A while back I received my first Yes Man challenge to go Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) on the Thames. So the other weekend Will and I headed off to SUP the Thames.

We awoke to a beautifully sunny and surprising warm February day in London. Will and I met Paul, Louise, Simon and Bob at Kew bridge at 11am for a day of SUP. Paul is one half of Active360, who are promoting SUP in London. The water was warm, and with the sun shining it promised to dry us quickly on the off-chance we fell in. It was a truly stunning day.

Getting ready didn’t take long. We were given life jackets, a board and a paddle and then it was straight onto the Thames. First up we were instructed to get onto our knees and paddle for a while to get used to the board and develop a little confidence. The board moves around with the change in weight. It feels like its going to tip quite often but it’s surprisingly stable. Of course a lower centre of gravity helps. Unfortunately being tall isn’t an advantage here but Paul advised to bend the knees and go lower to keep balance. Dropping back to your knees helps stability and saved me a couple of times. Initially your legs feel like jelly, but this is mostly due to nerves and fear of falling in. According to Paul if you just assume you are going into the water you’ll do better. With growing confidence you begin to strengthen your legs and use your core stomach muscles to maintain balance while paddling. Strokes involve moving forward with knees bent and straightening as you complete the stroke. Wash and waves from other vessels proved to be both Will’s and my downfall (excuse the pun). The waves return the board to its unstable ways and then panic sets in and it’s a battle to keep upright. After a couple of attempts negotiating the waves it gets easy and confidence grows. Heading into the waves helps too.

I was first to fall. I was getting a little too confident and was chatting to Paul when I was hit by waves. In an attempt to save myself from getting fully soaked I tried to jump onto Paul’s board, to save myself in the panic. Shamefully I only resulted in sending us both into the river. What made it worse, was that we were in such shallow water I could have stepped off my board and only been in water up to my thighs. Not long after Will went in as well. He was in a deeper part of the river so he went right under much to the amusement of the rest of us. We stopped at the Hammersmith Bridge for a drink and a chat. The sun was out and there were loads of people on the side of the river having a pint, enjoying the view. However I’d have to say we had the best view of all from the river. The return trip was great fun as our confidence was high and the going fairly smooth. We even managed to stop and take a few photo’s along the way.

It was a wonderful way to experience London from a different perspective. And just goes to show how much outdoor fun and adventure London has to offer. It was a great way to spend the a day out. As a coach Paul was very patient and always had a smile on his face, even after I tackled him into the Thames. If you fancy trying SUP contact Paul at www.active360.co.uk. I’ll be going out with Active360 again.

Paul and a team of fellow adventurers are heading off on a Arctic SUP trip to paddle around the coast of Greenland in June. You can see their plans on the following website: www.fluidfocus.co.uk/SUP

So my first Yes Man Challenge is complete. I survived, we all had great fun, and we even got our picture in The Times. As promised I made a video of the day out. Enjoy.

Bring on the next Yes Man Challenge!!

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