Chelmarsh Sailing Club is celebrating something of an unexpected boost this summer after seeing Stand Up Paddleboarding soar at the club.
The club, situated on the Chelmarsh Reservoir near Bridgnorth, has so far have delivered ‘introduction to paddleboarding’ courses to more than 200 people and had over 30 join as club members this year.
Having seen examples of other sailing clubs where SUP’ing had been a success, Chelmarsh wanted to give it a go. Thanks to a Sport England Small Grants award – with their application angled on opening up the reservoir to a different demographic – the club invested in 10 SUP boards to deliver courses while the club’s Vice Commodore, David Partridge, trained as a SUP instructor himself.
With the SUP’ers and sailors sharing the water in harmony, Chelmarsh SC believe the crossover will see interest in both activities grow on the water.
David said: “As a club we are very aware of staying relevant in a world where people’s leisure time is so precious. Like many clubs, we were finding people are looking for more social, flexible and less structured leisure activities. SUP’ping ticks these boxes and appeals to exactly the demographic we want to attract to sailing clubs.
“We’ve had paddleboarders who have seen our juniors sailing and then got their kids interested in sailing courses. Sailing is something they never thought about as they didn’t know the club was here or they thought sailing was too expensive. Raising local awareness of sailing through promoting SUP has been big for us.”
Chelmarsh SC is an RYA Training Centre meaning it conforms to the highest standards of quality and safety in sailing. To cater for people wishing to SUP, Chelmarsh set up an associate membership so paddleboarders get full use of the club and water, but don’t participate in sailing. They can, and do, do RYA sailing courses.
Because paddleboarders are part of the club, they contribute to club life and volunteer, with many of the SUP members being water safety experts who drive safety boats during sailing activities.
David added: “There’s been really positive crossover between the activities and there is now a real whole club ethos amongst the groups. We’re seeing people using the club even when they aren’t on the water SUP’ing or sailing, which is testament to how successful it’s been.”