Fanatic UK team rider and experienced waterwoman Lucy Robson talks all about girls and SUP, and why you should give it a go if you haven’t already. So come on girls… what are you waiting for!?
Initially, I think I was probably as reticent about SUPing as most other people when the sport first hit the mainstream. At the time I was extremely into windsurfing (which I still am, admittedly!) and had been a surfer since I was 18 years old, so I had a bit of a ‘surfer’s superiority’ complex about SUP. It’s generally understood (apparently!) that ‘if you can’t surf, then SUP’…
I have seen the attitude to SUPing completely change over the last 5 years, and with that change also the SUPers themselves. For my own part, since I moved to Fuerteventura, I am completely fixated with the sport and probably go SUPing every day. The most encouraging aspect of SUP, and attributable to its popularity, is its accessibility, and especially for girls. You do not have to be a super-star to paddle out into the line-up and enjoy the conditions. You do not have to be incredibly fit and strong and able to duck-dive substantial waves or fight to gain a spot on the peak. Within a few days of sampling the sport and getting to grips with the equipment and paddle technique, you can find yourself being able to enjoy wave conditions that can be elusive and unattainable through surfing.
I am sure that most girls at one point can identify with how hard surfing can be. The progression from a beginner’s board to a short board, and working through the frustration of trying to get into the perfect spot, paddling swiftly and quickly to gather pace with the wave and then in one precise movement being able to pop-up to your feet and not look down at the vertical face peering up from underneath you! I know all of this only too well! Over the years I have had numerous sessions struggling to paddle out to the back of the line-up on a surfboard, thinking the waves are too big and struggling to get to my feet in time, backing off at the last minute and getting launched over the falls. And then eventually just succumbing to getting washed in and walking defeated up the beach. Sometimes surfing can simply feel too hard and the rewards too small. I have never felt like this since I started SUPing.
I remember one of my first sessions with my boyfriend at Majanicho in Fuerteventura on a SUP. Previously I had just tried it on flat water, perhaps two or three times. And obviously I wanted to impress so I said I had been out in waves already. I hadn’t, but even though the surf was over head-high and fairly challenging, it wasn’t daunting at all. And the best part was I saw plenty of other smiling girls in the line-up taking just as many waves as the guys. This is why SUP is really such a great sport for girls. Anyone can do it. You just need confidence and enthusiasm.
The most obvious benefits of SUP are the sessions on the water that you will have. I know I am blessed to live in the Canaries and be able to paddle out every day on either gloriously mirror-flat water or out to perfect point breaks. But even in the UK, with a SUP, you are not reliant on perfection. You simply need to pick the right equipment for the places you are most likely to go, whether it is paddling out into surf to wave ride, or cruising up beautiful English rivers in the summertime. You can pick your playground.
Every day I am inspired by the female SUP scene both at home and abroad. Since I started seriously SUPing and progressing, one of the local girls that has most inspired me has been Sonni Honscheid from Fuerteventura. The girl is phenomenal. I have seen her paddle out in huge surf looking completely unfazed and out-doing most of the guys. When she’s not charging massive right-handers on the north shore, I’ve often also seen her paddling her distance board across Waikiki Bay looking utterly fluid. Away from Fuerteventura and in Hawaii there are also girls like Vanina Walsh who have an incredibly smooth style on the wave and are really inspiring. In fact, if you take a look around you, from your local spot to the international SUP tour, the level of standard of the girls is very high and getting more so as we get more dialled into our sport. It’s girls like Sonni and Vanina that remind me that you can be just as good as, and even better than the guys at SUP and being a girl is no obstacle. Arm yourself with the fitness and confidence to excel and exceed your potential.
I guess these are all things that I want to pass on to other girls and my daughter when I take her out paddling. Don’t be afraid and don’t accept limitations which you may feel just because you are a girl. The biggest fight is the psychological one. Incidentally, after not being on a surfboard for a few years now since I started SUPing, last time I tried I jumped straight to my feet without a worry in the world. Thing was, I just wanted to get straight back on my SUP!
Words by – Lucy Robson
Photos by – Stephen Gibson
SunSupGirls Camp 2014 in Fuerteventura.
This summer Lucy will be running 2 girls weeks out in Fuerteventura on the 30th Aug – 6th Sept 2014 and 13th Sept – 20th Sept 2014. It is a week designed specifically for girls who want to SUP and enjoy a healthy and fun week away in the sun! You’ll learn all the fundamentals of SUP and achieve the confidence to get on the water and master the basics, starting with flat-water paddling and then progressing into the waves.
Price – 500 Euros for the week includes;
SUP tour on the calm flat waters of the north of the island and introduction to waves.
B&B accommodation in luxury beach front house.
All equipment / airport transfers and daily transport to the beach.
Daily morning beach yoga by a qualified instructor.
3 evening meals and a night out!
Exclusive SunSupGirls / ION t-shirt and photo session to take your memories home.
Flights not included in price.
For more information and to book a place contact Lucy on – firstname.lastname@example.org