SUP: Stand Up Paddleboarding

Words: Belinda Dixon; Images: Nicola Hendy

“Time and tide wait for no man.” Or woman. Or StandUpPaddleboarder, it seems 😉

You remember it – that Friday of the Easter holidays; the one day when the sun surely did shine. It took us (me & Nicola Hendy) to Mylor Yacht Harbour, near Falmouth in Cornwall. For a first try of some SUPs. Hang on – SUPs? Ok – yes, if you’re anywhere near coasts and rivers you’ll see them – broad, wide, stable boards. Always with a chilled person on top. Standing Up and Paddling (obvs).

supmylormarinaOur plan was to launch at Mylor, work around to Falmouth then flow back with the tide. Here we should say that your Seeking pair, though no experts, are used to tides. Between us we kayak, surf, sea-swim, canoe, bodyboard and sail. So we know a bit about tides; about rips and neaps and springs – and just how hard it can be to work against them (more later, on this).


DCIM100GOPROG0110430.After easing the SUPs from their backpacks and inflating them (see the image gallery, below)we launched into sun-speckled, sheltered Mylor Harbour. A few wobbles later (remember: we are new to SUP) and we’re beyond the yachts and heading down stream. It is glorious. Utterly glorious.



But it eventually dawns on us that by now the tide is definitely heading up stream; we’d hit the water a good 90 minutes later than planned. And – crucially – a strong headwind has whipped up. That, we knew, is all it takes. From going with the flow to fighting hard against it. Sometimes, in life and in adventures, you just have to change course.


DCIM100GOPROGOPR0483.So – no hardship – it was back with the flow :-) An effortless cruise past spits of land, green fields, pontoons and bobbing yachts. With a wide horizon, a glinting river and broad boards beneath our feet. Feeling stronger and more secure with every stroke. Feeling that – yes  – standing up on one of these things is perfectly natural. And is actually a very good way to be.
Eventually it was landing and a short stroll and burgers by the shore. In the sun, with aching limbs but happy smiles.

So what did we learn? That if you don’t stray from your comfort zone you’re not being adventurous enough. That changing plans mid-stream isn’t a bad thing; it just brings something new. That what you “know” might be different from what you think you know. That we’re totally hooked on SUP and can’t wait to get out there again.

And that everyone is curious about inflatable SUPs (evidence the 20 questions just as we pumped them up).

So in case you’re curious, we’ve made a photo guide. The super-cool boards we used are made by Red Paddle Co – here’s how it all works …

Mylor Yacht Harbour was wonderfully welcoming. It has one of several public slipways into the waterways around the immense Falmouth harbour.

StandupPaddleboarding is a cracking sport. See the BSUPA for an overview.

Country-wide, activity providers offer training – we’ve benefited from tuition at Discovery Surf School in Devon, and Vertical Blue in Cornwall.

As ever, take the sea seriously, even if a sport looks easy – the RNLI has some crucial SUP safety advice.

So have fun as you SUP. See you out there. As we ride – next time – with both wind and tide …

Read more at Seeking Adventure

Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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