Top 20 paddleboard/SUP events for 2024

Is 2024 the year you tackle a new paddleboard challenge? If so, we’ve got you covered, and below you'll find some of the best SUP challenges around the country for the year ahead.

Whether you’re looking to dip your toe into events and try your first race, or you’ve already tackled your first race, survived, and now you want to push yourself this year, we’ve identified some events you might be interested in. And if you’re an experienced racer simply looking to organise your year ahead, we’ve got you’re back too.

Whatever your ambitions for the year ahead, we’ve picked 20 events we think you might be interested in. From those perfect for newbies, to ultra endurance events for the more seasoned pro, the UK has an awesome race event scene, and something for everyone. Get stuck in, and be sure to put August 18 on your calendar for the main event, of course…

We host Race 2 in the Thames Valley Winter Series

20 January 2024
Thames Valley Winter Series
The perfect start to the year. Starting in Oxford on January 20, then moving to Henley with us on Saturday February 3 (or another venue if the river is still out of bounds), then finishing on Sunday 10 March at Bray Lake, this is a cracking way to get your year started as you build up to some of the year’s bigger events. Each race has a category for leisure paddlers too, so you can ease yourself into racing in a fun and supportive environment.
Book Oxford
Book Henley
Book Bray

The UK Gla Gla at the Shack

10 February 2024
UK Gla Gla (click name to book)
You can choose from a 7.5k leisure distance, or a 15k race, at a stunning venue in Surrey. Held at the Shac, it looks like a movie set and boasts a fun atmosphere with events for new and experienced paddlers alike. In homage to the real Gal Gal, which is held in Lake Annoy in France. 

 

 

Team Saltwater

 

24 February 2024
Saltwater Technical event (click name to book)
Join the Saltwater team for a fun technical race. You can choose between a 3km or a 6km course at their Chalkwell Beach location. 

Unique challenges at the Hurley Classic

TBC March 2024
Hurley Classic (click name to book)
This is a truly unique event, and right on our doorstep. The SUP Safari and Rough Waters events include a bit of everything, and will test your paddling ability in ways you can’t imagine. Races with a twist, you’ll need to tackle a series of challenges and obstacles on the water, on land, and finishing with a bit of whitewater action. Too much fun…

The GB SUP Series heads around the country

31 March - 5 October 2024
The GB SUP Series  (click name to book)
This is the pinnacle of racing in this country and the events get under way at Bewl Water in the first of six events. The full provisional calendar is as follows…
Bewl Water – 31 March
Cardiff Bay Open – 5 May
Baysup Battle of the Bay – 8 June
Falmouth Bay Open – 29/30 June
Beadnell Belter – 8 September
Southampton SUP Club – 5 October

SUP 12 is a cracking endurance event held in Torbay

13 April 2024
SUP 12 (click name to book)
The ultimate endurance event. Held in Torquay and taking place from from 7am to 7pm, who’ll be the last paddler standing? Awesome test of mind and body, with a hugely supportive crew around you.

Head of the Dart is one of the best events of the year

20 April 2024
Head of the Dart (click name to book)
This is a popular one. Starting at Totnes and finishing in Dartmouth, you can choose between a range of categories, inflatable or hard board. A stunning route, and one of the best events of the year. It’s a cracking way to really dip your toe into SUP racing if you’re new to it, but also a brilliant challenge for those more experienced racers too.

40km race downstream to Newark Castle

Saturday 27 April 2024
Race to the Castle! (click name to book)
A new endurance event consisting of 40km downriver paddling through the lush, rolling countryside of The Trent Valley, to Newark Castle. Hey, it’s got a castle, and it’s with the flow of the river, what’s not to like?

The ever popular Paddle Skedaddle

11 May 2024
Paddle Skedaddle (click name to book)
This is another popular one. A cheeky little 26.5km paddle from point to point in Norfolk. Likely to be fully booked, but worth it if you’ve made the cut!

SUP fest 24

24-27 May 2024
SUPFest, Lake District (click name to book)
This event is all about SUP, family, friends, relaxing, camping, live music, adventure presentations and of course SUP races, games and competitions. Something for everyone, and in a stunning setting.

Racing at Oxford

22 June 2024
Midsummer SUP Marathon (click name to book)
A yet to be revealed distance event on Oxford’s reservoir from Oxford SUP club. This is the first marathon event run by Oxford, so expect a well run event with a friendly vibe, but a decent competitive edge!

