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How I SUP: My First SUP Experience

Jenny Buckley |

Looking back: A SUP Instructor’s first paddling memories

My first SUP experience was during a weekend away to Bala, Wales. In an area of outstanding natural beauty, Bala’s serene setting is probably what helped to make my first SUP experience so memorable.

I had previously never been very confident around watersports; being knocked unconscious during my first surfing experience definitely didn’t help! But something about the way the paddleboard floated peacefully, barely making a splash as the paddle entered the water, instantly drew me into the idyllic spectacle of paddleboarding.

First SUP Experiences

This experience was all the way back in 2017 when SUP was still in its early conception stages in the UK. Whereas, as an emerging sport in the USA back in the early 2000s, one of the first SUP clubs opened its doors relatively recently in 2010. Now fast forward to 2021, and there is barely a stretch of water that hasn’t had a SUP grace its shores or jetties in the UK. With the recent pandemic pathing the way for us all to spend more time outdoors, more and more people are increasingly finding love for the sport and investing in their own equipment as an avenue for exercise, fun and relaxation. 

As an ASI SUP instructor myself, I’m in a very fortunate position to get to play a large part in many people’s first SUP experiences. I enjoy being there when they first step onto the deck pad. The look of shock followed by smiles and laughing the first time they fall off. Watching a sunset and sharing a hot chocolate. The sore feet and knees from wobbling and balancing. Buying their first board and looking at it adoringly in the living room. Their first trip out with friends to a new stretch of water. The initial memories and special moments that everyone has with a paddleboard continue to amaze me. 

Fond Memories

For me personally, I’ll always remember my first SUP experience fondly. The wobbly legs, sore feet, sore arms, and discovering core muscles that had never been used before. That first fall into the water that we all dread, but know will inevitably come to all of us! The feel of the board on your bare feet. Hearing the water lap at the rails and the gentle splash as your paddle enters the water surface. Holding your breath without realising it because you’re concentrating so hard, only to breathe in at the wrong time as you topple off and inhale water. I remember the weather warming my skin, the smell of neoprene and suncream mixed with the aroma of dank water and pondweed.  

My first SUP experience and memories are still so fresh to me. Every time I look at the first board I owned, I’m reminded of those adventure-seeking feelings of carefree times and the start of my love affair with SUP.

By Alexandra Shankland BAJDHons MA RVN ASI SUP Instructor

A Special Bluefin Thanks! 

Thanks so much to Alex Shankland for this awesome blog. If you would like to contribute to our Paddler Blog, then please email us at

We look forward to hearing from you!