It was a sunny morning, and my mother and I parked up at Coppet Hall in the overflow car park, excited for our first paddleboarding experience. Barefoot and clutching our wetsuits, we waved at our friends and headed towards the paddleboarding centre.


A flurry of activity ensued as we donned wetsuits, took photos, made fun of each other and laughed hysterically, earning ourselves the title ‘Giggly Four’. The sun was out and we all dutifully applied sun cream, before lining up in our comfortable group of seven.


We had booked a lesson, and our friendly instructor Sioned gave us a pre-sea tutorial on keeping the paddle upright, which way round it ought to go, how to turn, etc. Ever the teacher’s pet, I was keen to prove that I had listened and was itching to set off to shore.



We collected our big inflatable boards and started down the beach. We had chosen a windy, choppy day, and the boards acted like sails as we walked. Rather than striding down the beach in slow motion as terribly cool, water-sports people, we battled our way down comically and inelegantly. My friend and I ran to help our mothers, who looked decidedly dishevelled.


The sea was surprisingly warm, unnervingly choppy and absolutely full of swimmers. Once we were deep enough, we let our boards float, as we didn’t want to damage the fins on the underside. It was time to get stuck in! We all clambered onto our boards and started off on our knees, getting used to the stroke of the paddle and distributing our weight. The wind determinedly pushed us towards the shore, so it took great heaves of the paddle to make our way out.


I honestly don’t know how the instructors keep their cool. We all managed to drift and disperse as we flailed around, finding our rhythm. One of us got shoved towards some rocks, another was pushed to shore. I thought I had seen someone I knew on a dinghy, so I had broken from the group sort of by accident. Sioned shouted instructions to turn on the spot, so I heaved my paddle around with some difficulty, buffeted by wind and lapped at by waves.



Some summers ago, a pair of my friends had gone out paddleboarding while I worked booking boat trips. I watched them effortlessly glide across the horizon, serene and competent, standing up with ease. When Sioned deemed it time for us to stand, there was none of the serenity I expected. I wobbled upwards and found myself shuffling my feet unsteadily into the centre. In order to hold the paddle correctly, my arms crossed my body and shifted my balance. Kersploosh! I was the first in the sea and popped up again, fiercely gripping my paddle. Rather than being deterred, though, I felt a huge grin cross my face and determination set in. I think I’d better try that again!


Hilarity continued as we did our very best to contend with the conditions. It was enormously rewarding to find yourself standing up long enough to feel your skin dry. On the other hand, it was deliciously refreshing once you fell in again!


The lesson was the perfect amount of time. By the final ten minutes, we felt exhausted and invigorated, and took a little time sitting astride the board with our feet dangling in the sea. It felt like the perfect, contemplative end to an active session. I found myself musing over the countless benefits of paddleboarding; a real all-rounder for physical and mental health.


I would absolutely recommend an inflatable board if you’re interested to try paddleboarding. The sea was strewn with Finla boards, all with striking colours, great designs and excellent quality materials. Check them out here.