Burghfield Sailing Club - an awesome venue

TBC June/July 2024
Burghfield adult/junior race events
We’re back at Burghfield for a second year, and hopefully less wind! Following last year’s ‘Joker’ event, this year will be slightly different. Put together a team of four, and include a range of boards, and tackle our new relay event! Also, we’ll once again be running a junior race event, one of few in the area.

The Norfolk Broads Ultra

6 July 2024
Norfolk Broads Ultra (click name to book)
Back after its postponement in 2023, you can tackle a 78k course along the stunning Norfolk Broads. Not for the fainthearted, this sees some of the best racers go toe to toe. Complete it in one day or over two.

The Trent 100 has it all

18-21 July 2024
The Trent100 (click name to book)
Another of the most popular and inclusive events of the year, you can paddle 100k of the river Trent as a team. It’s a fun team event with glamping, live music and usually a bit of fancy dress at the end to celebrate. 

The Summer Showdown takes place in Henley

Sunday 18 August 2024
The GWTF Summer Showdown (click name to book)
We’re back for year 3 of our biggest event of the year. Choose from a 6k or 9k route along the River Thames in Henley. Camp by the riverside the night before, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Henley Rewind Festival while you’re at it.

TBC August 2024
The Big Dipper SUP race (click name to book)
This event is held in Whitely Bay and combines with the North Sea Weekender festival, which welcomes paddleboarders of all abilities. Live music, street food stalls and a bar, we’ve not been, but it sounds awesome.

Circumnavigate Hayling Island

7-8 September 2024
The Round Hayling Challenge  (click name to book)
This does exactly what it says on the tin… tackle one of two courses which circumnavigate Hayling Island. Organised by Hayling Sailing Club, you can either go all the way round, or do the shorter challenge, which is more suited to those less experienced. Brilliant fun, and really challenging, but suitable for most paddlers.

Paddle then run, as fast as you can!

TBC September 2024
Dinton Supathlon (click name to book)
The Dinton Supathlon is a brilliant event for those new to SUP or running. Organised by Barnes Fitness, it’s a 1km paddle followed by a 5km run, and caters for all levels and abilities. A brilliant fun and friendly event.

The Great Glen is as stunning as it is brutal

20-21 September 2024
The Great Glen Challenge (click name to book)
Not for the feint hearted… paddle the 92k of Scotland’s Great Glen! This really is a challenge against all the elements the Scottish Weather can throw at you. Attempt to cover the distance in one day, or do it over two. This is a proper bucket lister…

SUP The Creek

26-27 October, 2024
SUP The Creek (click name to book)
Choose from a technical event on day 1, or one of three distances on day 2. Whatever you choose, you’ll get to explore and enjoy the beautiful Kingsbridge/Salcombe Estuary in south Devon.


8 best apps for paddle boarding

One of the attractions of paddle boarding for many is being able to switch off from the world. No technology, and no distractions, other than the natural surroundings around us. However, your phone can be a very useful tool when you’re ‘on board’, and not just for taking Insta selfies. Here are our favourite and most-used apps… 

Paddle Logger
https://paddlelogger.com
Designed and created by paddle boarders, for paddle boarders, you can use Paddle Logger to track your paddle sessions, view and share your adventures with others, set up distances for race training, and stay connected with loved ones in case you get into difficulty. This last feature is really good; you can set up an alert which, if you don’t check in after a certain amount of amount, contacts them immediately. If you have an Apple watch, you can also track your health gains too. Free, with in-app purchases.

Strava
https://www.strava.com
Yep, your running app now tracks SUP sessions too. Record your sessions for distance and speed, compare to others in your locality, and even compete against others in designated ‘segments’. One segment example is the Hennerton Backwater; start at the Henley end to the Wargrave Marina, you , you can compare your time against others.

GeoSUP
https://www.geosup.com
Record your paddle sessions including your top speed, average speed and speed breakdown, and rank yourselves against other paddlers. You can also get live weather data including wind direction and speed. GPS tracking will follow your exact location whether or not you have phone signal. Create a bucket list of your most-wanted paddles and connect with other paddlers.


