A few days in Cardiff for @StandUpPaddleUK

A weekend away with Visit Cardiff and @StandUpPaddleUK

Well it had been a while since I last posted on here but we’ve been busy! So, here’s @StandUpPaddleUK’s weekend away in Cardiff.. Enjoy!

It got to Friday and we were ready for another SUP adventure. Car packed with Stand Up Paddle Boards and gear so we hit the road. Both Dale and Darren setting off from different locations. Dale leaving Nottingham at 4pm and the journey was a breeze, driving into Cardiff Bay and arriving at Voco St David’s Hotel at around 7pm. Darren was coming in from Bedfordshire so an additional hour of travel for him.

The Voco St David’s looked epic when lit

Parking was easy and plenty of it in the hotel car park or a large public car park next door. Arriving at the Hotel it was clear to see why this is a 5* hotel. The lobby was quite spectacular and we were greeted by amazing hospitality. As we came by car we left our gear in the car but I’m sure the hotel would have stored them for us if needed. As Darren was arriving later in the day, Dale and his family took a short walk to Mermaid Key a very short walk from the hotel, within quick access to a lot of restaurants and other bars in the bay. Dale had a wander around and even took his family on Cardiff’s version of the Big Wheel, gaining sights over the bay during sunset which was spectacular! A quick bite to eat and back to the hotel for a good nights sleep for Dale and the family. Darren arriving slightly later, but a very smooth check in was greatly appreciated!

Mermaid Quay is a Hive of activity!

The rooms at Voco were amazing, both had huge views over the bay and what a view it was! Big rooms with excellent facilities this was a good night’s sleep.

The Balcony View over Mermaid Quay

We wanted to check out Cardiff and were drawn to the fact that albeit a city has a wide offering of watersports access. Cardiff hosts CIWW Cardiff’s White Water Centre and here you can paddle on the local river or try paddle boarding on the lagoon, whitewater rafting, and various other water based activities. They even have a surf wave!

A Quick Dinner Tip: Darren recommends the Yakatori1 restaurant in Mermaid Quay.. “Some of the best Sushi I’ve experienced”.

Saturday. We got up and checked out the hotels excellent cooked and continental breakfast offering, socially distances and well managed by hospitable staff, even going out of their way to entertain and make Dale’s daughter a little hot chocolate and talk to her.

After breakfast we headed to CIWW to check in. It was pretty close to our hotel, 5 minutes by car. We prepared our boards in the car park then headed down on to the water. If you want to paddle on the river it’s a small £5 payment and sign in at reception, so that’s what we did.

Plenty of space to prep kit in the car park

The plan was to head up the River Ely for around 2 miles as the weather was a bit dubious and we had afternoon plans with our partners. We changed in the car park, however there is access to changing facilities and toilets at the centre. We carried out boards through the side gates and down some steps to the pontoon which was an easy get on. It was really nice to launch in the marina. Heading right, the river was well protected from winds so it felt like an easy paddle. It is a pleasing start, heading through the boats in the marina and high rise buildings of Cardiff Marina.

A very cool back drop of Cardiff Marina on the Ely

The River was empty so it was plane sailing for us. We did a shade over 4 miles in 1hr 20 mins. Once we got off the water it was a quick deflate of our boards, pack up the kit and drive back to our hotel.

Our route courtesy of Komoot

Whilst paddling, Dale’s wife took their toddler to Techniquest, a science attraction next door to the hotel and played for hours their until we returned. One thing about escaping to a city break to paddle is keeping the family entertained. We even managed to book into the pool and spa in the evening and have a swim and sauna before dinner.

Darren and Becky sampled some of the shopping in the area. St David’s Dewi Saint shopping centre was vibrant, busy and full of shops.. As you’d expect! Lots of parking and plenty of options for lunch.

The Stable Cardiff was a great Lunch spot

On Sunday we enjoyed another great breakfast and recharged our batteries before meeting at Channel View Leisure Centre. £5 to access the river per board, free parking and easy access, not bad at all. We met with a couple of local paddlers and headed up the River Taff. This route is excellent, especially for those who love a stadium. We cruised past the Principality Stadium, the views from the water were very, very cool.

