September SUP advenure... from Sennen to Torquay
- Credit: Archant
Land’s End: our most south-westerly point, where the tidal stream that wraps around our island nation is split by a spearhead.
With the Atlantic stream torn in two, it can produce a ferocious swell that bubbles and boils in all directions.
This is where I wanted to start a non-stop stand up paddle board (SUP) challenge back to Torquay - a 300km trip when following the coast.
I wanted to undertake such an adventure to support the charity Above Water in its quest to educate SUP paddlers for free in water safety and drowning prevention.
In a world of daily requests for support and donation, I wanted to make the challenge as hard as possible, so I opted to do it non-stop in daylight hours and paddle a big and very slow rescue SUP.
I could complete the challenge on a sleek race board but I wanted to paddle a board more like the ones beginners would use. My board was soon nicknamed ‘Barn door Bernard’ - it could handle the biggest swell without drama but he was slow... very slow!
Thankfully, I had another adventurous paddler to join me.
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Noah Hindley has been in the salt water all his life, surfer, lifeguard and surf life saver, he would be a tremendous addition to the challenge.
We set off in perfect conditions from Sennen harbour. Paddling under the granite cliffs of Land’s End, such an iconic coastal landmark, was to be a real highlight of the trip.
Even with the tide and weather on our side, the Atlantic swell was large enough to occasionally lose sight of Noah in between wave peaks and troughs.
With the prehistoric shapes of moulded granite towering above, it even felt as if we might see dragons nesting in the isolated cliff tops.
Although the distance along the coast from Sennen to Torquay is approximately 300km, by cutting across bays we could bring the distance down to around 240km.
This requires greater experience as paddling miles out to sea is only advised if your skill level and weather support such a route.
Starting on a Thursday, it made sense that we should be finishing on Sunday night but this would mean Bernard, my board, would have to cover a massive 60km a day.
Bernard can only average around 5km per hour and there are only 12 hours of daylight at this time of year, so we would really have to be paddling non-stop to achieve our 60km daily goal.
We paddled hard for 12 hours each day only catching glimpses of our wonderful south coast landmarks, St Michael’s Mount, Falmouth, Looe Island, Start Point to name but a few.
We experienced the best and worst of paddling conditions throughout the trip with Mother Nature always waiting to remind us who was in charge.
When the next paddle stroke just seemed too hard, our stunning marine wildlife made all the difference. Seals, dolphins and tuna became daily visitors to our challenge, putting our endeavours into perspective, as did the occasional large shadow cruising under our boards...!
We completed the challenge in three days and 11 hours - or around 84,000 paddle strokes - returning to a joyous welcome on Sunday evening at Torre Abbey Sands.
Despite some aching shoulders and sore feet, the highlights for me? Land’s End, of course, but also Charlestown, Start Bay and the many pods of curious dolphins.
But above all, rounding Berry Head to see our amazing Torbay - the gem in the south coast of Devon and Cornwall – was the real crowning moment.
It is a gem I’m proud to call my home.
If you would like to sponsor Brendon and Noah for their Sennen to Torquay SUP challenge, log on to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brendonprincesup