Paddle Monster

www.paddlemonster.com
Join an active SUP racing community and gain access to customised training videos as well as strength and conditioning training from world-class paddlers and coaches Larry Cain, Seychelle and Travis Grant. Membership stars at $10 a month, and for $60 a month you get personalised analysis, plus you can post your workouts and photos alongside such SUP stars as Connor Baxter. 


Wind Compass

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/wind-compass/id662297095
BBC Weather and Met Office are great starters for planning your paddles, but Wind Compass gives you accurate weather data based on your actual location, not the nearest weather station. You can track conditions at multiple points on the river, and even monitor it on an hourly basis. It shows you wind direction, wind speed, temperature, sunrise/sunset etc.


Go Paddling

https://gopaddling.info
A great feature here is paddlePoints, a free-to-join service that enables you to find new routes (including where to park etc) and store your own favourites. See routes others have followed and set up markers to denote the best and worst bits about each paddle. You can also find out the relevant licence requirement info for each paddle point.

What Three Words
https://what3words.com/gardon.hangar.enserrer
What Three Words have basically divided the world into 3m squares and given each one a unique combination of three words, and these addresses are as accurate as GPS coordinates. If you get into a spot of bother, or lost, you can share your location to get help.

RiverApp
https://www.riverapp.net/en
Want to know the river conditions before you head out? The Environmental Agency website is a good starting point, and  it uses a yellow/red warning system to denote high levels. RiverApp has 1,186 UK rivers and tells you not only how high the water is, but how fast the flow is too. Everything you need to decide whether or not the river you want to paddle is safe to use.

 

 


The best SUP wear for paddleboarding this winter

Someone far wiser than me once said: “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

That’s not strictly true when it comes to paddleboarding, of course, yet those of you who put your paddleboards away for winter are missing out on some of the most rewarding paddles of the year.

Quiet – and boat-free – waterways, stunning colours… winter paddling can be an amazing experience. It can also be the perfect way to stay fit through the colder months, and a cracking antidote to the short days and dark nights.

So, if you love paddleboarding but your board usually gets put away for hibernation, or you’re simply looking for some new layer inspiration, then read on.

Below, you’ll find a selection of our tips, plus suggestions from those who work/play within the SUP industry.

Many people are quick to turn to the trusty wetsuit, but that's not always your best option. They work by trapping air between the material and the skin to keep you warm when wet, which means you can overheat if you stay dry. They can restrict your movement too. A drysuit offers ultimate protection if you want to to paddle when it's freezing, while we tend to use a long John, and work up with base layers depending on the conditions.

Also, a buoyancy aid gives you another free later of warmth. So, if you usually use a Spinlock PFD or similar, consider a buoyancy aid for an extra hug of warmth!

 

The essentials: boots/socks

Boots are essential, and there are three things you need to know:

1. Thickness is key. A 3mm boot won’t cut it when the temperature really drops, so opt for 5mm-7mm boots in winter, and go for a high-cut for greater protection.
2. Ease of use. Some boots are hard to get on/off. I find those with a zip up the side are much easier.
3. It’s worth checking the fit. If you size up, you can wear some socks (neoprene or merino wool) for double the protection.

GWTF boot recommendations
– Speed Grip High-Cut Boot
https://www.vaikobi.com/collections/neoprene-boots-reef-boots-footwear/products/vaikobi-high-cut-boot

– Rooster All-Purpose boot
https://www.roostersailing.com/collections/men-accessories-and-equipment-boots-and-socks/products/106529

Other boot recommendations
– Rip Curl 5mm Flashbomb
https://www.ripcurl.eu/en/mens/wetsuits/accessories/flashbomb-5mm-round-toe-boots.html

– ION Plasma 6/5 boots
https://www.thesupco.com/wetsuits-c6/neoprene-footwear-c170/ion-plasma-boots-6-5-rt-2021-p1346

GWTF sock recommendations

– Palm Kick 3mm socks
https://palmequipmenteurope.com/gb/socks/123-kick-socks

– Vaikobi VCold neoprene socks
https://www.vaikobi.com/collections/neoprene-boots-reef-boots-footwear/products/vcold-2mm-neoprene-socks

– Sealskinz angle sock
https://www.sealskinz.com/products/waterproof-warm-weather-ankle-length-sock-with-hydrostop

Essentials: SUP long johns/bottoms

Sup bottoms come in varying thicknesses. 1.5mm leggings are fine through the transitional months, but you’ll likely need thicker neoprene when winter hits.

