Brendon Prince, founder of the Above Water charity, writes for the Torbay Weekly:
Monday was a warm but blustery afternoon and our calm waters were turning to chop.
On my daily paddle, I stopped to speak with a fellow SUP boarder who was paddling out to our iconic, natural arch: London Bridge.
The chop was too much for this paddler, so she paddled on her knees - a very sensible and productive way to paddle if conditions go beyond your ability level. I was, however, concerned for her safety.
The reason for my concern?
She was paddling with her board AND paddle the wrong way around, had no leash, no buoyancy aid and was wearing just a swimsuit.
With almost half-a-mile to paddle before a safe water exit could be achieved, I offered a little support.
Inside, I was massively concerned that someone could put themselves at such risk without the right equipment or experience.
Fortunately, she was very happy to listen, admitting that her excitement for paddling had got the better of her.
Talking to this new SUP owner highlighted how hard it is to try and get a lesson under current Covid-19 restrictions.
No water safety guidance or instruction were offered when she purchased her SUP only days earlier.
This got me thinking about how I could offer greater support for those new to accessing the water - and lead by example.
At this point my adventurous spirit took over! I came up with a plan.
I have decided to take on a SUP challenge - from Sennen, on the north coast of Cornwall, around Land’s End and back to Torbay. A paddle of approximately 250-300km. It’s not a race but will be a non-stop paddle.
I will only land to get water and catch a few hours’ sleep on the beach – on my board! The paddle will model good practice, with the intention of encouraging potential water users and highlighting water safety.
Venturing more than 50 metres from the coastline obviously requires extra precautions to be in place.
To model safe practice, I shall use an appropriate board and paddle for the conditions, a leash and personal floatation device at all times, I will carry a phone and VHF radio.
My daily route will be shared with the coastguard and a ground crew ‘shadowing’ me will have an eye to the ever-changing maritime conditions ahead of each paddle stroke.
I shall be accepting donations for the charity Above Water, the water safety through education charity, that is putting free online tutorials and interactive training together for all water users, including the SUP community.
We need £10,000 to make this happen. To encourage donations, local company Ocean Monkeys paddle boards are kindly offering a brand new SUP as a prize! All you need to do is visit my Just Giving page (link below), donate what you can and leave your guess in the comment, in days, hours, minutes and seconds.
Like my knee paddling friend, we all want to live to paddle another day. I hope my paddle inspires others to get out there safely.
Please support in any way you can - by a donation or sharing the message of water safety. Thank you.
• Brendon’s Sennen to Torquay non-stop paddle will start on Thursday, September 10, (weather permitting) – guess how long it will take him to win a paddle board from Ocean Monkeys. Follow his adventure via his and Above Water’s social media channels. Donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BrendonPrinceSUP