The sight of Stand Up Paddle Boarders across Sussex beaches and on local waterways is ever growing. Local Paddle Board School, TJ Boardhire tells us why they think popularity of this sport is rising.
Why do you think paddle boarding has become so popular?
Paddle boarding is an activity that can be enjoyed by most people, regardless of age and experience. With the right equipment, such as wetsuits, the right board, boots, paddles, buoyancy aids etc, it’s an activity that can be enjoyed by all of the family.
It’s a sport that has many dimensions. From the tranquil conditions of local canals, to flowing rivers and the sea, there is something to keep everyone involved. With SUP (Stand Up Paddle) racing becoming more and more popular and SUP surfing for the more adrenaline fuelled members, it really is a sport that can be accessed by everyone.
There is also a growing community within the SUP world bringing people together. TJBoardhire run Chichester SUP Club which is based on the Chichester Canal and has a range of members with all levels of ability, from those who have just experienced their first lesson, to those who come along on their carbon race boards. This is a fantastic community of people, who are able to share their experiences with one another, as well as getting advice about kit, great places where to paddle and more. We have weekly paddles to the Richmond pub along the Canal, as well as weekly race/ progression sessions throughout the summer, SUP safety sessions, SUP clinics and regular trips on local rivers.
What should someone expect from their first session?
After getting kitted up, our two-hour beginner sessions include a thorough briefing prior to getting on the water, important safety considerations are outlined, how to stand up and turn your board, as well as paddle technique. Once on the water, our expert instructors will support you through the process of standing up and perfecting your paddle stroke. At TJBoardhire, we adapt our sessions to meet the specific needs of our customers. Therefore, if people want a session focussed on progression and technique, then that is what we will do. However, for family groups, once everyone has the basics, we will include some fun games and activities to keep everyone engaged. We have a huge range of equipment, as well as a Mega SUP which is great fun for group activities such as hen and stag groups, large birthday groups and corporate sessions. We provide everything that our customers need including all equipment, rash tops, wetsuits, boots and buoyancy aids, so all you need to bring is a towel and a sense of humour.
What’s your favourite location in/around Chichester for paddle boarding?
Our venue on the Chichester Canal is perfect for people to learn and progress quickly. The calm, sheltered conditions provide the ideal location for people to learn new skills without the worry of waves, wind and too many other water users. Along with expert tuition, this venue results in people becoming much more confident and progressing more quickly. The venue is very peaceful and pretty and the Chichester Canal Trust has a team of volunteers who work very hard to keep the canal maintained to a high standard. There is a huge amount of wildlife to be seen including the resident heron, cormorant and kingfishers, whilst you relax and enjoy a new sport.
We also run regular trips on the River Arun, which provide a good introduction to moving water and are a great way for people to further develop their skills and confidence within a safe group environment. Group sessions at this location always feature the obligatory stop off at the White Hart pub at Stopham.
Is Autumn/Winter a good time for paddle boarding?
Autumn is a brilliant time for paddle boarding and the darker evenings are a great opportunity to bring out the head torches for our social paddles to the pub. Our club members are becoming more adventurous and now have a variety of different board and paddle lighting systems, which is quite a sight on the Chichester Canal on the darker evenings. In October we run our Halloween paddle, where our members dress up and paddle to the canal basin for hot drinks and cake, with the best dressed receiving a prize and of course in December there is the Santa SUP which is also an opportunity for club members to dress up and get out and paddle.
The local rivers are a great way to get outside and keep paddling throughout the colder months. However, one of the biggest considerations when paddling in Autumn and Winter is to get your clothing right. Even the most competent paddlers will fall in on occasions, so dressing for the water temperature has to be the most important safety consideration. If you are going out on a river trip during the colder months, there are a number of additional safety precautions that need to be considered and are something that we cover in our SUP safety sessions.
Most importantly Autumn and Winter are when we see the best surf along the South Coast, so a good winter wetsuit, boots and gloves will allow you to carry on the sport well into the colder months and to make the most of our local beaches.
TJ Boardhire offers a huge range of equipment to suit everyone, including child specific boards, paddles, wetsuits, boots and buoyancy aids. For more information visit their website