GWTF recommendations

WINTER Vaikobi Flex Force 3.00mm Long John
https://gowith-theflo.co.uk/product/flexforce-3-0mm-longjohn/

WINTER Palm Neoflex leggings
https://palmequipmenteurope.com/gb/neoflex/98-564-neoflex-leggings#/21-colour-jet_grey/34-size-s

TRANSITIONAL Vaikobi Flex Pant
https://gowith-theflo.co.uk/product/vaikobi-v-cold-flex-pant-unisex/

Other SUP bottom recommendations

TRANSITIONAL ProLimit SUP Neo Pants
https://www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk/prolimit-womens-1mm-airmax-neoprene-sup-trousers-black-pink-84740-p-23793.html

TRANSITIONAL Vaikobi Activ HydroFleece leggings
https://www.vaikobi.com/collections/women-uv-pants/products/vaikobi-performance-fleece-leggings-black

Drysuit

A drysuit is a full proof way to extend the season, but they’re expensive. You'll see many instructors turn to these in winter, but personally I feel these are more suited to kayaking and kitesurfing, or gnarlier conditions. However, if you want complete protection, you’ll have one of these for life. Make sure you get a snug fit... a loose-fitting drysuit can be a hindrance if it fills with water.

Supskin Winter Touring Paddle Suit
https://www.supskin.com/collections/womens-paddle-suits/products/ultimate-womens-winter-touring-paddle-suit

ProLimit Nordic SUP Drysuit
https://www.prolimit.com/product/nordic-sup-drysuit-pure-girl/

Base layers

With a long John or neoprene bottoms, you'll need multiple layers for your upper body, and build up according to the conditions. You’re after water-repellent properties with the ability to wick sweat, and for us there's a clear winner here, Vaikobi's HydroFlex is the king of under layers.

GWTF recommendations

Vaikobi HydroFlex top
https://gowith-theflo.co.uk/product/vcold-hydroflex-top/

 

Top Layers


North Coast's wetsuit top can complete your neoprene cover, while Rooster's fleeced cag is perfect for when it's really cold. From there, the other layers are useful for the transitional months.

GWTF recommendations

WINTER Rooster Unisex Fleeced cag
https://www.roostersailing.com/collections/men-waterwear-tech-tops/products/105303

WINTER North Coast Wetsuit 3mm jacket
https://www.northcoastwetsuits.co.uk/category/sup-stand-up-paddle-boards/

TRANSITIONAL ProLimit SUP Top Loosefit Splash
https://sup.co.uk/prolimit-sup-top-loosefit-splash

Other top layer recommendations

WINTER Crewsaver Spray Cag
https://crewsaver.com/uk/yak/9230/yak-products/clothing-wetsuits/16667/SprayCag

TRANSITIONAL Palm Tsangpo Longsleeve
https://palmequipmenteurope.com/gb/thermal-insulation/81-487-tsangpo-longsleeve#/21-colour-jet_grey/34-size-s

TRANSITIONAL Rooster Soft Shell Gilet
https://www.roostersailing.com/collections/men-technical/products/106685

WINTER Palm Terek Jacket
https://palmequipmenteurope.com/gb/touring-jackets/45-247-terek-jacket#/34-size-s/52-colour-citrus

 

 

Afters

A changing robe is one of the best things you can buy. I wear my DryRobe walking the dog, the school run… I’d move into it if I could!

https://dryrobe.com

Sandbanks
https://www.sandbanksstyle.com/collections/accessories/products/sandbanks-style-changing-robe

Gorilla Robes (recycled)
https://gorillarobes.com/collections/all-collection/products/blue-waterproof-dry-changing-robe-long-sleeve

Moonwrap
https://frostfire.co.uk/moonwrap/long-sleeve/

Passanger Sherpa Linded Robe
https://www.passenger-clothing.com/collections/mens-changing-robes-ponchos/products/waves-recycled-sherpa-lined-changing-robe-khaki

While it looks as though Red Paddle have just released a gamechanger…

Red Paddle 3-in-one jacket

https://red-equipment.co.uk/products/mens-revolution-3-in-1-change-parka-nixie-blue

 


The paddleboard buyer’s guide

More people than ever are looking to buy a paddleboard, but where do you start? We've put together a handy guide to help you sift through the different shapes and sizes so you can find the best board for you.

