As the nights draw in, kids head back to school, and we look to take ourselves slowly back to the office, the surreal summer of 2020 draws to close. 

Got board, will paddle.

A couple of months ago, kayak and paddleboard sales began to skyrocket, as the nation prepared for a socially distanced summer, meaning that equipment is now in the hands of many who have limited or zero experience in the water. Unlike other forms of entertainment, the outdoors is never closed, and whilst it’s great that more people will enjoy all of the benefits of paddleboarding as a result, the need for sound safety advice has never been more important, with many paddlers not having the right training, safety equipment or licences to use our rivers and canals. 

Whilst inexperienced paddlers are prone to falling off or getting swept out to sea, and a sharp rise in recuse by air and boat crews has been reported by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and HM Coastguard. Nationally, Coastguards have been dealing with 10-12 paddleboarding rescues per day since lockdown eased, with hundreds more incidents being dealt with by lifeguards and members of the public.

Putting safety first. Always.

Owning a paddleboard and being a competent paddler are two completely different things. The Water Skills Academy was founded on a desire to equip paddlers with the skills they need to stay safe and progress in the water through our comprehensive qualifications, workshops, schools/centre accreditation, mentoring and consultancy across the disciplines of SUP, surfing, lifeguarding, sit on top kayaking and coasteering.

Over the years, through the many different ways we have accessed the ocean, open water and rivers we have learnt our trade from lots of different sources and sharing our knowledge is one of our goals. For those who wish to start coaching we aim to equip you with the skills in your chosen discipline to run sessions safely and informatively for both the public and friends or family.

Through a series of informative and accessible webinars, Water Skills Academy aired a wealth of free safety, skill and inspirational zoom sessions during lockdown from paddlesports’ most experienced professional lads and ladies. From Sian Sykes’ Solo SUP Around Wales, to SUP Safety and Foiling Insights – there was something on offer for all abilities and interests. If you missed them, you can catch up on all of them, over on our YouTube channel

Bringing a new topic to screens weekly, and issuing regular email updates we became a reliable resource for many who were looking for accurate information amongst the confusion over local recreational activity rules, once lockdown began to ease. 

Be better.

If paddling is new to you, then you can develop your enjoyment through a number of courses run by Water Skills Academy, wherever you are based in the UK. Our i SUP SMART Workshop was borne out of the need for sound safety advice for some many novice paddlers that emerged wanting to have a go on the water post-lockdown.

If you’ve decided that now is the time to take your paddleboarding passion to a professional level, then our comprehensive range of paddlesport instructor courses will help lead you through this pathway. 

Don’t be rubbish.

Whilst we were all waiting patiently indoors, our beach environment was benefiting from less people leaving behind their plastic pollution. Once we had raced outside to enjoy the UK coastline and rivers, it came at a huge cost to our marine environment. Littering of beaches and waterways was witnessed at unprecedented levels, as take-away services served up in single-use plastic containers and people failed to take their litter home with them.

Respecting our environment is a fundamental aspect of our work, and protecting it from environmental threat is something we are hugely passionate about. Our WSA Ambassadors work hard to continually raise awareness of plastic pollution through their work, with the latest #PADDLEAGAINSTPLASTIC campaign expedition by Cal Major down the River Severn will take place between 9th – 16th September. 

Join our family.

Ensure you and your family are always at the forefront of paddlesport safety by joining one of paddlesports leading organisations. Water Skills Academy membership starts from just £30 for recreational membership, which includes unrivalled worldwide insurance, Canal & Rivers Trust Licence, personal accident cover, and 1% of your membership funds real action in saving our waterways, oceans and environment through our 1% For The Planet membership.

Safe safe.

If you are heading out on a paddleboard this weekend, be sure to check the forecast and tide times. With many lifeguard patrols ending this weekend, it is even more important to be safety conscious. Attach the board leash, take a mobile phone in a waterproof case, and paddle in company if you can. If you can’t, make sure you let someone know where you plan to paddle to and your expected time of return.