Cruising past the Principality Stadium
📷 Dale Mears

Certainly a different back drop to other paddle routes! A very wide river at the base of Cardiff Bay which narrows down and gets quite shallow after you reach Cardiff Castle. We did a 5.5 mile route in 2hr20mins. Just watch out for those river boats ferrying passengers up and down the Taff.. they will leave you in a meaty wake!!

This section of river in constantly in use, remember to always stay to the Right

Just before getting off we also paddled out into the bay to check out the views over the hotel and large sailing boats the water here was glassy and definitely very different from a river paddle. Worth noting to make sure you understand the buoys to make sure you have a safe paddle.

Cardiff Bay was very calm and a nice flat paddle to end the session
The Sunday route from Komoot

After the paddle we head our separate ways. Darren heading home with the longer journey, with Dale and his family heading to Cardiff Castle another great attraction whilst in the city.

Millie seemed to enjoy herself!

If your looking for a trip away and want to check out some easy city watersports we definitely recommend adding Cardiff to your list!

Better yet.. CLICK HERE to enter Visit Cardiff’s completion for a SUP adventure much like ours! Visit Cardiff have teamed up with partners Cardiff Harbour Authority, Cardiff International White Water & voco St. David’s Hotel to treat the winner and their guest to an exciting 2 day water sports break this October including accommodation, tuition and equipment!

Please note, you must be available to claim your prize experience on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd October 2021. Get entering for an epic trip away!

Ciao for now! Darren and Dale

Can I Paddle during this new Lockdown?

Let’s discuss the recent guidance changes from Gov.UK, Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing

I’ve certainly done a lot of paddling during the Lockdown’s

A tough one to write about and discuss.. Paddling during Lockdown 3.0.. With many outlets including the Canal and River Trust and British Canoeing saying it’s OK to paddle.. Is it? Let’s take a look..

The government guidance states that:

  • Outdoor exercise is still permitted, but should be limited to once per day
  • Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch)
  • Organised and structured outdoor sporting activity must not take place
  • All indoor and outdoor sports clubs, centres, venues and facilities will need to close
Solo paddles or with your household, in local areas only..

Paddling for exercise is permitted within the government measures, so long as you are:

  • Solo 
  • Paddling with people you live with 
  • With your support bubble (if you’re legally permitted to form one) 
  • When on your own, with one person from another household while following social distancing and I would advise no sharing of equipment

Personal equipment – It has been confirmed that collecting personal equipment belonging to an individual, from a facility such as a boathouse, to enable individual exercise is permitted.

Canal and River Trust’s website stating the navigations are open for paddle sports..

Main Guidance Notes:

Social distancing – Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household. It sounds daft but I would take a face covering out on the board, some people may be isolating on a boat or barge – you just never know..

Outdoor exercise limits – Exercise should be limited to once per day. It is clearly stated on the Gov.uk site under Exercising.

Travel – Outdoor exercise should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area if necessary to find an open space to exercise (such as a publicly accessible place to launch).

Waterways licence – Paddlers are reminded that a waterways licence is required to paddle on licensed waterways. This is paramount as always, regardless of the license provider.

British Canoeing website and their Guidance

“If you break the rules…”

“The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices)”.

“You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000” – This is a direct extract from the Government website.

Probably the most Solo paddle I can show you!

Be sensible, those paddles will wait. There is absolutely no need to go exploring right now. Much like the first Lockdown – we are advising Stay at Home and to follow government guidance. You should not be attending waterways you do not know, which in turn could cause further, unnecessary stress on the NHS… Be sensible.

In my opinion and this isn’t guidance..

We are in a National Lockdown so you must follow the Government rules whether you agree or not – not Facebook, not some chaps on Instagram – the Police will simple say you aren’t following the rules and fine you as explained above. Some people will have to accept they cannot paddle right now – harsh reality, but true. Many people that paddle are land locked and cannot get to the waterways – there are other forms of exercise. Looking at the guidance of ‘local’, I would say in your village, or within walking distance.. Driving 15-20+ minutes for water isn’t local, a couple of miles within the same town would seem acceptable but I’ll try to get clarification on this..

When we get more updates through @StandUpPaddleUK we will share them and I will update this post!

Ciao, Darren

Red Original Accessories Paddle Board Lock

The Red Original Paddle Lock. Protecting your equipment! A review for @StandUpPaddleUK

Simple and effective. It may just be a lock, but does exactly what it says on the box…

With paddleboarding forever on the rise, and it’s ever more increasing popularity due to the COVID, it seems board theft is becoming quite prevalent.. Worry no longer..

