Last autumn SUPboarder attended the first SUP and SURF conference hosted by the Water Skills Academy at the Cardiff International White Water Centre. Our afternoon was spent getting an appreciation of how differently able paddlers can be helped into SUP.
The session lead by Dan Wilmore was split into two, a lesson in the classroom introducing us to the wide range of conditions that SUP can help and a practical session on the water. After his introduction, an inspiring description of how SUP can make a huge difference to people’s lives, he set us a challenge; a spelling test with a difference, stood on a balance board on an inflatable cushion while catching a tennis ball. Harder than it sounds and a good demonstration of how people can get frustrated and disorientated under pressure. And very funny for those watching.
This ice breaker was then followed with a short PowerPoint presentation, what conference would be complete without PowerPoint! That included this slide, reproduced with Dan’s permission, showing how SUP can benefit all.
These benefits apply equal to all paddlers, but for some they are much harder to achieve particularly for some of the paddlers that Dan works with. His explanations of how problems can be overcome shone a light on the work he, and others do.
The classroom session was then followed by a practical example of how many of us take things for granted. Back into wetsuits and outside to the pool beside the course when one volunteer was taken through their first taste of a SUP. Sounds easy but when the volunteer was wearing goggles acting as a very effective blindfold it became a lot more challenging. So much so that the first team managed to get their paddler facing the tail of the board.
Many lessons learned.
We’ve featured Dan before on SUPboarder, his Different Strokes article was published in December 2014. Reading his words was one thing but getting a little experience of what it’s like to coach and be coached (I tried the goggles) made his words all the more real.
Ben Longhurst from WSA sums up the conference:
“Overwhelmed would be one word to describe the amount of people and the feedback we have received taking part and following the conference.
The original idea of a coach’s only conference morphed into any paddler with experience and those with an interest to learn due to the high number of requests we received to take part.
Each workshop was maxed out both morning and afternoon and once again feedback was amazing. The workshops SUP Fit, Technique, White Water Safety and paddling with Differently Abled all seemed to hit the spot and enthuse individuals.
Feedback was a resounding YES to an annual event and a YES to the venue. Thank you to everyone who attended, to all the WSA coaching team, Palm Equipment for the goodies and to Cardiff International White Water for the venue.
A huge thank you to Red Paddle co, Starboard, Oshea, Fanatic, Blue Wave, BIC, C4 and Palm Equipment for supporting the event.”
WSA provides training and coach education in SUP, Surf, Coasteering and Sit on Top’s, to find out more check out www.waterskillsacademy.com
The conference was a resounding success as was the race day that followed with the crowning of the King and Queen of Cardiff Bay. WSA are in the process of organising the 2016 event this year, keep an eye on SUPboarder for details.
Words and images : Chris Jones