What's SUP, Cal?
SUP, or stand-up paddleboarding, is basically just balancing on a glorified, enormous surfboard, with a single-ended paddle, and propelling yourself along! There are lots of disciplines within the world of SUP, but my favourite by far is expedition paddling and exploring.
My SUP is 12-foot long, and I can strap all my camping gear to the front and head off on an ocean adventure to places I otherwise wouldn’t be able to access. It’s a little different to kayaking in that on a SUP you’re really vulnerable to the wind, as there’s only a fin anchoring you in the water. But I love the sense of freedom that comes with standing tall above the water.
Standing up also gives you a vantage point that you don’t get from a kayak, enabling you to see the underwater world unfold beneath you as you paddle along. In the UK I’ve seen kelp forests, lobsters, seals, crabs and all sorts of jellyfish underneath my board as I’ve paddled along. It’s a truly magical way to experience the ocean.
Although I’d been surfing since a teenager, I first properly fell in love with the ocean when I was 18 and learned to scuba dive in Australia, on the Great Barrier Reef. I was mesmerised by the underwater world, blown away by the peace and joy I felt at being there. I was fascinated by the ecosystems and organisms living there, and knew from then on I wanted to dedicate my life to protecting the oceans.
Since then I spent every minute I could learning about the creatures underwater, surfing, wakeboarding, scuba diving, sea swimming - everything I could to be near or in the water. It was the place I came alive.