Paddle Boarding: an Adventure for Everyone

We are very pleased to publish this article by Libby, owner of Board Games…

Board Games is a surfing and paddle boarding adventure business. We run SUP (stand up paddle boarding) lessons and trips on the beautiful coastline in Pembrokeshire and surfing lessons too. We love getting people out on and in the water, any age from 10 and up…I think our oldest paddle boarder has been 75, and oldest surfer 80…so you are never too old. Everyone learns in different ways and we have always been very accepting of that. We offer bespoke sessions to people who feel they need more time or perhaps are focusing on a certain area of skills too, along with our standard sessions that anyone can book.

I have always been a water baby, learning to swim at a young age, and loved being in the pool. I started in the outdoor industry at 16, and some things came easy… others did not. I have fought a good few fears to get to where I am today. Heights were hard and some watersports scary… which is partly why I started my business. I have a full understanding of what it is like to be a bit worried about new things, particularly water. Lots of people are scared of water, what is in it, what is under it, not being a strong swimmer… the list is pretty long. I wanted to make sure that people were enjoying themselves while doing a new activity. The main aim of Board Games is to have fun – it doesn’t matter what level you are at as long as you are having fun.

Paddle boarding is a great sport. It is accessible to lots of people and quite easy to pick up – from the basics of starting out on your knees to getting to your feet… learning different paddle strokes and how the weather can affect you. We take everyone through this on our sessions. Once you meet us, we kit you up in a wetsuit to keep you warm and make you extra floaty. Then there is a dry land lesson to run through paddling, kneeling, standing, falling in and recovery so people can start think about how it is all going to work. Then onto the water to get to grips with the rest of it. It really is a great way to spend a few hours, floating about on the sea. Our surf lessons are similar but with surfing waves in mind; we take our time, start off catching waves on your tummy and progressing to standing when you are ready. Every adventure is different, every person is an individual, so as a coach you never know how the sessions will progress… but we always have fun.

We find people fall in love with paddle boarding for its simplicity – lots of them like it because they can choose to sit, kneel or stand. Kids love it as they can jump in and get back on again with no worries. Some people just want to pootle about, others want to get out to journey along the coast, and that is the great thing about SUP… you can choose what to do. 

We always recommend people have at least one lesson before they head out by themselves. A guide can give you the top tips to get your skills going. We also share some safety knowledge which is really important. The growth of SUP has been huge. Board Games has been operating for just over eight years now and when I started no one knew what SUP was – now it’s everywhere.

This is good but there has also been an increase in rescues. Water can be a dangerous place – combine that with all sorts of weather and you can soon understand why it is so important to make sure you are taking precautions. There are some great courses out there on weather and planning trips; I often suggest hunting them out before people take to the water. We too can offer a bespoke session to discuss water safety, kit and weather conditions. We have offered some one-to-one sessions for people on holiday and locals who had never been on the sea before and wanted to make sure they would be safe. We run through kit to consider wearing, wind directions, other kit to take with you, weather forecasting sites and areas to consider on coasts that can be more dangerous and moving water…the list is quite long depending on what people are looking to do. The best advice is: if in doubt, don’t go out – and get yourself onto a lesson/course to make sure you know what you are doing. Don’t risk it if you are unsure or not an experienced water user. The RNLI has some great resources to check out here: https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/stand-up-paddle-boarding

I have been adventuring and working in the industry for many moons now, so there are so many stories, but I think one of my favourites is the 80-year-old lady I took out surfing. It was on her bucket list – she had never even put a wetsuit on – so that was where the adventure started. We got her suited and booted, headed to the beach, chatted about catching waves and headed in. Before long she was whooping and smiling from ear to ear, catching waves on her tummy and loving it. After an hour and a half, we had a chat, and I will never forget what she said: “I have had a lovely time but I think it is time for a cup of tea now, don’t you?” So, with that, up the beach we went, helped her out of her suit and got the tea on!

Every year I also get to have some very special wildlife encounters. Among the stunning birds we get along the coast, the razorbills and guillemots are beautiful. There are the fulmars with their strong wings bobbing along the coast, the gannets diving for their lunch… I love them all. The amazing jellyfish that come through in June (ish) mesmerise me, the way they move, their beauty and power…just incredible! The seals which we get here are playful souls when they are left to be them. We always keep our distance but sometimes they want to come and play and sniff out what we are up to. I often tell my clients we are playing in their garden, so we respect that and make sure not to make them feel unwelcome in their own home. Very occasionally we are treated to dolphins and porpoises – they don’t often come into the bays we use, but when they do it is extra special and a show for everyone. We really are spoilt here in Pembrokeshire… I just hope with the increase in people getting outside they all respect that the wildlife needs looking after too… taking rubbish home and keeping the correct distances. There is some great info for people to check out from the Outdoor Charter, it has a marine code for people to follow to protect our wildlife; you can check that out here: https://www.pembrokeshiremarinecode.org.uk/

 

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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