The best way to find the most suitable board for you is to have a lesson and try a board/s so you know what sort of length/width suits you before you commit to buying. You can do that with us, of course, but this isn’t always possible, so we’re always on hand to discuss your needs by email, phone or message. We’ve tried pretty much every brand so you don’t have to. Just drop us a line...

Length/width/thickness

Most people who come to us for boards are looking to use them mainly on the river with the odd excursion in the [largely flat] sea on holiday. The most used/popular inflatable boards for this are ‘all round’ boards which are usually between 10.4-11’ feet long and 32”-33” wide, which is ideal for those just starting out. 

Most boards of this size will take up to 120kg in weight. 

Those who are slightly taller/heavier may need extra width (so 34”) not just for greater stability, but also to compensate for their extra reach.

Most boards are either 6 inches or 4.7 inches thick. The 6 inch-thick boards generally provide greater volume/stability, but if you’re lighter/shorter, you won’t necessarily need it. 

So, in short, if you’re lighter/shorter, consider something around 32” wide and 4.7 inches thick. If you’re tall or heavier, the extra width and thickness will give you greater volume.

If you’re looking to do longer paddles, or you’re after a bit more speed in the water, then consider a ‘touring’ board. These are usually 11-12’6” long. The longer boards tend to track straighter, while shorter boards are usually easier to manoeuvre. Touring boards are slightly thinner in width, sometimes as thin as 28”, but the extra length compensates for this.

Size and use

8' - 10'2  - Perfect for children or lighter riders, or those who want to surf(smaller boards can be easier to manoeuvre).

10' - 10'6 - Ideal for beginners, the most common size, perfect for learning and leisure paddles.

10'8 - Greater stability and perfect for families looking to share a board or have a pet on the front. Can be helpful for yoga too, or heavier paddlers.

11'- 12'6 - Longer boards come with a pointier nose, and are better for those who want to travel longer distances or who want more speed.

12'6 - 14' - Longer, thinner, faster... perfect if you want to start racing. Harder to turn.

Budget

£350 or less

Entry-level boards won’t be the best constructed, which means they’re often bendier. These are the boards you often see advertised on Wowcher/Amazon/GroupOn etc. When you’re stood in the middle, the nose and tail (front and back) might be out of the water, which also means the fin might not be as deep as it needs to be in the water, which then means you’ll have less control of your board. However, if buying a cheap board gets you into the sport, and you later decide to get a better quality board, then it will have done it’s job… but don’t expect much for this budget. You really do get what you pay for.

This is a reasonable entry-level package > https://www.gong-galaxy.com/produit/pack-gong-sup-inflatable-chip/

£350-£600

The quality of mid-range boards is getting better all the time. They’re usually made from better materials, they’re better constructed and, ultimately, this means they’ll be less bendy/easier and more fun to use/last longer. Some of these boards will also be ‘double layered’, which means they’ll be stiffer than most entry-level boards.

We sell boards in this bracket and so we recommend Sandbanks and their Ultimate/Cruiser/Elite/Wave options. They’re excellent quality, and their options suit people of all sizes. They’re also a more aerodynamic shape than other all round boards because they have a pointier nose, which means they glide through the water better.

https://www.sandbanksstyle.com/all-rounder-10-6

£700+

If you have the budget for a ‘premium’ board then you’re looking at brands such as Red, Starboard, JP, Fanatic. Are they worth the extra money? It depends how often you use yours, and where/how. Ultimately, they’ll be constructed with better materials and the construction itself will be of the highest quality. In our experience, the Sandbanks boards have proved as good as some of these top-end boards and cost less, but it's all down to personal opinion. That said, Starboard boards are exceptional, and are the stiffest boards we’ve ever used.

The paddle

You may hear some instructors tell you a paddle is as important, if not more so, than the board itself. This is down to personal opinion and how frequently you paddle, but once you’ve tried a lighter paddle… it’s very hard to go back! 

Most ISUP packages come with a three-piece aluminium/fibreglass paddle. These are fine for starting out, though they can be on the slightly heavy side, so a bit cumbersome. You can also get two-piece and single-piece paddles. Most packages will let you upgrade to a carbon paddle, or part carbon paddle, which are a lot lighter and easier to use. But each paddle will have a different sized blade and shaft depending on your height and what your intend to use it for. Again, it can be a bit of a minefield, but most SUP retailers are happy to talk you through the options.