The Red Original Board Lock features;

• 3.2mm Marine grade twisted stainless steel cable: Resistant to corrosion and provides increased cut resistance.
Abrasion-resistant Coating: Protects the cable from fraying or from damaging other objects the lock is attached to.
• 340cm Long: Ability to lock multiple boards together with one lock.
Programmable Combination lock: Easy to use carabiner combination lock can be set to a personal code further reducing the likelihood of board being stolen. 

I locked my two boards to a sign post. It easily fits two boards stacked. I looped the cable through my D rings for a more secure locking but you could link the cable through grab straps (Although a sharp pair of scissors / blade will likely cut your straps) My suggestion is loop the cable through the strongest points on your board – this really depends on the brands / style. Red Original Accessories are a universal fit which is great.

Two boards stacked and Locked

The programmable lock is great and it’s also a carabiner which is handy. I’ve used this a couple of times now and have confidently left my boards outside on a main road in St. Ives during my last trip away.

Just don’t forget your Code..

RRP £32.95. Don’t forget we have a checkout discount, use the code StandUpPaddleUK15

Is it worth it? 100% Yes – regardless of the haters, the cheapstakes and nay sayers. Spending £32.95 on a product which is protecting an items worth between £500-1000 each, it’s a no brainer for me.

As ever, find me on Instagram search @Darrens_Visuals / @StandupPaddleUK for more!

Things to Consider When Buying a Paddleboard

Discussing the points to look out for when buying a Paddleboard – @StandUpPaddleUK

When I think about paddleboarding I think open waters, the sound of the paddle breaking the top of a lake and generally just having quite a relaxed time. I’ve been paddleboarding now for a few years – I am by no means a professional but over the years with @StandUpPaddleUK I’ve tried, tested and reviewed various different board shapes and sizes, so I’d like to think I know a little bit about the subject, hence this post for @StandUpPaddleUK.

Firstly I’ll point out I use BluefinSup Boards, so yes, you’ll see them in some of the images in the post – this is not a ploy or plot directing people to specific brands, this is an honest post trying to help you find the right board. That aside, let’s get started..

In the industry there are many manufacturers of boards, obviously some are better than others – that’s a fact but you’ll be lured in by many peoples opinions. The StandUpPaddleUK managers are involved in many paddleboarding groups on Facebook & Instagram, there is a very common theme coming to the forefront every time we log into one of those apps. The want for ‘Cheap boards’ and a huge lack of information..

The current pandemic has really surged the interest in SUP. So much so all of the manufacturers that we are in communication with have has told us that they are struggling to keep up with demand, many out of stock. It’s very likely that most people will be having a staycation this year and the allure of a paddleboard seems like the perfect piece of kit for that trip in the UK.

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If you’re having a Staycation, an iSUP is ideal..

I’ve always believed in the saying ‘buy nice or buy twice’. That is 100% the case when it comes to buying a Paddleboard, new or secondhand. I don’t want to get into a rant about one brand being better than another, so let’s discuss the key points you need to look out for when buying a Paddleboard;

  • Sizing (Length, width, thickness)
  • Board type (all-rounder, touring, race, surf, multiperson), yoga)
  • Versatility (Hardboard or Inflatable)
  • Quality of the Build (Drop Stitch, Chambers, Rails, Deck Pad)
  • Accessories (Pump, leash, paddle)
  • Manufacturers Eco-Credentials (are they working with any renewable technologies, do they provide a buyback system where they safely recycle old boards?) * this one is quite an important one for me personally*

Those are probably the key points to be looking out for when buying a board, let’s explain each one a little bit;

Sizing and Board Type

Finding what size is right for you is really the pinnacle when purchasing a board. Each type of board has its own set of characteristics so you really need to be choosy over what you select (ie are you a social, touring, racing paddler). A key point to note is most people will be OK with an All Rounder, but for those looking to cover more flat water may want to consider a longer board which will glide across the water better, and track straighter.

As with the characteristics, each board manufacturer will have a set maximum weight per board size & type, it’s always best to check with the manufacturer that the board you’re interested in will be able to hold your weight.

