27th April 2022

Expert paddlers share their top tips ahead of #ShePaddles

Written by Nicola Forsyth

Ahead of #ShePaddles, a specialist paddlesports weekend aimed at encouraging more women and girls to take up and progress in paddlesports on 7th and 8th May, we asked a number of female paddlers to share their top tips for beginners.

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During the last few years we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people taking up paddlesports – be it canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding (SUP). 

Since the first lockdown (March 2020), almost a third (32%) of Brits tried a new outdoor activity for the first time – with kayaking being near the top of the list, according to our   research – and men and women were just as likely to try something new. 

To celebrate and encourage more women and girls to get into paddlesports, we’re hosting our very first #ShePaddles event, together with Canoe Wales, at our base in the heart of Snowdonia. Taking place on 7th and 8th May, specialist paddlesport weekend for women is an initiative that aims to inspire and encourage more women and girls into paddlesports – from beginners to those looking to become professional paddlers.  

Featuring a number of workshops from leading coaches including Lowri Davies, Lina Patel, Emily Evans and Lizzie Harrington as well as evening entertainment and gin tasting from Aber Falls, it promises to be a great way to learn new skills while building new friendships and paddling communities along the way. We hope to see you there and be a part of your journey. Tickets are £60 per day – or £110 for both days, you can book at https://pyb.co.uk/courses/shepaddles/ 

Ahead of the event, we asked some expert paddlers to share their top tips.

Emily Evans, SUP and Raft Racer and Paddling Coach 

  1. Make sure that you acquire a board and paddle that suits your size, this will make your paddling experience the best it can be and make sure that you are not straining your body, leaving you feeling fresh to head out again and again. 
  2. If or when you take the time to get some lessons then do some research into your centre/ club or coaches, make sure you know a bit about them, where and how they operate. 
  3. It is important to dress appropriately, you are more likely to have a better experience in the colder months and definitely a safer one. Look into the different types of clothing that are suitable for the type of SUP activity you are going to be doing. 
  4. Strength and stretching: Take some time to look after your paddling muscles, they will thank you for it. You can make your paddling experience better by working on some balance exercises and leg strength. Also work on keeping the strength and suppleness in your hands, arms and shoulders.
  5. Get familiar with the weather in your local paddling area, knowing this is crucial to staying safe. If you are coastal it might be worth taking a coastal navigation course to understand the tides and weathers in your area. If you are ever unsure, best not to head out and save it for a good calm day.

Sarah Keight (Paddling Coach and lecturer in Outdoor Leadership) 

  1. Try to get comfortable with the water you will be paddling on. Practice falling out. Once you have fallen in, often people realise it is not that bad and they can then relax and try new techniques.
  2. It can take a while to find a paddling group that works for you. There are many paddlers that are active on social media that you could arrange to paddle with. However, confidence can take a long time to build and can be lost in a split second. Beforehand, try and encourage honesty and transparency to check everyone has similar expectations of the day, the abilities within the group and the environment you are going into. That way everyone can finish having had a positive experience. If you’re not happy doing something, do speak out.
  3. My energy levels can plummet when I am paddling, which can lead to unnecessary mistakes. Take some tasty snacks and have them to hand.

There’s an overwhelming sense that a community of like minded people to learn from and to share your journey with makes those first steps into this amazing, varied world of paddling safer and more positive, hope to see you there!