2016 has been a memorable year, I've enjoyed the company of so many amazing people, laughed so much and not just at people 'failing' challenges, and I've been privileged to share the waters with seals, sea birds, shoals of fish and occasionally dolphins. I've generally enjoyed getting away from the crowds, sharing the wonderment and soaking up the sights and sounds of idyllic Cornwall.
One of my favourite things is to see is people truly loving the experience of paddleboarding, chuffed that they are able to stand and enjoying this new sensation and vantage point. I am thrilled when I get messages from people who are seeking out more SUP opportunities local to them or are buying a their own kit.
The new family SUP fun sessions have gone down brilliantly, children can definitely teach us a thing or two about having fun. They learn so quickly and simply embrace falling in, they make up games and squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of their time on (and in) the water.
The SUP in a Bag spin-off Club was also new in 2016, with regular evening and weekdays, as well as the occasional weekend explores for the committed few. There are some more serious SUP Clubs around but ours uniquely offers social, recreational paddles, a chance to share the experience of exploring Cornwall, where a pint and post paddle debrief is all part of the experience. Last year we used 14 different launch sites, spotted dolphins, hung out with seals, sat on beautiful beaches, ate cheesy chips and had a good old chit chat .
Enjoying the varied wildlife is such a privilege, as I learn more and about the sea birds they become more fascinating. The Grey Seals are considered rare worldwide, so how lucky is it not just to have them pop up next to you, but for them to take an interest in us or for them to casually swim by just a couple of meters away. I am proud to work with the Cornwall Seal Group, reporting sightings as part of their mapping and identification research, all working towards better understanding and conservation of these friendly, inquisitive and beautiful animals.
With the wildlife in mind I've become a keen advocate of reducing plastic pollution and am part of the #2minutebeachclean movement. There are so many achievable positive actions each of us can make in our own lives. If everyone who visited the beach picked up just a handful of litter what a difference it would make.
As a dog lover, I've really enjoyed turning some 4 legged friends into SUP dogs. Some are more natural than others SUP Dog Gallery
Facebook and Twitter have helped us to spread the word of SUP, it's a great way to stay in touch. We've received some amazing reviews on Trip Advisor and Facebook and I get such touching feedback thank you, I know that SUP in a Bag is delivering memorable experiences.
Highlights of 2016
It's hard to narrow it down but here are some of my favourites:-
A young seal on Carrick Roads popped up behind me and grabbed a piece of the trailing leash. Moments later it popped up behind my fellow paddler and threatened to do the same.
On one of the SUP Club Sunset Paddles the tide was taking us back (to the Heron Inn) so quickly that we stopped and sat on our boards. As the sky was pinking up, the water became more and more glassy with stunning reflections, but most notable was the noise of the birds busy in the last moments of light.
Sunset on the Fal
On the Gannel I was paddling with a family and as we headed towards the beach, the light was astounding, cutting through the crystal clear emerald waters, dappling on the sandy bottom. Literally breathtaking.
Crystal Clear waters of the Gannel, Crantock
On a paddle on the Camel estuary I laughed so much my cheeks ached (you know who you are!), but there was a moment of serenity when we stopped on a beautiful sandy beach for a sweet treat and swim. The bluest of blue water.
It's not always about standing up
It's always nice to get a group photo and I've realised just how challenging it is to get paddlers in to one spot, all facing the same way at the same time. In one Family Session the very wet group T'd up beautifully and then a small bump (no one to blame), and the Dad was in. Not the shot I'd intended but memorable nonetheless.
Another successful group shot
There are just a handful of basic 'styles' of falling in. In November on another very funny Tour, to top off the hilarity, one of my fellow SUPers managed at least 3 differing styles, saving himself, losing it, repeat, with many wails and hoots before eventually falling in.
Difficult to stop there, I didn't even mention dolphins.
Thank you to all my fellow SUP'ers for making 2016 such a special one.
Looking to the Future
2017 is starting to shape up beautifully, there's a New Year Competition: a chance to win a Tour for 2 by signing up to the new Newsletter, delivery of the 2017 Red Paddle Co boards, a camp and SUP weekend planned, some demo days in the pipeline, litter picks and many more Paddleboard adventures to share.
There's lots of ways of finding out more about SUP in a Bag, staying in touch or sharing in the adventures and we are always up for helping people to get on the water in Cornwall. Sign up to the e-Newsletter below, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or Contact us.