Younger paddlers will definitely benefit from a shorter paddle. We use these, but you can now buy carbon kids paddles too, which are even lighter and easier to use, but a bit more expensive.

If you really get into your paddleboarding, talk to us about the range of carbon paddles. You’re welcome to try mine as a comparison toffee the difference.

You can also upgrade your fins too, but that’s for those seriously looking to get into racing/touring/surfing…

Whatever your question/query, we’re happy to help you on your paddleboard buying journey.


6 ways to float your boat: PFDs and buoyancy aids for paddle boarding

Should you wear a PFD (personal floatation devices) when paddleboarding? And, if so, which one? Here, we explain the difference between the different sorts of bouyancy aids and which type could be best for you

Whatever your paddleboarding or swimming ability, it pays to wear a PFD, particularly if you’re paddling alone. Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your board itself can help you, or that your swimming ability will be enough, but neither will come to your aid if you hit your head on the board, or another object, on your way down.  A PFD can be a vest, jacket, hip belt that is designed to keep you afloat and enhance your chances of survival.

There are plenty of PFDs to choose from, some of which are designed to be less intrusive on your paddling stroke. Below are some of the most common types, and some of PFDs we use and are happy to recommend, and what to look out for.

Remember:

  • Your PFD must fit. A poor-fitting buoyancy aid will be more of a hindrance than a help.
  • Make sure it’s tight around your body, but still comfortable.
  • Make sure it has an ISO/CE approved label.
  • Tuck away any loose straps so they can’t get caught.

Beltpack inflatable PFD
A belt pack is worn around the waist like a bum bag, and it’s the least obstructive type of flotation device you can get. They contain an inflatable bladder which inflates when you pull a cord when you need it. Once the PFD is inflated, they usually support you under the arms and chest, over your head, or as a cushion, and can be further topped up with air using a valve. Small and easy to use… they key is to ensure they’re certified, and the buoyancy matches your weight. Some also come with other pockets for phones and things, and D-ring clipping points.
NRS
Spinlock
Palm

All-purpose universal PFDs
Commonly known as ‘life jackets’, these buoyant PFDs are an ‘always on’ option, and so considered the safest to use for beginners or younger paddlers. They consist of a vest with varying degrees of foam thickness – you need to match your weight to the appropriate level of buoyancy – that covers your chest and abdomen, and which wraps over the shoulders. By spreading the coverage across the upper body, there is less bulk, making it easier for users to pull themselves back on to the board. It usually has a zip or buckle fastening, or both, which can be adjusted for a tight fit. 
Crewsaver/Yak
Gul

Collision vest
Similar to a universal PFD in terms of its coverage, but which looks like a coat of armour, these optimised vests cater for more adventurous paddlers who want the protection of a universal PFD but without the restriction of movement that comes with the foam thickness. 
Wetsuit outlet

Low-profile life jacket
Designed to provide greater freedom for paddlers around the shoulder/arm/chest area, these low-profile PFDs contain all of the buoyancy into a small area around the abdomen. This way, your movement isn’t restricted at all. Preferred by more experienced paddlers and those in a white water environment, they’re designed with a greater floatation area on the front to ensure you float face up if knocked unconscious.
Palm

Floatation jacket/bodywarmer
You can also find jackets and gilets that double up as buoyancy aids. They don’t look like buoyancy aids but provides 50N or more of bouyancy using a multilayer floatation system.
Baltic

Rescue PFD
A low-profile PFD with added features… a rescue PFD is more suited to advanced paddlers and instructors. They’re big enough to enable you to carry things such as a first aid kit, quick-release belt and more.
Safequip


The best local paddling routes you haven't tried yet!

The River Thames can be high, fasten and wild at this time of year. However, don't let this stop you, for there are some beautiful routes to be done. You'll need your British Canoe Association licence and be careful to dress for the weather. Here are some of our favourite routes...

KENNET & AVON CANAL
The canal is 87 miles that goes all the way from the Thames close to Wokingham Waterside centre to Bristol. Here are three launching points we recommend, complete with free parking.

Burghfield Road Bridge (opposite the Cunning Man pub)
Immediately after passing the Cunning Man pub on your left(RG30 3RB), you’ll see a right before the bridge, which is a short track with parking for around 5-6 cars. You can launch within 30ft.

