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Celebs love to paddle in exotic locations, but how is it for a beginner in Pembrokeshire?


The training that rules the waves! Tinted celebs love to paddle in exotic locations, but how is it for a beginner in stormy Pembrokeshire?

  • There are now holidays and retreats dedicated to the stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) phenomenon.
  • Harriet Sime tried the popular water sport with TYF Adventure in Solva Harbor, Pembrokeshire
  • She said it felt "almost meditative" and concluded that it was "harder but far more invigorating than it looks".

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First there were a couple of sightings of Cindy Crawford, Kim Kardashian, and Pippa Middleton.

Then it suddenly turned into the fastest growing water sport in the world, with holidays and retreats dedicated to the phenomenon.

Yes, so-called stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has reached new heights, not least because it has been hailed as the path to a washboard abs and rock-hard derriere.

Harriet Sime went stand-up paddleboarding with TYF Adventure in Solva Harbor, Pembrokeshire

SIX FACTS TO SWIM YOUR BOAT

1. In 2017, South African surfer Chris Bertish paddled 4,600 miles, nearly two million strokes, across the Atlantic over 93 days.

2. Surfing will make its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now in 2021 due to Covid-19). Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) could play a role in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

3. SUP offers a full body workout. A one hour session can help you burn up to 700 calories.

4. On July 26th, Jordan Wylie made a 2,000 mile record attempt to SUP in the UK. He's still there.

5. The largest paddleboard is 14.85 meters long and can carry 24 people.

6. Paddleboard yoga has become popular in inland cities, including on the River Thames in London.

Apparently, the combination of balancing and paddling is great for building strength and improving arm, leg and gluteal muscles.

Of course, it helps that the pictures of celebrities, including Nicole Scherzinger this week, are always in exotic locations on seas as flat as a pancake. I'm just not sure I took the same shot in Welsh waters and put on a wetsuit, helmet and life jacket.

My friends and I try SUP with TYF Adventure in the port of Solva, Pembrokeshire, in heavy rain, thunder and gusts of wind.

Harriet (picture 2 from right) said the popular water sport was "harder but far more invigorating than it looks".

Harriet (picture 2 from right) said the popular water sport was "harder but far more invigorating than it looks".

Singer Nicole Scherzinger this week in St. Lucia

Singer Nicole Scherzinger this week in St. Lucia

We get on our knees to maintain balance and to get on our feet with relative confidence. The boards are surprisingly buoyant, much more than a beginner surfboard.

Matt, our instructor, is in his fifth season with TYF. "We started doing SUP sessions three years ago and it's been insane ever since," he says, keeping an eye on me as I shiver with every pull of the paddle.

“Everyone wants to try it out. It's really accessible and a lot easier to learn than to surf. Most people can get up almost immediately. Some find it more difficult but can get on their knees and still have a great time. "

Paddleboarding – standing on a floating surfboard with a single paddle – dates back to the 1950s when Hawaiian beach boys stood on their long boards teaching tourists to surf.

Our boards are three meters long, but weigh only 7.5 kg and are therefore easy to carry. In the middle of the board there is a rubber foot pad with a handle. We should put our feet on either side.

I train to paddle two strokes on each side and then rest for about 30 seconds while enjoying the sodden landscape and catching my breath. We make our way through the harbor and avoid the swaying fishing boats and algae.

When we join the open sea, we pass brave swimmers clad only in bathing trunks and bright orange tugs before pausing on a tiny pebble beach and taking a quick picture.

I'm never in full control – especially when I'm exposed to the wind. But even with the thunderstorm overhead, it almost feels meditative.

Paddleboarding requires open shoulders, measured breaths of the sea air and concentration only on the next stroke.

Call it mindfulness if you wish. I would say it's harder, but far more invigorating than it looks.

HOW TO PADDLE LIKE A PRO

  • Make sure your paddle is the correct length. It should be six inches above your head when it's upright.
  • Kneel on the board first to get your balance. When you're comfortable, stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Look at the horizon and keep your knees bent.
  • Place the paddle in the water at arm's length and pull it back along the board.
  • To change direction, slide the water towards the end of the board on one side and towards the nose on the other.

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