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  • Writer's pictureThe Paddler

Looking back at 2021

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

After the relative turmoil of 2020, things returned to kind of normal for us in 2021. As soon as lockdown restrictions lifted at the end of March we were back enjoying our idyllic stretch of the Thames, and were able to operate right up to early November when grim weather slowed things down a little (although we're open right throughout the winter of course). Amazingly, over 2000 people paddled with us this year, and for most of them it was their first time on a paddleboard. Our youngest customer was 5 – and the oldest 83!

A few highlights:

We expanded our coaching team, with Noemie and Suzanne joining us – and getting amazing feedback.

We also welcomed back our pontoon assistants – Ella, Harry, Saskia, Constance, Roman, Matilda and Callum who all helped things to run smoothly both on and off the water during the busy summer months. A few of them have been working towards their coaching qualifications with us, so expect to see them on the water with you next year.

After taking a break in 2020 due to the pandemic our Corporate Team building days were back at full strength, with numerous teams from businesses like Barclays Bank to small local businesses enjoying the river together. For many this was the first time they’ve got together since the start of “working from home”.

And Get on Board, our mass plastic pick-up event run in conjunction with Be Richmond, was back. Over 100 intrepid paddlers picked up plastic from the riverbanks. The fleet set off from Kew Bridge and rode the tide to River Lane in Petersham, before enjoying drinks and delicious food from sponsor Gaucho.

We also ran numerous mini-expeditions – from our popular Hampton Court to Richmond trip, to the near-jungle experience of our Three Rivers Adventure. And some of us paddled even further afield – down the Menai Straits, along the south Cornwall coast, down the 100 miles of the Wye River, and across Lake Windermere. Not to mention Mark braving the dolphins, elephant seals, orca and penguins that have impeded his paddling around the Falkland Islands. Keep an eye out for these stories in future blogs!

We lost our pontoon base in June (away for repairs) so moved into new accommodation in an arch under Richmond Bridge which we share with Mark Edwards and his team of traditional wooden boatbuilders.

And finally, we started a social club for local paddlers - SUP Club Richmond. The club usually paddles on Thursday evenings, normally stopping for refreshments at one of the lovely riverside pubs. Most club members have their own boards, although we are happy to rent boards to those who don’t have their own. Come and join us in 2022!

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