Pics courtesy: Ben Read, www.benreadphotography.com
Rachel Bambrough runs SUP4.co.uk based in London. She doesn’t just teach those wanting to take their first steps in stand up paddle boarding, however. We asked Rachel a few questions about her teaching and SUP in London.
Firstly, tell us how SUP4Beginners came about? – SUP4 was an ongoing idea, albeit without a brand name, logo or structure of how I would make it work, when working full time in the corporate world. It was a dream which I was striving towards but didn’t quite know when it would happen, or how successful it would be. I would spend my days dreaming about being outdoors and on the water. The original plan was to move closer to the sea to make the venture work, but this year I was made redundant from my corporate role which was very much the wake up call I needed to make it all happen. After coaching for various clubs in London and Denmark I decided to go solo and take the plunge to set up my own SUP school.
And where do you normally paddle – what’s good about your area for paddling? – I usually paddle on the non-tidal stretch of the River Thames between Hampton Court and Teddington Lock. It gives beginners and those that want to perfect their skills all the hours in the day to do this as we are not restricted by tide times. It’s a beautiful, picturesque stretch of river which houses many interesting plants and lots of wildlife. The other week I spotted a terrapin.
Is it just beginners you teach? Any plans to take your qualifications further? It’s not just beginners, all levels are welcome. The name SUP4Beginners was more of an idea to make it open and welcome to those that would like to learn. So many people are put off doing sport because they feel like they won’t be able to keep up or find anything in common with larger groups as a beginner. I wanted people from all walks of life, all age groups to come along and try out SUP. My main goal is to make the sport fun and accessible, whilst teaching people how to be at their safest whilst out on the river. I really want to make SUP more accessible to groups of people who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to try out water sports, whether this be because of a disability or a confidence issue; this is something I am working towards for next year.
What equipment do you use and why? – I am currently using the McConks 12’8 Go Explore touring board, but sometimes switch to McConks’ Go Wild if I fancy a faster trip down river.
Tell us about the wider London area for stand up paddle boarding. It’s not where most people would tend to think of for SUP. – The wider London area has a lot of untouched beautiful spots to paddle on, which you wouldn’t know about just by walking or cycling along the river. I like to find new excitng places to take my pupils. There are many spots to take your SUP board and enjoy local cafes and restaurants as part of your trip.
How many pupils have you taught to date? Since going solo I have taught over 200 people, which hasn’t given me much time to breathe. But I have loved every second. I have taught mixed age groups and abilities from complete newbies to those that would like to build up the confidence out on the water.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a SUP instructor? I love watching people stand and find their balance for the very first time, along with finding the confidence to lead me rather than me leading the client in the water. It’s so nice bringing like minded people together when paddling in groups for sunrise and sunset paddles. I also very much like watching people fall in and having a giggle, actually this is the best part about my job. I keep saying I must get a GoPro attached to the front of a beginners board to capture their funny facial expressions when they fall in. Would make a great exhibition!
What are your SUP plans for the rest of 2020? Ooooo that’s a good question. People will just have to keep an eye out on socials for some of the interesting events that I am planning, but I plan to run the club throughout the autumn/winter months for as long as it’s safe to do so. You can follow me @sup4beginners on Insta or FB. Website www.sup4.co.uk.
Any one you’d like to thank? There are too many people to thank, but those close to me who have helped me grow as a person and build my new venture know who they are.