It will be very easy for me to put a chart here and say that a certain weight will work with a certain board, however it really does depend on the type of paddleboard you’re using. Do your homework with the specific brand you a considering buying – each brand will be able to help you with this.

For those in the beginners phase, here’s a rough guide for board width and thickness;

70 kg – 30″ wide > 80kg – 31″ + wide > 90kg – 32″ + wide > 100kg – 33″ + wide >110kg+ – 35″ + wide.

You will find the majority of boards run between 4-6″ thickness. 5″ is suitable for a beginner (and most people), with heavier paddlers opting for 6″. The thicker the board, the heavier the board. But again this will also differ with each manufacturer. Wider boards than you require can cause unnecessary instability and affect your paddle stroke (difficult to reach a vertical stroke pattern).. And a wider board is actually more board to control, bare that in mind.

All rounders in the 10’6-10’8 range are great boards for beginners in my opinion. A smaller paddler, 1.7m / 5.6 approx maybe opting for a smaller compact board like a 9’7 with a max width of approx 31-32″. 

Remember, ROUGH GUIDE.

Note: I ride a 6.2inch thick tourer board, I’m 6ft, 88kg.. That’s a personal preference through trial of different boards, and for my usage type.

Versatility

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Quite a simple one really. Are you looking to have a hardboard or an inflatable? Obviously with a hardboard you will need the facility to be able to transport the board and and store it. iSups are by far the more popular option is easily packed away into a backpack. Generally anyone manufacturer providing a paddleboard package will be able to have the board, a paddle and the pump housed in the bag.  If you’re planning on hiking to lakes or travelling abroad then an inflatable is for you.

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I’ve travelled abroad with my iSUP packed in a bag a few times. Very versatile and 100% flight safe in my experience
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I’m not a user of a hardboard – I have used them in the past but for guidance on them I’d have to point you elsewhere for assistance..

Quality of the Build

Not all paddleboards are made equal.. What are the most important parts of a well constructed paddleboard? High Quality Drop Stitch (Single Layer, Stringer, Double layered or MSL Fusion (RedPaddleCO only), Double Chambers, Multi Layered Rails, Fin types…

Drop Stitch – there is quite a lot of different varieties of drop stitch patterns. For example my board has a double layer with around 11,200 stitches of 500 denier space yarn per m2 which makes up a very rigid board. Basically a woven drop stitch provides less stretch and higher strength. Again it’s very much manufacturing dependent because some brands are glue-free (laminated), others are using glued layers, but the key point to understand about drop stitch is it consists parallel sheets of material connected by thousands of 5 or 6 inch length threads. If a brand is promoting how good the drop stitches are then you’re on the right track to a good board.

Laminated Double Layer construction makes for a more durable, stable, lightweight and more strong paddleboard. It’s the best performance construction being used by most brands. A Double Layer will be heavier (in comparison to a Single Layer) but it makes up for that by being longer lasting. There is a version of Double Layering which involves gluing – these types are much heavier and quite outdated in terms of technology. My understanding is this technology is still being used but the ‘big’ brands have phased it out.

MSL stands for monocoque structural laminate. This has been developed by RedPaddle Co and only found on their boards. It’s lighter than other materials yet it maintains a stiffness and strength which is better than all the previous technologies RedPaddle have used.

– Some brands are using a Single Layer or Single Skin, these boards are generally cheaper due to the less intensive manufacture. Less material makes a more lightweight SUP. Single layer boards are generally less durable but much lighter than Double Layered.

– As above these are also brands using Single Skin with Stringer (Comes from a surfboard method of manufacture). The Stringer runs from nose to tail, it is a cheaper option on the spectrum. It provides a more rigid ride but still has some flex.

Rails – Generally a dual rail band is the most common set up, but you will see brands are still providing boards with a single rail with a taped seam. Personally I’d go for the dual rail as it makes a significant difference in the strength and durability of your board.

Double Chambered – having a double chamber paddleboard is another component of stiffness. As ever each manufacturer will have varying types of double chamber technology so once you’ve decided on the correct size board then you could look at the manufacturer and decide from there. In simple terms the chamber is what you pump air into. The advantages of a double chamber means the board will be very durable and more rigid. It also means that the air is evenly distributed across the board. On average Double chamber board is approx. 25-30% stiffer than a single chamber.

