Stand Up Paddleboarding in Torbay
Stand up paddleboarding? If you’d have asked us at the beginning of 2020 what, as a family, we’d most look forward to doing in the year to come, it would not have been that. In fact, SUP (stand up paddleboarding) wouldn’t have even been in our top twenty 2020 bucket list of things to enjoy.
2020, however, has not been your typical year.
SUP with Summer?
Let’s paddle back a few months. It’s lockdown.
Thanks to Covid-19, horizons the world over have shrunk or are shrinking.
Travel is severely restricted home and abroad. There are no social gatherings, no sports, no aircraft vapour trails chalked across the sky. Traffic is quiet. Roads are empty.
Even the gulls have shut up.
We’re fortunate enough to live by the coast in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK; Torbay or “The English Riviera” as it’s marketed. And that marketing works.
Every year, from March onward, water sports and tourism activities begin to increase to the point where, in June, July and August, hotels, holiday camps and beaches are crammed full of oily, sweaty screaming humans.
Not this year.
Quiet! Can’t you see they’re paddleboarding?
April and May passed by under strict lockdown. In Torbay, almost totally reliant on Tourism, no tourists were allowed. Very little outdoor activity was permitted. Only essential journeys were okay.
Torbay was quiet, empty, serene.
And just to rub it in,
the weather was SPECTACULAR!
Weeks and weeks of mild sunny weather for everybody to enjoy…not!
The lucky ones in lockdown were those with gardens. The luckier ones were those with gardens and swimming pools. The luckiest ones were those with gardens, swimming pools and a view.
There were so many unlucky ones.
We were fortunate enough to have a garden and a view. No swimming pool. Although we could see the largest swimming pool anyone could ever want just a mile or so away.
Tantalisingly close. Strictly forbidden.
The beautiful blue waters of Lyme Bay.
A view out over Lyme Bay from above Broadsands beach in Torbay
So, days passed and, as a family, we got less and less active and more and more stressed. Lockdown regulations eventually loosened slightly. More outdoor exercise was allowed. And then it happened.
An epiphany. A vision…
In the Shape of a Paddleboard
Out on the still water of the bay, a lone person stood.
They were standing still, yet gliding serenely across the glassy water. Slow, effortless, upright, relaxed.
This was no miracle. No second coming. It was still, however, a sight to behold. It was that rare sight.
The lesser-spotted experienced stand up paddleboarder.
From out of a blazing path of light they paddled
Later, we quickly came to realise how close to a miracle that unknown person made stand up paddleboarding look.
But that’s another story and a tale hopefully to be told in upcoming posts.
Anyway, “That looks interesting”, I thought. (To be honest in lockdown pretty much anything was beginning to look interesting).
However, aside from the grace, skill, ease and freedom of it, stand up paddleboarding looked SAFE.
I’ve yet to try, or take up, a sport that wasn’t a bad fit for my poorly conditioned physique. So I could guarantee it would be useful exercise but, more to the point, it looked like a pandemic-safe exercise. And that was important. Just the family. Alone. Out on the water. Having fun.
How to social distance at sea using your paddleboard paddle
Up Yours Two Metres
Obviously, we’d still have to take appropriate precautions. We’d need to consider things like water temperature, tides, wind and jellyfish etc., but I was willing to bet it was tonnes more interesting than looking for faces in patio slabs. In fact, all things considered, it looked promising…really promising.
Unfortunately, it still seemed a lot of work for one hour of permitted exercise a day, or whatever the limit was back then. Plus, how would you even go about getting a stand up paddleboard if you didn’t already have one? Most shops and non-essential businesses were closed. You couldn’t realistically hire or borrow one.
So, as attractive as it looked, stand up paddleboarding, like many other things under lockdown, got filed it in the memory banks under “Curiosities for Later Examination“.
If you’re anything like me, that’s a rather large, rarely revisited memory bank, so I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it.
June arrived and, mercifully, the powers-that-be loosened lockdown further, allowing more freedom of travel and more outdoor activity and exercise. As a family, we ventured out to check everything was still exactly as we left it. The local shop. The beach. The pub.
Yep, all still there and, what’s more, it looked like everybody in Torbay had had the same idea as us. So much so that, in some places, it was difficult to socially distance. Especially at the beach.
Throwing off the straitjacket of lockdown for many meant a trip to the seaside. And who could blame them? It also appeared that more than a few of them had the same paddleboarding epiphany as us.
Stand Up Paddleboarding Saves Summer (and our sanity)
On our first proper day out to the beach, there were stand up paddle boards everywhere.
Now I’ve researched it a little more, it shouldn’t have surprised me.
Stand up paddleboarding has been one of the fastest growing water sport in the UK , if not the world, for the last few years.
Company board meeting – 2020
If you live by the sea, a paddle board is practically a must. If you have kids, they’re fantastic family fun. They’re reasonably cheap, easy to transport and fairly simple to store. They’re also safe – provided you prepare, have the right paddleboarding gear, inflate them to the correct pressure and follow all of the recommended safety precautions.
So, what did it? What persuaded us, your average unfit, unwilling, unadventurous family, to splash out and then splash about in the wild and watery waters of beginner stand up paddleboarding.
Simple. We craved exercise (not really), we were desperate for fun in the fresh air(true) and we wanted to do it safely together, as a family (absolutely true).
So, Here We Are
Did you REALLY go stand up paddleboarding, Grandad?
That’s a few of us above. Inflatable stand up paddleboards at the ready, about to begin our journey into the wild and watery world of stand up paddleboarding. Poor suckers!
Some sports are not family-friendly. Many, at the moment, are definitely not pandemic friendly. And yet, for some reason, cramming yourself into an unflattering wetsuit and paddling out to sea on an inflatable ironing board is. So, we did it.
We took the plunge. (Literally. Many times!)
When the opportunity arose, we bought two paddleboards on the internet with all the accessories. Both paddleboards were inflatable. Both were well researched for our family needs. And both were from a local company Twobarefeet, to support the economy. In upcoming blogs, we’ll let you know how we got on.
Sometimes we might research first and then try. At other times we’ll probably try first and research later. Either way, it looks like there’s a lot to learn, plenty to practice and, hopefully, countless summers of fun to be had.
So, let’s get to it. While unlockdown lasts it’s time to grab our paddleboards and get paddle boarding. Or is it paddleboarding? Anyway, who cares?
See you out there!