Launch right next to the bridge (beware it can be quite fast flowing here where the canal funnels through the bridge), and travel upstream to Burghfield Mill to the weir, or downstream 1.3km to Southcote Lock. From Southcote, you can either return to your launch point via a loop around Burghfield Island, or continue downstream from Southcote Lock onto to Fobney Lock and into Reading (see next route).

Fobney Lock
Passing the Madejski Stadium on your left, then Reading’s Recycling centre, you can access the car park on the right using sat nav: RG2 0RP. Note the car park has a 2.1m height restriction.
Launch left of the lock (upstream) towards Burghfield to do the reverse of the route above, or right of the lock (downstream) to head into Reading and even to the Thames and Wokingham Waterside Centre. Note this can be a tricky portage to navigate. Choose the left bank across the bridge but be careful when using the flight of stairs.

Beyond Fobney Lock is a pleasant 1km stretch of countryside before it turns into an urban labyrinth of terraced houses before you reach County Lock. Continue past this to access the Oracle and the Thames, or Reading Abbey to Blake’s Lock. 

Sheffield Bottom
The canal-side car park is off Hanger Road, signposted Sheffield Bottom Lock Picnic Area, sat nav:RG7 4AJ. Note the car park has a 2.1m height restriction.

Head downstream past Garston Lock towards Burghfield and even Fobney Lock, or upstream towards Aldermarston Tea Rooms. Both Sheffleld Bottom and Garston locks sit within a set of ponds and reservoirs that are part of the Theale Nature Reserve.

BASINGSTOKE CANAL
The Basingstoke Canal runs for 32 miles from West Byfleet in Surrey to Greywell in Hampshire. It is perfect for paddlers who want an easy paddle on a flat stretch of water. You’ll be surrounded by wildlife and a little history! 

Barley Mow to Odiham
Head to the Barley Mow Car Park and slipway using sat nav RG27 8DE.

Launch and turn right towards Odiham and under the Barley Mow Bridge for a lock-free and beautifully rural nine-mile paddle (if that’s too far you can turn back at any point!). Beware some summer weed growth, which can get tangled on your fin and slow you down. If it feels like you’re wading through treacle, you’ll have something caught on your fin! Try and make it all the way to the Odiham Castle if you can… it’s worth it.

Crookham to Barley Mow
Crookham Wharf is situated by Chequers Bridge, which has a small public car park and…when we’re not in lockdown, a pub. GU51 5SY

A pretty wooded paddle with some attractive houses from Dogmersfield Village, this is a peaceful paddle. You can do a trip both ways, or a one-way shuttle to the Barley Mow pub.

Ash to Reading Wharf Road
Head to Ash Lock in Aldershot, GU11 2PS, and launch from the low bank above the lock, and turn right towards Fleet.

Another lock-free section of canal, you’ll be surrounded by wooded Heathland and pass Farnborough Airfield. which can be a good area to turn back if you don’t want to do the full 5.5 miles to Fleet, or the 11-mile round trip. With army ranges nearby, don’t be surprised to hear gunfire!

RIVER WEY
Measuring 87 miles, the River Wey forms where two streams join near Guildford, forming the Wey. It then meanders north and joins the River Thames at Weybridge. It’s a superb river if you’re looking for a picturesque paddle through beautiful Surrey countryside.

Pyrford to Guildford, or Byfleet
We launched from the Anchor in Pyrford, as others did, though ‘officially’ the Anchor is a private car park for customers only and with a barrier. There’s also off-road parking on the opposite side of the road.

Launch in front of the pub and heads right towards Byfleet, past the entrance to the Basingstoke Canal and the M25. If you make it all the way to Weybridge Town Lock, it’s 4.8 miles. This route is STUNNING!


Which paddle board should you buy?

The number of people who enjoy a session with us and who then go on to buy their own board is growing, which is brilliant. Our aim is to not only introduce the sport we love, but to enable people to be self sufficient to the extent that they can continue to paddle board with us or on their own. 

And let's face it: 2020 has been extraordinary for the sport as a whole. More people are trying the sport, more people are buying boards... to the extent that they've been sold out all summer. Yet the most common question from all the people we teach is... 'which board should I buy'?

Our response is always that there's no simple answer that suits everyone. Your size, your SUPping habits (coast, river, surf etc) and budget will all dictate your decision, and we recommend you try before you buy. Many shops or SUP centres enable you to try in a safe environment.