Fin Type – most boards come with a standard US Box fin. Arguably the most widely used. Some brands have their own take, for example a ‘Smart Lock’ Fin which is locked into place with a simple catch and lock system. Loads of different fin types, surf, touring, rivers.. That’s a different post though!

Accessories (in a Package)

Generally when you buy a paddleboard package it will include;

  • Board
  • Paddle (sometimes)
  • Leash (likely coiled)
  • Fin
  • Pump
  • Main Bag

That would be the minimum in a paddle boarding package, but as discussed previously there are manufacturers who only sell boards, no packages. On the face of it that’s a lot of kit in a bag and generally a manufacturers focus will be on the board as it is the main item.

A good indicator of a good package is the pump. If you pull out of pump and it’s very light weight, flimsy and cheap feeling piece of equipment then odds are that this manufacturer has focused on the board rather than the accessories. That’s my opinion but it is something I’ve found.

There are now so many different packages out there that it’s difficult to establish the difference but in my opinion any manufacturer providing a package set up should be charging you between £500 and £800 – that range should tick all the boxes.

Oh, the Leash, how could I forget you.. the foremost safety item of your SUP. All packages will be provided with a Leash, these come in various types (straight, coiled, QR, waist – post about specific uses to follow).

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Never paddle without your leash. They save lives

As a user of an inflatable paddleboard which came in a package I can safely say that there are manufacturers out there who provide a solid bundle deal.

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I’ve used several package boards for a few years now and had no issues

Manufacturers Eco-Credentials

As I said at the top this one is quite important one for me, and many SUP-ers, as you can imagine once your paddleboard is destroyed beyond use/badly punctured/ Non repairable; where does it go and how does it get recycled?

Many brands have their own initiatives, working with companies providing recycled materials to make boards. Others providing buy back services; when you upgrade they take your old board and recycle it / reuse materials. Others recycling boards in bulk safely. There is lots of good processes going on in the industry. Head over to any brands’ website and review their sustainability or environmental page for more info.

What you need to remember is that very cheaply manufactured boards are not going to recycled in a conventional way, if at all.. 

Now with all that being said. I’ve owned various different boards since I’ve started paddleboarding. I’ve purchased second-hand boards and I’ve had boards come straight from the brand.

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My first board was a 10’8 RedPaddleCo, it was secondhand and served me very well

 

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My Sprint 14 was a New Board and has been excellent since I opened the box

Do your homework when buying your first board, often finding a good secondhand board is the sensible option until you are 100% confident you will be sticking with paddleboarding for the long term. Outlaying over £800-1000+ on the top of the range paddleboard isn’t really a requirement when you’re a beginner. I would advise going to your local lake or paddleboarding club and asking to use the boards/have a lesson (obviously this will be dependent on coronavirus/social distancing as some clubs aren’t allowing rentals – this may well have changed). It’s always a great idea to test out different manufacturers boards before you commit to buying one..

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Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to use their board. Here’s Dale and Me switching boards to give them a little test.. You’ll often be surprised by riding a similar board from a different brand

 

You’re going to find opinions on this absolutely everywhere online, dare I say snobbery too. There are many a paddler out there who are loyal to a brand and will push their specs. I’d advise speaking to the experts, people like supinflatables.co.uk/ – very knowledgable and a nice navigable site, with a ton of info. And of course the manufacturers themselves – most brands cover every size board and will be able to help you make an informed decision.

Well, that was a lot of information in one hit! As you can see once you start getting into the nitty-gritty of paddleboard construction you can really see why the best boards are expensive, and it is a minefield. They can be difficult to manufacture and the technologies used are not cheap so why would the board be? We want as many people as possible on the waterways, paddling safely and sustainably. This isn’t a post to push people away from the sport, far from it, more to make you consider what you are buying and where you’re buying it from..

Ciao, Darren

LifeJacket Skin Protection #GotYourBack

LifeJacket Skin Protection is a company doing their best to prevent Cancer in Men. Get your Discount Code inside! Article by Darren Farrar

Sun Protection and Skin Care is absolutely paramount, especially when your out on a bike, hiking or paddleboarding. It’s never been more important to protect yourself from the sun. Today I wanted to bring this brand to everyone’s attention. Say hello to LifeJacket. Skin Protection designed for Men.

