Sonja Jones, a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer and Board Member for Canoe Wales, sets off today on a mission to circumnavigate the three islands of Malta as part of a team of four. With winds reaching 30 knots right now, and waves currently several feet high, this isn’t just a quiet paddle in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
If there’s a sport that captures this year’s zeitgeist, it’s standup paddle boarding (SUP). Everyone has been keen to get in on the act, with Orlando Bloom paddleboarding naked, Bill Bailey appearing in the Guardian discussing his love of SUP on the Thames, and even Countryfile and Waitrose magazine featuring SUP. And there are a number of reasons why SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the UK and the world right now:
1. It’s accessible. Anyone; young, old, able, less abled are able to get on a board and paddle.
2. All you need is water. Unlike most other board sports, you can SUP 24/7. Admittedly some conditions are better than others; sun drenched waters and light winds are particularly appealing. But SUP is independent of waves or wind. Although there are speciality boards for racing, or for expeditions, or for surfing, or for riding river rapids, a single all-purpose board can do all of this reasonably well. And you can SUP anywhere; river, lake, sea or canal. So there will always be somewhere to SUP within a few miles.
So to demonstrate just how accessible SUP is, four watersports enthusiasts have just set off on an epic expedition to circumnavigate the three islands of Malta. One of the four, Sonja Jones, has Multiple Sclerosis, and is using the expedition as a way of retraining her body in her daily battles with her condition.
The other expedition partners are Chris Brain, Georgina Maxwell and Matt Haydock, all of whom are outdoor activities and watersports instructors with many years of experience of training others to respect and enjoy the water environment safely. The other experience they share, or rather lack of experience, is that none of them have ever been on a SUP expedition.
McConksUK, one of the expeditions sponsors, will be sharing regular updates of the team’s progress on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using #MalteseSUPProject. Follow @McConksUK to make sure you get updates in your timeline.
Andy McConkey, Director of McConks said:
“Paddling the Mediterranean in November isn’t as easy as people might imagine, and is possibly more difficult than the team themselves realise. A full circumnavigation would be a challenge for experienced SUP riders. If this team can achieve it, it really demonstrates how accessible SUP Fingers crossed for a safe trip!”