Sticking my oar in… again
Fancy getting on the water but can't be arsed learning to sail or surf? Give paddle boarding a go.
Paddle boarding has reached cult status – you’re going nowhere these days unless you get there standing on an inflatable board using a paddle to propel yourself through the water.
The sport was developed by surfers in Hawaii, but it’s been making waves with celebs, thanks to Jennifer Aniston, Rhianna, Cindy Crawford and a naked Orlando Bloom flashing his oar in Italy. That cheeky pic sent Twitter into total meltdown. But what started out string bikini Insta snap and a smug celeb hashtag is trickling down to us regular folk.
It turns out you don’t have to a sun-kissed stick to get stuck in. In fact, Berkshire’s slow-moving lakes, rivers and canals are much better for a gentle bit of boarding than the less predictable swell of the Pacific. Who needs the dazzling beaches of the Med or Miami when your have Bray Lake anyway? It’s beautiful, even on a gloomy day and SUP specialists Bray Lake Watersports, which hosts not only paddle boarding classes but Paddle boarding races can get you started.
I went along with my sister-in-law Bev for a SUP Start 2-hour lesson. An instructor (Candice was the lucky lady trying teach us) takes you through the basics to get you on the water. Although I spent a lot of time in it.
The idea is that after your 2 hours you’ll be able to stand up, turn, paddle safely and do it with confidence. You’re then issued with a ‘Read To Ride’ BSUPA certificate, a Bray Lake paddle license and an hour’s free hire all for a bargainous £49.
Standing up and paddling wasn’t the problem… turning, on the the hand, was.
Every time I tried to swing a right or a left, this Weeble wobbled and went down with an almighty splash. Getting back on was quite the spectacle not helped by uncontrollable laughter.
What I lacked in balance, I like think I made up for in enthusiasm. I absolutely loved it. It’s something I’m going to do with the family and the girls. I’ve not laughed so much since I lost my dignity at an inflatable aqua park. Don’t be put off by the string bikini wearing celebs – they’re one step away from a serious wardrobe malfunction. Stick to the wetsuit, grab you squad and give paddle boarding go.
If you want to see what it’s all about check out the pros taking part in the SUP Championships Sat 30 Sept from 11am until the last man standing.
On Sun 22 Oct, go along to the famous Bray Lake Barbecue – dip your toe in with a taster sesh +demos and fun race, too. Tickets are £10 from the cafe.
Bray Lake Watersports, Monkey Island Lane, Bray, Maidenhead SL6 2EB braylake.com