Introducing LifeJacketSkin

These guys are focused on helping to prevent cancer in Men. Did you know almost twice as many men died from skin cancer versus women all over the world? In the past 20 years skin cancer in men has certainly become a more regular thing, with the forecast over the next 20 years estimating that it will double. That is a crazy statistic, especially against something that is preventable if you protect yourself correctly..

As a very outdoor orientated person I’m forever out on my bike, paddleboard, even walking and hiking, sunscreen is something you almost forget about, even take for granted that your skin is not protected. Billy at LifeJacket contacted me after seeing that I was an outdoor person on Instagram. We had a good chat about the products, the brand and most importantly what I took most of the conversation was how much he cared about getting people protected.

Now before I get into the chit chat about the products and the brand. For those that are interested in the science behind the product click here. LifeJacket have gone into depth about skin protection in this article. These guys are backed up by science and medical professionals, the link is really worth a read..

Sunscreen generally is expensive. It’s expensive because it’s tested and formulated in a lab, cheaper alternatives do not provide you with the same protection and it is a product you shouldn’t cheap out on when purchasing! The products I’ve been testing over the past few weeks have really been great. LifeJacket sent me over the daily protection moisturiser, the daily repair Moisturiser and the 50+ Sun Gel – the Weekender Pack. Sachets were also sent, these are great to put in your bike bag for when you’re out and about.

Generally I don’t suffer with sunburn very often. Lucky in some ways however having dark hair and relatively tanned skin does often mean that you forgot to apply – I’m at fault for that. As I say I’ve been using the products for a few weeks now, it was the ideal time as we have had some very hot weather, over +30° for several days.

Satchets are really handy for when you’re out and about

I went to the lake local to where I live and the weather was 34°, the perfect test for this kit. I used the 50+ Sun Gel before I went out on my paddleboard. Usually even when I apply a factor 30 and I go out paddle boarding, often I get redness on the shoulders and collarbone. After using LifeJacket by didn’t experience any form of redness, soreness or skin irritation. This was really surprising as pretty much every suncream/sunscreen I’ve used doesn’t fully protect me or irritates my skin.

Second test was while out on my road bike. I used the 50+ Sun Gel. Again, quite a warm day it was between 32 and 34°, there was a slight wind also. I cycled approx. 40 miles so I was out for just over 2hrs. I had the Sun Gel applied. I always find after I’ve been out in the sun my quads and upper arms usually get a little bit burnt. Not on this occasion. The Sun Gel protected me very well – which is great as the ‘cyclist’s tan’ often is a burn line rather than a healthy tan line..

Third test was during a weekend away in Kent. I was out paddle boarding with my mate at Joss Bay, well over 30° with a coastal breeze. We were out on the water for about an hour and a half. I was more than expected to have a little bit of burnt skin, especially with the coastal breeze but I woke up the following day with absolutely no irritation or burnt skin. The 50 Sun Gel is brilliant – who knew I would be saying that about suncream..

I’m not a Doctor, not a medical expert or a specialist in skin but what I can say is these products are working for me and I feel obligated to share this and the brand with the community. StandUpPaddleUK are in discussions with LifeJacket about giving our community a discount on their products at checkout, and we will be giving away some of their products in the near future! Stay tuned to our Instagram for this..

Fourth test was the most important one yet, a trip to Sardinia with my girlfriend. Projected 30+ degrees for a week.. LifeJacket’s products were about to get tested!

As you can imagine I’m off paddleboarding for hours on end, hiking and generally putting my skin through its paces but LifeJacket really had me covered. First day was 34 degree, obviously opted for the 50 SunGel. Probably through my own mis-care I had slightly burnt legs but applying the Daily Moisturiser really helped. I woke up the next day feeling pretty good and not really burnt.

I spent most of my day in and out of the sea water.. You should be reapplying sun screen every 2 hours and after getting out of water…

This is not really a review. This is me saying that I absolutely approve and agree with what this company is trying to do. Never has it been more important to apply sunscreen and I genuinely hope the people that read this agree. Myself and Dale (StandUpPaddleUK) have been using the products are really hope to help educate paddleboarders about protecting their Skin.

LifeJacket have been kind enough to provide the following for StandUpPaddleUK Followers;

1. The discount code is now LIVE: standuppaddleuk10 gives 10% off the entire shop and, Unlimited use.

2. LJ have set-up a survey for our followers. First 500 people to complete it get our welcome pack sent out to them for free. It contains x3 sachets plus a card with a message from LifeJacket, and a 15% one-off discount code. CLICK HERE FOR THE SURVEY. It is really quick and simple to complete.

