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Yoga on the Thames with the Red Paddle Company.
I’ve spent a crazy amount of time out on various rivers and even oceans moving forwards by facing backwards – I row and scull and, as a sport, it has led me to some great adventures. But rowing isn’t just about purely going backwards fast. It can be about teamwork, skill and judgement. Thus water work is supported with land raining involving weights and yoga. I was therefore very excited to be asked to try a paddleboard, an activity I had seen out on the water but which I hadn’t had the opportunity to try. I wanted to see if I could balance as well standing up as I could sitting down and also try out a few Ashtanga Yoga poses which would truly test my ‘poise’!
I received my box from The Red Paddle Company on a Saturday and I was at first surprised at the size given that I have seen some people carrying backpacks with SUP boards in. However, this was the slightly larger version needed for the yoga I was proposing. The Red Paddle Company supply a range of high quality inflatable stand-up paddleboards. Mine was a well thought out package including a pump that’s a lighter version of a cycling track pump. The case is wheeled and easily moved around. There was a spare deeper fin for speed work and once pumped up it was remarkably solid. The valve is interesting – the first time the pump is released it can be a bit of a shock with respect to the speed at which the air escapes, so at this point it’s a) best to over-pump the board a little and b) have a second pair of hands to swap the cover back on. The paddle is a simple spring catch system and adjustable in height and lightweight. After the first tentative ‘build’ of your board, it’s quite easy to go from packed bag to river ready in 15 minutes!
The inflatable SUP board is very light and can be manoeuvred from land to water by one person. There wasn’t a buoyancy aid in the bag so I borrowed one from my rowing club and I would strongly advise, even for a short paddle, wearing one. A dry bag is also a must – because you will want to take that perfect on the water shot. I also wore the leg lanyard even though I had someone watching me on my first trip out because cross wash from river traffic can knock even the most stable into the water if it’s caught at the wrong angle. It’s also advisable to wear swimming clothes under the clothes you’ll wear on the board. Cargo shorts look good but a change of clothes means you won’t be going home with a soggy bum!
During my first launch, I tried out some yoga moves and found that I could do a headstand even with the lanyard attached, but that one leg poses would take a little practice.
On my second and subsequent outings, I went further along the river and at one point it felt like I was paddling the Amazon as we have parakeets on the Henley reach and they were squawking in the trees overhanging the water. Some speed can be achieved if you paddle consistently enough and I know people do race boards, as this class of craft has been tagged on to events such as the Head of the Dart.
But for leisurely enjoyment and a bit of an ‘explore,’ a paddleboard is a brilliant way of travelling, and it doesn’t require a lot of exertion once you have a rhythm going. It’s a great get-together past time and I and my friends have all now decided to add one of these to our Christmas lists.
The boards wipe down easily and packing away is simple. It’s a bit like rolling a yoga matt in a way and the fact that it all fits neatly into the bag and into a car boot means that next summer’s road trips could have the added benefit of the ability to explore where a solid hulled boat would be too much to carry. It could also be easily taken on a train and I am sure somewhere someone has devised a tag along for a bicycle. It also means home storage isn’t an issue. I’d definitely recommend having one of these paddleboards if you’re planning a few staycations!
For more information about The Red Paddle Company do check their website.