Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Pierce Brosnan and Sting: for the past decade, the ubiquitous summer paparazzi shot has featured these and other toned and tanned celebrities drifting serenely on turquoise waters of the Caribbean, Hawaii or California.
Inspired by my famous peers (admittedly I’m always late to the party) and keen to catch the last of the Indian summer sun - I headed down last weekend to the south coast for a beginners’ paddleboard lesson in, er, Shoreham.
The calm and surprisingly clear waters of the River Adur was where my fellow SUP (stand up paddle boarding) newbies and I met Frazer, our instructor and guide for the next two hours. After a quick change into wetsuits (even though the water is at its highest temperature in early autumn it’s still ‘fresh’) we picked up our boards and headed straight to the water, no doing drills on land looking 'a bit daft’.
Tuition began with the essential ‘how to get back on the board after falling in’ technique, then we went through the basics – the paddle hold, strokes, stance and balance. Paddle boards are about half the size again of a surfboard and so remarkably stable. We headed into the middle of the river, all kneeling, then gradually adopting a crouch before standing up.
Drifting in our little crocodile, we made a passable impression of the serene celebs – using the correct paddling technique felt effortless and so relaxing, though we were all surprised to break into a sweat - maybe it was the heat of the sun on our wetsuits.
The two hours passed quickly but it also felt as though we’d been on the water all day – such a tonic. And if I thought that it was a one-day wonder, well, apparently not. According to Frazer, SUPers take to the water throughout the year, even the beginners, who range in age from seven to 70 and I can see the appeal of SUPing on a sunny winter's afternoon over a session in the gym...if I don't fall in!
We finished our day with a team photo (and genuine grins), then a sundowner on the beach, the perfect ending!
A two-hour beginners’ session costs £45 including board, paddle and wetsuit hire. After successful completion you receive a ‘BSUPA’ Level 1 Ready to Ride card which means you can paddle independently across the UK.
Will I be picking up my paddle again? Absolutely! SUP is good for the mind (after a rather stressful week I was able to leave my worries on land) and the muscles - my thigh muscles were aching for a few days afterwards, which I took as a good sign! This year Shoreham, next year St Tropez!
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