The Severn Bore is one of Europe’s best tidal bores reaching sizes of 2.8 metres and attracting surfers from all over the world for a truly unique experience. The Bore runs through the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside and is perfect to attempt the ride using a SUP! Following a successful Bore-ing mission SUPboarder presents its top 10 tips for a successful Boring experience on your SUP.
Location, Location, Location…
There are several recommended launch spots that will give you best chance of riding the bore. These are explained in detail on the Severn bore website. For first attempts we recommend starting at Newnham, before attempting The Severn bore Inn, and finally Over Bridge (unless you can ride the full length….). These spots give you reasonable access and parking, but also a suitable amount of time to drive between spots keeping upstream of the wave if you do fall off.
Research access locations and bore times in detail, riding the Severn bore is all about chasing one wave along a river. It only comes once and therefore you don’t want to turn up late! Check out access points on Google Earth, get the time right via the dedicated Severn bore website , make sure you prepare all your gear in plenty of time and give yourself the chance to access the river via difficult vegetation covered banks with your SUP. Understand exactly where you are going to target catching the wave along the rivers length and ensure you have ample time to park, sort your gear and get on the river. A bore waits for no-one!
It is also very important that your paddling skills are good enough to take on the bore, the dangers associated with attempting the bore and not for beginners! You need to be competent at catching waves on a SUP and experienced enough to ensure you can deal with the fast flowing and disturbed water when exiting the river.
Carry a Phone
Being on a SUP means you have maximum chance of riding the wave for long periods of time, when you come off the wave, you may be miles from the road, your support crew or your fellow paddlers. Get a waterproof case and carry it inside your wetsuit so a lack communication doesn’t result in you missing the chance of catching the next location or force you into a long walk through a Gloucestershire field.
Cover those toes up
Its highly recommended to wear a pair of wetsuit boots when surfing the bore even if its warm and sunny. Access points to the river can be through nettle covered banks, and there is lots of debris in the river. Accessing the river involves walking through sticky mud at points, and there is no way of knowing what lies below. You have been warned!
Charlie Grey Paddling the Bore in March 2012
Check the depth to pick your take off point
A great advantage to riding the Bore on your SUP is you can use your paddle as a depth measure. The rivers depth changes considerably and in places the bore will be very tricky to catch as the depth will stop the wave peaking. If its over a paddle depth on a 3 star bore, you will find it hard to catch or it might just pass under you unnoticed. Remember, you have one chance to get on this wave, so make sure your in the right spot!
Choose the right gear
Make sure you are on a suitable board – the longer it is the better it will be for long rides. You can catch the shoulder on a smaller surf style SUP, but rides will be shorter and success rates lower. We rode a 3 Star bore on 9 foot hard boards as well as 10’6 and 12’6 inflatables. They all worked well, but longer race boards got longer rides, but less time on the shoulder.
Remember, most bores are busy, so the chances of you getting on the shoulder are slim, pick your board to reflect this on your first bore outing and enjoy the ultimate party wave.
The Ultimate Party Wave!
Take care when exiting the river
When you launch to ride the bore there will be very little moving water…. A tidal bore is essentially the tide coming in VERY quickly and as a result following the bore passing there will be a large amount of water moving. This makes exiting the river a much more challenging experience as the water is running very fast. Take care, drop to your knees for more stability and approach you landing spot slowly getting your board parallel to the shore. Know the location of your leash so you can release it if your board gets carried away and puts you in danger.
Use suitable river SUP safety gear
River surfing presents many more dangers – increased debris, overhanging trees and rocks just to name a few. Fast flowing water and debris can be a dangerous mix and you should consider using a quick release leash, or at least using a knee leash to allow you to disconnect from your board in fast flowing water. It is also worth considering a paddle leash as well to keep hold of your valuable carbon….
The bore can be up to 15 minutes before or after the predicted times, so arrive to your spot early to ensure you don’t just watch it pass by. Hanging out on a river with a surfboard is a strange experience, but you will look really stupid paddling out if its already passed….
A bridge over troubled water..
The bore passes under several bridges along the route. Not only do these bridges create deeper water where the wave will mellow requiring you to paddle hard to stay in front of the bore, but bridges can cause some unique turbulence in the river. If you are lucky enough to be able to ride under a bridge, give the structure a wide berth to avoid a fight with concrete!
So what are you waiting for? Try a unique surfing experience and try SUPing the Severn Bore!
Here’s what some of the UKs top SUP bore-ers have to say about their experience;
Paul Simmons, Starboard UK SUP team – “Big Board = long ride… Watch out for massive branches and even full on floating trees. Have an exit plan & carry a phone. Night bore can be fun but easy to get lost back ashore and end up wandering dark country lanes carrying a 12′ board, which tends to baffle oncoming motorists”
Charlie Grey, Charlie Grey Designs – “Bore waves are an amazing natural phenomenon. I have surfed the severn bore many times and In 2010 i was lucky enough to score the largest bore wave in 8 years.
The anticipation is huge and not knowing quite what will happen when the wave reaches you only adds to it. While they can be great fun with long rides of over 10 minuites possible on a good day they are also extremely dangerous. – With the water rising so fast going from effectively low to high tide in the space of just a few minutes and with a large amount of debris in the water along with over hanging trees and roots huge care must be taken as getting entrapped can be a huge risk with significant consequences and not advised for a beginner.”
Watch out for a detailed feature on the top tips on the best Bor-ing locations coming soon!