Updated: Dec 21, 2021
This summer was mental. It was absolutely SUP'n marvellous to be so busy and to grow from a one man band to working with a team of 9 free lancers. It certainly wasn't expected back in March. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It honestly wouldn't have been the success it was without all the hardwork that everyone put in. Throw in a second child to the mix and things ramped up. Tanja and Rab two of the instructors both have families of their own and said to me, "Second child. Game changer." The smirk on both of their faces was something I couldn't and didn't understand until the actual arrival in May.
After a winter of lockdowns and restrictions to meeting one other family, people wanted out. Lack of travel away from the UK meant people were looking for things to do at home and it seems that lots and lots of people found SUP. Starting to work with Water Skills Academy and being recognised by them as a business that put safety first helped to show that as a SUP school we were doing things well. This led to the opportunity to train and support new instructors and work with others in the industry. Dave Brown from Acwaterra in Wales, has been a particularly key person who has supported the business all summer.
Although lessons were run the previous summer, the new input from WSA helped with ideas and led to bringing in Rab, Tanja and Mike.WSA is a SUP specific Bcorp training provider. I love that they are all about SUP and it was an easy decision to affiliate with them to support the work that we do. Having more staff trained via the WSA courses allowed evening lessons to operate more than when I was free. I had spent a lot of time with these guys paddling and chatting on socials. All of them are keen boarders that love the sport. This for me was key to growing the sport around Glasgow and allowing our clients to have the best experiences.
The beginners sessions were busy and we ran between Auchinstarry Marina on the canal and from Dams to Darnley on the southside of the city. Things continued to grow so Ian filled in some spaces and ran some sessions down at too. Eva was born, so Rab took the reins of the SUP school while I tried to understand life with two kids and a full time teaching job. Forever grateful to Rab for all of his hard work over this time, but the rest of the summer too. In this time we were recognised by SUP International Magazine. A two page spread went into the spring edition of the mag and showcased all that we have been doing through socials and lessons.
Matthew, Gillian, Jos and Rachael all became involved early summer which allowed the introduction of Planet Patrol events and Glasgow Paddleboarders Pikes was launched. The kids work has been a lot of fun and only the weather hindered its progress. The growth and ability in the kids was fantastic to see. Mark and Ron both joined towards the end of the summer. This freed up more time for The Adventure Guides so we could run half day trips on bigger bodies of water. Tanja and Rab worked on different trips and we had friends, colleagues and families out exploring islands, looking for wallabies and sauntering down light rivers looking for signs of beavers. The addition of more staff also encouraged the much needed kids group to begin and Matthew and Jos both worked hard on Thursday's and Saturday's to allow this to have great success.
Rachael is a real eco warrior and supported the work with Planet Patrol which allowed two full days of working with members of the public in Glasgow and Sky TV workers in Edinburgh on the canal. We will continue to support this next year.
The collaboration with Josh the SUP Guide was a huge success on Loch Lomond and super relationships formed with the team at The Oak Tree Inn at Balmaha. 26 people enjoyed time on Loch Lomond over trips we ran over 3 days. This will be running again in 2022 and we are very excited about it! If you haven't made it up to Balmaha for a St Mocha coffee or dinner in the hotel then you really must go!
Having spent time with WSA and training different instructors I became aware of the need for more safety and support needed for new paddleboarders. Hence, we launched the SUP safety course which was a huge success and will continue next year. The courses ran on Fridays and Saturdays through September, October and November and saw many people feeling much more confident about paddling in open water and knowing how to get back on their own board properly, but also how to help others too. Being able to pass on our good knowledge of the sport has been very satisfying and possibly the most enjoyable part of the summer. Creating learning environments for new paddlers and also creating small friendship groups with people that now paddle together is what Glasgow Paddleboarders is all about.
Over £1800 was also raised through our social group on the paddle from the Falkirk Wheel to Glasgow. Malcolm Briggs shared his idea for supporting paddling the length of the English Channel. 36km. It was fantastic to be able to support The British Heart Foundation, a charity that Malcolm was very keen to engage with.
We've slowed down for winter now but have lots to look forward to next season. I haven't mentioned many of the other projects and fun trips and events that we have been involved in this year but this little insight shows how busy it has been and also allows for some calm and time out. The retail of Sea Lion and Gladiator will continue and boards are available via our website. Starboard have now allowed us to retail their awesome kit as well. Anomy will be back in 2022.
Thank you to all of our clients and thank you to the staff for all of your hard work throughout the season.
For the rest of 2021 socials will continue so keep your eyes peeled on the facebook page and group for all things winter SUP. Thursday night evening paddles on the canal and the Santa Paddle on the 18th of December. Please keep supporting and helping build the SUP community in Glasgow and the west of Scotland.
Friday club is coming over the winter and there will also be a new and exciting club that people can join as members which changes the way we run. We are very excited about this as it will help make the socials feel safer and allow people to be part of a more official set up.