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Bluefin SUP safety training – Paddle Start Award

Jenny Buckley |

You might not be too surprised to know that a few of us here at Bluefin are SUPboarding enthusiasts – taking to the nearest river, reservoir or coastal spot whenever we can, to indulge in a bit of paddling.  What you might actually find surprising though is the level of commitment Bluefin staff show to SUP Safety, ensuring that everyone knows how to stay safe. 

At the start of the year, we set a goal as a business for everyone, regardless of SUPing experience or ability to undergo a basic level of training to show our understanding and appreciation of the sport as well as respect for the water. Fast forward five months and cue 28 intrepid Bluefiners leaving the comfy confines of Hebden Bridge and descending on Leeds Dock to complete the Paddle Start Award!

What is the Paddle Start Award?

It’s an award set by British Canoeing and carried out by qualified instructors to give paddlers a grounding in the fundamentals of paddlesports. It covers all the essentials, from practical skills to theory and even the option to try a rescue manoeuvre for anyone feeling particularly brave!

What exactly does the course cover? 

The one day course has five elements which are explained in a bit more detail below: 

  • Clothing and equipment

The aim of this is understanding the importance of having the correct gear before you set off on any venture. This includes making sure you have the right buoyancy aid or personal flotation device (and that it’s fitted properly!) Another crucial element is knowing your equipment inside out, the difference between paddles for example and knowing how to select the right one.

  • Getting on the water

This is all about sussing out whether help is needed to carry your board and accessories and looking for the safest approach onto the water. 

  • On the water

Now you’re ready to go, this element shows how to access your surroundings and how to stay in control. Crucial things to think about include the water –  is it moving fast or slow? Is there wildlife around? And how to stay in control of your paddleboard – do you know how to stop? Change direction? 

  • After the session

This one is something to think about after your paddle boarding session and provides an opportunity to revisit any of the above and consider key takeaways learned that day.

  • Future development

Finally, this is about thinking ahead and how to further the skills you’ve learned. This could be anything from joining a club or even moving onto the next award if you’re keen to develop your skills. 

How did Team Bluefin fare on the day?

Well, everyone made it through the day, despite a few fall-ins! It was a great opportunity to spend some time out of the office, bond with colleagues we rarely get to see due to conflicting schedules and of course a chance to check out the fab facilities for paddleboarding at Leeds Dock.

The day ended with a friendly, but fairly competitive game of SUP Polo, which may or may not have been *cough* totally fair. Suffice to say, the day was a huge hit with staff and well worth everybody’s time. It’s a fantastic feeling knowing that everyone at Bluefin is now suitably trained in SUP and only serves as testament to the dedication the team put into knowing their craft.

A massive thanks to Dean & Amy from Leeds Dock Paddlesports for leading the session.

For more info about the Paddle Start Award visit British Canoeing Paddle Awards.