When I first started working at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest four years ago, I had never heard of Stand-up Paddle Boarding. The team at The Boathouse soon fixed this and it became a firm favourite of mine; now I jump at the opportunity to get out on the lake and introduce others to this wonderful sport.
My favourite part of Stand-up Paddle Boarding is the freedom of it. With most other paddle sports you are inside a boat, but here you are on top of a board. For me, this gives an amazing feeling of connection to nature; the sun hits your entire body and the wind whistles through your hair. Bliss! From here you can speed around the lake, or glide along at your own pace, the choice is yours.
A Little History
By now you have probably at least heard of Stand-up Paddle Boarding. While it originated in Hawaii as a variation of surfing in the late 1930s, it was only in 2007 that the British Stand-Up Paddle Association (BSUPA) was formed. In 2008 BSUPA ran the world’s first paddle surfing and racing event, establishing Paddle Boarding as an internationally ranked sport. In the same year, Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine reported a 400 per cent increase in site traffic.
For those of you who don’t know, paddle boarding involves a long board and a long paddle. Standing on the board the participant propels themselves through the water using the paddle. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Try it at Center Parcs
At Center Parcs the minimum age requirement is ten years old, but beyond that anyone can try it. The sessions follow a very loose structure to accommodate people of varying aptitudes, but generally there are three stages to the session.
1. Prone Paddling
This involves lying flat on the board and using your arms to propel yourself through the water. This is designed to give you a feel for the board.
2. Kneeling Paddling
Now we begin to use the paddle and learn the basic techniques for when we progress to standing. These are much easier to learn while kneeling as you don’t have to worry about falling off!
This is potentially the funniest ten minutes of your paddle-boarding experience, especially if you have come with family or friends. I predict at least one of your group will wobble and topple into the water while attempting to stand. Once everyone is standing comfortably, the instructor will begin to teach you the finer points of paddling.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon when trying to stand up. Most people will stare at their feet at this point, but keeping your eyes up will help with your balance and hopefully mean you’re watching others fall in, instead of falling in yourself.
- Challenge your instructor to perform a headstand on their board. Around 50 per cent of the instructors at Sherwood Forest can manage this, so you will either have a very smug or very wet instructor afterwards. Be warned: they will expect you to try it too!
How to Book
At Sherwood Forest we run at least two Stand-up Paddle Boarding sessions every day, apart from Monday and Friday when no sessions run. One hours’ tuition is just £25 per person and, as you can tell from my testimony, we love running them. Come and join us and see if we can’t convince you to love it too! Already coming on a break? Click here to book the activity.