LifeJacketSkin sell various products other than sunscreen and they have a shed load of info about effective skin care and sun protection. You can find them below, and don’t forget to use our discount code !

Ranging in various sizes for Hold Bags and Carry On…

Find out more on their site. That’s enough from me, the products work and speak for themselves. I’m happy to be working with these guys to really combat the issue of Skin Cancer!! Ciao, Darren.

Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest ‘On Board’ Review

Vivobarefoot ESC Tempest Review by @StandUpPaddleUK’s Darren and Dale

So a couple of weeks ago Darren of @StandUpPaddleUK did an ‘out the box’ review of the new Vivobarefoot amphibious shoe, the ESC Tempest.

Click here for the ‘Out the Box’ Review by Darren

Darren and Dale have been using these in various different scenarios but we wanted to see how well they integrated with the use on a paddleboard.

DF: I headed down to Cornwall to test out the shoes on the paddleboard and along the coast line.

DM: I have managed to get them on the water quite a few times due to it being the summer holidays and being a teacher.

First impressions when in the shoes when wet:

DF: As expected the very grippy on sand and rocks. I went swimming and it feels like you get an additional bit of traction and it doesn’t feel like the shoe is trying to float to the surface which is great (especially if you’re doing the triathlon) I found the fit to be exactly the same when the shoe was wet or dry, no shrinkage which is another bonus. Note they come up tight when new.

On the paddleboard:

DF: I expected super grippy through all motions of the paddle and stroke, and that was confirmed! As I said before the shape and orientation of the sole really provides a sure footing when pressed against the deck pad. I also found them to be snug and comfortable while on the board, as we all know sometimes when you’re standing for long periods the soles of your feet can get quite sore, I didn’t find that with these. I was riding my 14 Tourer and felt comfortable at all times with the grip of these shoes.

DM: Once on the board although having quite a big sole on the boot and a lot of grip it feels as if you are not wearing a shoe, it feels very natural and there is a good connection between you and the board. The first time out I was just messing around on a 10’6 board and really moving around the board doing step backs and generally messing around with fiends and everything just felt so grippy and natural. Having since been out a few times on my tourer the experience is the same, great contact with your board and a real sense of unity that you don’t get form wearing trainers on a board or a thicker boot. 

Use in the sea / water:

DF: As I said before, impressed. I went swimming in these as I thought I was getting a little bit more traction on my feet, the only downside is when you’re coming out of sea water/sand the inside of the shoe allows sand to enter which can be uncomfortable if your barefoot. I quick rinse and they are good to go.

Yes, that’s underwater!

DM: What is nice is when they get wet they stay light and don’t fill up and feel cumbersome. The drainage is good and even when taking a slight swim these shoes did not get in the way and felt super light. I didn’t have issues with anything entering the boot in any of my paddles but wasn’t in the sea so just general dust and dirt stayed away.

Comfort level / Fit :

DF: Surprisingly quite comfortable for a minimal shoe. I wore them around St. Ives town, walking about 6miles and they were good. No discomfort on the board either. Just remember that these are a snuggly fitted shoe due to their design around the top of your foot. Due to a previous foot injury I found the polymer band to rub on my metatarsal a bit.

DM: Fit wise these things as mentioned they come up tight, now let me explain why, the tight part comes from putting them on and is due to the lack of stretch in the material sock due to a polymer band which sits across the top of the foot. Once on this does not bother you and actually in use helps keep the shoe tight on your foot and in place. A few times I have questioned what would happen if this band was removed? Well honestly I think the shoe would be easier to get on but would also be more likely to slip and possibly come loose which you would not want. Once on a short walk around feels very strange due to the shape of the shoe. This is not a discomfort but very different to wearing a normal shoe/boot. After a while this feels pretty normal and you get used to it. 

Other things of note:

DM: I usually wouldn’t mention is safety, as generally feel pretty comfortable on a board but recently doing more river paddling and canals coming out of lockdown these are not always the cleanest environment. The River Trent especially isn’t Evian water and getting in and out on banks you don’t know what you’re treading on! The sole of these would not puncture on a needle or sharp can etc.

