said that I am disgusted by myself that I am the size I am presently and I am changing that.  I am not sitting here saying this is me accept it, because I don’t.  We all have the capacity for change and to do something about it.  

Men though, have been conditioned to be tactful, especially when it comes to the female form.  We cannot any longer, admire the female form without being called a chauvinist or worse.  Yet, a women can comment on the male form with impunity.  Men don’t complain nor do they criticise or reprimand women for doing this. But I can tell you from bitter personal experience a that the effects of these types of conversation a an be damaging and cause harm that is not seen.  The inequality between acceptable behaviour is such that a man is under so much pressure to have a physique chisselled from stone and that is not a task that can easily be achieved.  I have tried, and continue to try to loose the fat, tone the muscles and to aka myself attractive to my better half who deserves the best version of me that I can give her.  My children deserve a healthy and fit father that can run around with them and do lots of fun things.  All these motivations are driving me to diet, exercise and get fit.  I will achieve my goals and hopefully surpass them.  But, I am battling a lifetime of abusive people who don’t understand what it is like to be obese, what it is like to battle weight issues.  Hopefully, this will change.
Now, on to a more positive note and back to the subject of this blog…I had a great SUP the other Sunday.  I went to my usual river spot and pumped up and paddled for an hour.  I was pressured on time to take the family out so I went at 08:30 in the morning at high tide and greatly enjoyed myself! It was grey, gloomy but the river was calm and was good.

  

2nd week, 2nd paddle

I said last week that I was a planning a paddle around Keyhaven.  Well, unfortunately I bottled it.  The reason is that I was not confident enough to try to paddle around the bay as, after reading the charts and local advice felt it was slightly risky given the time of year and temperature, if I get stuck or get it wrong it is a very cold way to spend the day. So I decided to alter my plans and I went to. The slightly more protected and safer option of Mudeford Quay, in between Christchurch and Highcliffe.  It is a fascinating little place that is a large sheltered bay behibd Hengistbury head and the Solent.  For the most part it is no more thN  a feet deep even at high tide, it has some deep channels of a few metres and a also houses a treacherous channel loving called ‘The Run’.  Essentially the Run is to be avoided at all times. The whole force of the tide is squeezed through a deep channel about 10 m across.  The force of that outlet to the open sea is akin to the worst Rip tide you will ever see and if your caught in it you won’t be seen until you reach the Isle of Wight. Fortunately though the bay is about 4.5 miles around the edge so plenty of room to paddle without vanishing off into the Solent.

I read the tide well and arrived 40 mins before high tide and they was plenty of Water I. Which to paddle, and I was not the only one.  I bumped into another boarder just starting  out.  The other paddler was slot more experienced than I so I let him toddle off before I ventured of the water, essentially so I could see where he went and if there was any issues on the water.  A very chilly wind was whipping around chopping up the water which made it challenging to paddle, also made it a bit cold.  But, wrapped in neoprene I barely felt the wind so was happy to crack on.  I hit the water and was immediately surprised by the strength of the wind and the effect it had on paddling, to get out into the bay I had to travel into the wind. It was hard going and my feet were getting a bit chilly. About 500 m out into the bay my feet went numb.  I was wearing neoprene shoes but it was very cold. I endured and went further into the bay, the sun was glorious but the wind was high making a challenging SUP.  I went further and missed the signs for the shallows as they were submerged, and ran aground and fell in. Whoops! It was a chilly dip and wasn’t my only one.  I have so much to learn about this sport.  
Inclement weather means that I cannot get out for at least a week so I am in the pool every other day!
  

New Year, New Regime!

It has been some time since I have posted a blog.  In fact I have only blogged once before about my exploits on the water.  I have had A couple of health issues recently that I am under investigation for but when we heralded in the new year I heralded in a new me!  I let myself go a bit, put on a to of weight and also became a bit lethargic.  So a radical weight loss programme that includes a great deal more exercise. Part of the regiment is to get the board out every week, whatever the weather, and have a paddle for at least a couple of hours.  I have done so at my usual paddle spot in Christchurch, Dorset and it has been one of the oust dramatic, changeable and challenging paddles I have done.

