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How I SUP – Bluefin’s Founder Will

Jenny Buckley |

How I SUP is a series devoted to getting to know our SUP community and how we use our paddleboards. Don’t get too literal on us, there is more than one way to paddle! We’ll hear about how people got into the sport in the first place along with what makes them stick with it in all kinds of weather and despite various personal challenges. Hopefully everyone will find a little inspiration or at least something to relate to in this fast and fun series. If you’d like to chip in with your two pence drop a line to

How did you get started with SUP?

I had always had an interest in paddleboards and the first time I saw someone on a SUP I knew I had to try. I didn’t get to SUP regularly until I moved back north after Uni and that’s when I really got into it. When we started Bluefin, our first big product line was the kayaks but our goal was always to produce our own SUP.  Once we got started with research & design I was basically building a board for myself. Living so close to all these waterways is handy because every time you go for a drive, you notice a new place to take your board.

Tell us about your perfect day of paddling.

So the perfect day of paddling would probably look a lot like the OPP’s (Office Paddling Parties) we have on weekends in summer.  I can’t get anyone in customer service on a SUP in winter, so when we all go as a one big group it’s got to be fairly warm. I personally enjoy going out on the boards with the dogs too. It’s way more fun with loads of people and we usually horse around and someone ends up getting pushed in.

On a perfect day the weather would be above 20 and we’d get to a calm paddle spot early afternoon. There are some really remote, cool places to go in this area so we bring food and ideally a healthy supply of beer. We bring a board each from the store room and get some time in on the water, some of us are more athletic than others so what people get out of our trips varies. That’s one of the best things about the sport, you can be completely sedentary and still have fun with friends who are more fit than you especially if you’re paddling a route that requires the faster people to double back.

What’s the number 1 reason you keep SUPing?

Hmmm, maybe because no one in the office wants to play rugby? Hahahaha, just kidding.  I keep doing it because I love it. I’ve always taken fitness seriously and I also love to be outside so with SUP the two go hand in hand really.

When I was at school my main idea of fun was riding motorbikes but after I did my foot in I stopped riding. A lot of physical activities put strain and impact on your lower body and this can be a problem for my old foot injury. With paddleboarding that has never been an issue, even in rough water with some bounce.

Basically I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s a good way to spend time outside while getting some fitness in and spending time with your friends.

What do you look for in an inflatable paddleboard?

I could write a book on this. I’m lucky because everything I want in a SUP I put in our boards. We’ve gone through quite a few design cycles now and the updated boards we’ll be releasing in Spring 2019 are pretty well perfect.

  • Length & Width – I’m over 6’ tall so I look for a board that’s around 12’ long and 30” wide if I’m just going out for fun. That length is still ok to maneuver in the canals and a 30” deck width gives me plenty of stability.
  • Inflatable – I personally prefer inflatable boards over hard the reason being they are so much more practical. You can easily chuck them in the boot of the car rolled up or in their bag and head for a day at the coast or anyplace else.
  • Deck pad – The deck pad is also an important detail to me. I like a grid pattern that has a good, grippy surface along with a material that is soft enough to stand comfortably on. A little kick pad at the end is a great feature, it helps let you know where the end of the board is and makes pivot turns feel easier.
  • Shape – The shape of the board really has a huge effect on how much fun it is to paddle. If the rocker is trimmed correctly and the side rails are tapered properly it makes the difference between easily paddling straight or having a frustrating, wonky ride.

What do you think most people would find surprising about SUP?

Owning a SUP company, I obviously make everyone I know go out on a board at least once. Of all the people I’ve taken out, there hasn’t been even one that didn’t look like they were having fun. I don’t think they were faking it, it’s hard to pretend when you’re figuring out how to stand up out on the water. Even people who struggled at first or had to kneel the whole time clearly had fun.

I don’t think there are many other activities you could say pretty well everyone enjoys.

Do you Cross Train with SUP?

I like to lift heavy and I spend a lot of time in the gym. I also do a little cross fit and some spinning. I mainly focus on strength and hypertrophy and SUP compliments both of these really well.  Have you ever looked at a professional SUP racer’s upper body? They are all shredded the same as professional rowers are.

What are your thoughts on cold weather SUP?

My thoughts are that I like cold weather SUP as long as it isn’t raining. SUP in the snow is ace but you have to be prepared with the right kit or it is dangerous. If you take the time to prepare yourself and you are already skilled with stand up paddling, I definitely recommend cold weather SUP.  Most of the year is cold here so it’s a shame to cut out so many opportunities to be on the water which is what people do if they never try winter SUP.

What’s the perfect après–SUP snack?

There is a lot of talk of food in this office isn’t there. After I’ve been out paddling there are two things on my mind: chicken on a stick and Fanta Zero. Does that sound gross? It’s the best snack ever. I could have 30 of each every single day.