DF: Given the multi use nature of the shoe it could be marketed to anyone in the outdoor arena which is excellent. Shoe comes in several colours also if Grey isn’t to your fancy. They do cool black and orange which is very StandUpPaddleUK!

DM : It’s always hard deciding where I would pitch a shoe like this, who would most likely use it? I feel anyone like me who spends a lot of time on rivers, rocks, canals, at the beach where you could stand on sharp rocks would be ideal. I think these would make a great shoe for people touring and offer great comfort when portaging. These would be incredible for those paddling white water, and starting to do more moving rivers as offer so much grip moving around the board yet keeping plenty of contact with the board.

Are they worth the money?

DF: I personally haven’t done a huge amount of research into amphibious shoes. I’ve always worn a wet suit shoe when out paddling. Retailing at £170 on the Vivobarefoot website they are on the expensive side but given that they are a multi use piece of footwear I think it does justify the cost. I like them a lot and will be using solely for paddleboarding from now on.

DM: I really rate these shoes both on the water and off and will certainly be wearing them a lot. Vivobarefoot have a 100 days program where they ask you to try it for a period of time to make your decision. I have to say after a few paddles I really am converted to these. As Darren mentioned the price tag is high but the reasons for this are the manufacturing that goes into a shoe like this, its made with new materials such as bloom and recycled polymers, and the parts which are not sustainable are built well and to last such as the Michelin rubber on the sole.

After all that testing.. DF needed to chill!

Find more reviews over on @StandUpPaddleUK – thanks Darren and Dale.

2019 BluefinSup 14 Sprint Review

@darrens_visuals review of the 2019 BluefinSup 14 Sprint Paddleboard

After cutting my teeth with Bluefins Cruise Carbon, I wanted to see how other boards in the range looked, held on the water and most importantly.. Did they provide any variation in their range? After chatting with Liz at Bluefin they sent me down a 14 Sprint to test..

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Some similar, but also great, features to what the 10’8 CC has (see my other review) yet in a slightly different package. The Sprint 14 is the Tourer of their range, it is of course narrower in profile, which requires extra balance for more proficient paddlers. I wanted to test this board purely to see if it handled as a faster board, and it’s safe to say it did!

How much better? Well, I took this bad boy to the Algarve in Portugal to give it a test on the Atlantic!

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Perfectly packaged, and 100% flight safe

We were staying right on the coast of the Algarve in Vilamoura, perfect location for paddleboarding..

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The board dims; 426.5cm x 77cm x 16cm (L x W x H)

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The Sprint really does ‘cut through waves but tracks well on flats’ as they state on their website. The double layer side rails are again reinforced with 500 denier PVC fabric & bonded with heat welding.

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Staying in the Marina was perfect. The ability to jump on the water was excellent. The Sprint absolutely chewed up the flat water in here. I was shocked by the pace I was getting out of it.

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I tested the board for about 3 solid days on the sea, both in the Marina and out on the open sea. As with the 10’8, very impressed by the overall package but more so impressed with the board this time. The speed I was getting was great, the step up from an all rounder was just what I personally needed and would suggest anyone thinking about taking that step to consider a 14 Sprint.

The board held really well on the open water, several times I was hit with waves from speed boats and rip boats, but it held up well (less stable than the 10’8 but expected due to it’s dimensions and size), however when hitting the waves head on the board cut through them with ease – a thigh workout for me but the board held up well.

I like the ‘Smart Lock Fin System’, there’s no loose metal parts, really simple to click into place and it secures the fin nicely. I’ve had tons of use up to now and it is still snug and tightly fits.

Obviously Bluefin has slapped on the GoPro mount – it’s almost a requirement nowadays, but it’s still something I value as a must have given what I do.

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After this trip I’d been solely using the 14 Sprint on the Canal system in Milton Keynes.

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The Grand Union Canal is a beauty for a flat paddle

The Sprint 14 is more than capable in most water conditions I’ve taken it into. Really impressed with it’s stability in choppy water, and how easy it was to ride the board off the bat. It’s a more advanced board so newcomers should look into a 10’8 / 12 before progressing to a longer tourer. RRP is £1299 but there are currently sales on the Bluefin site, click here to be directed.

As always you can find me on IG @darrens_visuals and @StandUpPaddleUK, feel free to contact us with any questions paddleboard related!

Happy Paddling!