I am still very much a novice and have so uch to learn, but the good news is I am getting to know my board and how it reacts I different types of water.  On Tuesday last week I caught a break in the weather and a forecast of light winds and lovely winter sun.  Signs were good, tide was on the turn and I pumped up and got on the water. What I had not accounted for was rain water run off.  The amount of rainfall we have had o the south coast has not been as severe as the poor folks in the North of England, not by a long shot, but the increase in volume of the Stour made low tide like high tide and the speed of the water was quite remarkable.  I tried to paddle up stream, but after 15 mins and getting about 500 metres I finally turned the board around and headed out to the bay behind Hengistbury Head.  It could not have been different, once away from the river mouth the water changed from a torrent of run off to a mirrored glass, it was perfectly still, no wind at all and the clouds and sun were perfectly reflected in the water.  Sometimes I can be philosophical and floating in such a perfect place of peace and tranquility brings in to sharp relief what is happening in ones life and in ones own world.  People often speak of getting back to nature and to realise that they are just a small speck in the world at large.  I did feel insignificant, just another of natures creatures enjoying some time alone.  Lost in ones thoughts. Relaxed I decided to return home.

The return journey was not pleasant, nature decided to show me that for every peaceful Monet one enjoys there is a stressful one just around the corner.  The tide should have been I o the turn and I should have had a relatively straight forward paddle through the river out hand back to the slipway. Yeah….right!  The rain run off into the river no the increase in water volume meant that a very strong current was still flowing against the tide making the approach in to Christchurch choppy and like paddling through treacle.  I battled hard against the torrent but it was exhausting, it was incredible the war of the water, just a little bit and how much it would effect the board and the paddler.  I had to get to the side of the river and beach just to get my breath back.  It was so difficult my inexperience showed in reading the river and underestimating my ability, especially after a month and a half lay off.  I waited about 5 minutes by the side of the river watching as the flotsam and jetsom whipped by out towards the sea. I tried not to get panicked and tried to find a route that I could walk the board back but there was too much in the way, reed beds and deep water.  I examined the river closely and saw that the reed bed on the opposite side of the river had a greatly reduced flow so I pointed the board across the river and tried to mount the board.  

Top tip: point the board into the current paddle across and angle the board slightly a let the current take you across.  Do not do what I did and point the board 90 degrees to the river bank into a strong flow and have it flip over.  I got a bit wet, but thankfully was wearing a winter wetsuit and didn’t get too cold. 

I managed to get myself back to the river bank and pointed the board into the flow and got to the other side. The water flow was greatly reduced and I made my way up river towards Christchurch.  Getting the last 200 metres was hard with the strong flow, but exhausted and 140 minutes after I set out I was back at the slipway and to my car.  I packed up the board and went home.  Once I had washed the board off, rinsed the wetsuit and got a cup of Tea (never underestimate the awesome restorative power of a good hot cup of Tea), I sat and reflected on the close call. It really was a near miss and a very valuable lesson to learn.  

Lessons learned: always be mindful of what the water is doing. Never assume what the river is doing as it might just do the opposite.  Never overestimate your ability, you could end up looking like a prick, and that could be the best case scenario.  The worst is you get into some serious life threatening situations beyond your ability to get out off.  I was a tyke bit scared and I have definitely learned my lesson.  But, I am not discouraged, I will just be a bit more mindful of the conditions and take greater care.  

So, what’s next well, the tide times are favourable to attempt a new SUP.  Keyhaven to Hurst castle, a paddle that demands a high tide as there are a lot of shallows and sand islands.  But, Hurst Point and the castle is a fantastic place, a true bastion of history and a delightful day out. It seeps history and catalogues the advancing warfare through the ages from the age of sail to steam, to modern naval power whilst also standing like a beacon of the importance the UK put in commanding and defending the oceans. I have, many times, walked the mile long shingle bank to the castle and I really want to take the board and approach from the water.  That is the plan for this week to come.  

  
Mayors Mead slipway, Christchurch, Dorset, UK.