We sell boards for a specific brand because we like their boards and we love their customer care, but your choice has never been greater...

What should you look for?
Paddle boards are everywhere, which is great news. The proliferation of brands making and selling them means the prices are slowly falling too, but beware buying cheap... you may end up buying twice. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The problem is, where to start?

If you're looking for a board on which to learn and develop your skills, or simply to use on holiday with family and friends, then we recommend something that's going to provide with you the most stability for the best experience.

Size matters
Our fleet consists of several brands, but mainly Sandbanks. We have different sizes and shapes because, well, we're all different shapes and sizes too! A child shouldn't learn on an adult board, while a taller/larger adult shouldn't learn on the same size board as a smaller adult... the experience just wouldn't be enjoyable.

Most of our boards are more than 10' long, 6 inches thick and over 30 inches wide, though our smaller boards are thinner for lighter users. Many of the cheaper boards you'll find in your supermarkets will be thin, some 4 inches, and less wide, which makes for a really flimsy experience... not ideal. This increases your chance of getting wet, and the board becoming damaged.

Furthermore, if you continue to enjoy paddle boarding and improving, you might want to progress to something that's faster and more manoeuvrable, or which has a sleeker shape.

Quality
We won't bore you with any technical details but you won't be surprised to know that some boards are better than others, and that's reflected in the price you pay. Some have more layers, some have better quality stitching, better valves, fins, leash and the paddle itself... they're all trying to achieve optimum stiffness and performance. If you're learning for the first time you won't need the best board you can buy, but also try and refrain from buying a board for £300 or under. These boards are cheap for a reason... Our first board was from Decathlon, and it served a purpose, yet within a year we'd upgraded...

Our recommendations
We've experienced several brands – some good, some not so good – and so we're happy to recommend the following boards which have worked for us. Each includes a full pack, so comes with bag, leash, paddle, find and repair kit.

< £350
Gong Chop 10'/11'
Finding a budget board is a precarious business, so we don't think you'll find better than these from Gong, based in France. A windsurf and surf brand with years of experience, their boards are excellent quality, and still weigh in under £350 inc. postage.

https://gongsupshop.com/epages/box1707.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/box1707/Products/GON9SUPCHIP11

£350-£450
Sandbanks Ultimate/Cruiser/Elite/Wave
Our fleet consists of the Sandbanks boards, mainly the Ultimate, but also the larger Cruiser (great if you're taller or bigger), and the Elite and Wave models (thinner at 4.75 inches thick). Why do we use Sandbanks? They're excellent quality, and their options suit people of all sizes. The quality is superb (ours take a lot of abuse!). They're also a really aerodynamic shape, which allows for progression.

https://www.sandbanksstyle.com/all-rounder-10-6

£450-£500
Fanatic Pure Air
We've used the Fanatic Pure Air boards and they're excellent quality, and the perfect size for people of all sizes. With a rounder nose, however, they're not the quickest.

https://www.fanatic.com/product/pure-air/

McConks Go Simple
Made in the UK by a family business and boasting premium quality at low prices.

https://www.mcconks.com/inflatable_SUP_shop/product/mcconks-go-simple-106-2019/

£500-£600
For those who want a extra bit of speed, a touring board is longer and sometimes thinner in width, which means you cut through the water quicker. Choose from Fatstick's inflatable touring sup, or Sandbanks' touring SUP. Both excellent.

https://fatstickboards.com/shop/fatstick-inflatable-racetouring-sup-126/

https://www.sandbanksstyle.com/touring-12

£800+
Starboard Allstar
We love Starboard. They're boards are incredible, their focus on sustainability impressive (their boards come wrapped in paper, not plastic, and their bags are made out of recycled bottles). But they're not cheap. 

https://sup.star-board.com/inflatable-paddle-board/all-star-inflatable/

Red Ride
Arguably the world's most popular brand, UK brand Red boast excellent quality. These boards are regular award winners, hence the price tag. Are they £400/£500 better than the Sandbanks boards we use, though? Probably not.

https://redpaddleco.com/en-gb/board/106-ride-msl-sup/


GWTF shop

Swap your plastic bottle for one of our GWTF ones and do your bit for the environment. Come and grab a hoodie/t-shirt/towel while you're there. Our tees and hoodies are hand printed, so designed to last, while our towels look just as awesome on a sun lounger as they will on you! The perfect companion post paddle.
IMG_0202