A couple at the centre I teach at were enthusiastically discussing their recent foray into the world of SUP and later that same evening I was forwarded a link to a Groupon voucher to try it for myself. Quays is based in Mychett in Surrey but it's only 20 minutes from my part of Berkshire so it seemed a bit of a no-brainer.
The deal was £11.50 for two 60-minute paddleboard sessions, all kit included. It's important to note here that these were not lessons. I got only very basic instructions before being pushed out onto the lake: "Start on your knees, use the paddle, try and stay in this area, if you fall in the water's quite nice today".
And so I was off, in my borrowed shortie wetsuit. Well, sort of. After ten minutes of struggling to get to where I wanted to go and an awful lot of going in circles someone came out to me in a boat to inform me I was standing on it back to front. Sigh. But things got a lot easier after that.
I'm sure there's a lot of technique to learn, an optimum way to paddle, to stand, length of paddle, but it all eluded me and I can't say I suffered as a result. I had the lake entirely to myself for the first half hour or so. I was able to paddle up and down in front of the restaurant that over looks one end (only slightly self conscious) and terrorise the waterfowl to my hearts content. After that one of the speedboats came out with a wake boarder so I learnt to deal with the wash and miraculously stayed dry. I may have returned to the stability of my knees once or twice but it all felt second nature by the time I eventually made it back to land.
It took a good few hours for my legs to feel solid again. It didn't feel strenuous at the time but my legs and core had been constantly working to keep me balanced and upright and they ached a bit the following day. But the more lasting effect was on my mood; I felt pretty zen for the rest of the weekend!
I'm returning for my second session in a few weeks time, hopefully with a friend, and am looking forward to it a lot. I can imagine this would be a lot of fun in a group, maybe on a river trip, something I've been told other venues sometimes arrange.
If you're in Berkshire you can also try SUP at Bray Lake or Berkshire Sailing in addition to Quays.