Dorset-based paddler and owner of The SUP Store in Christchurch, Saviour Aquilina has recently reviewed the latest Red Paddle Co 10’6 Ride board. Here he tells TotalSUP why the board is a real crowd-pleaser, the best places to paddle in Dorset and why Stand Up Paddle is the sport that everyone should be doing.
You own the SUP Store in Christchurch, what inspired you to set up the business? What do you offer? What are your future plans?
I do, I also own Saviour Watersports which specializes in creating, caring and repairing your craft. Water is in my blood and paddleboarding is my passion. The SUP Store was established in 2009 and initially we were just a supplier to locals looking for 30″ race board. Now, it’s nearly 2022, the evolution of equipment has been mind blowing and SUP has become so accessible for everyone. We are so happy that there is an emergence of people enjoying the wonderful feeling of freedom and adventure in our sport.
At the SUP Store we are lucky, we have a great SUP hub based on the glorious River Avon, Christchurch, Dorset. We are not only a shop, we also run The SUP School, Saviour Watersports and of course we have coffee and cake for post training fuel and of course, just because you can! We currently stock Red Paddle Co, Starboard SUP, JP Australia, Gladiator, Aztron, Ocean Specific, Vaikobi, Sooruz and much more. We trust, love, and have tested most of our products and truly believe quality is key which is why we work with the companies that we do.
Future plans for the SUP Store, involve educating through experience, passion and knowledge, not only on equipment but also on the water. SUP is a sport, a lifestyle and a hobby not just a summer beach goers bit of fun – but that is a great place to start! In 2022, we believe SUP will grow again and as a eco-conscious company, we along with many other shops, will try and focus on providing the best quality products covering all price points and enlighten fellow SUP’ers that not all equipment is the same. We have also started a YouTube channel where we will be providing some raw videos of products including reviews, and SUP related content.
How do you view the SUP scene in Bournemouth? What are the best places to paddle? Is there something for everyone?
SUP in Bournemouth is at an all-time high, with an explosion of leisure paddling and a huge insurgent of touring and racing in the last year. It is a great place to live. We are on the South coast, so we have the English Channel to play in which often supplies decent swell when our local banks play the game. We also have Poole harbour which is Europe’s largest natural harbour and a stunning location. As well as this we have rivers and lakes, so whatever your skillset there is usually a place to enjoy our beautiful UK waters.
You stock Red Paddle Co. What’s good about these boards? How are they evolving? You recently reviewed the newest Ride model, what do you think of it?
Red Paddle Co, is our most sought-after brand. It’s not only one of the most famous boards on Earth but the Red products are original. Red Paddle Co really knows how to make and promote a product. With this brand it is quality, quality, quality, which reflects on their awesome warranty promise and great customer service. We recently reviewed the 10’6 RIDE in our own quirky way (ed. which you can view below). It was a flat calm day, with some small lines coming through which is exactly what we wanted. We always get asked is this an all-round board and it is. We completed a few pivot turns, played on some tiny rollers – which proved the fact that bumps can be caught on an iSUP. With the Red MSL construction this felt super sturdy under foot and with the easy and no faff fin arrangement as well as the new transformer bag this is definitely one of our favourite iSUPs.
What is your own training program like? What races have you completed?
I have a 20-month-old son, so family time has taken over my training schedule recently! I am lucky enough to be building my own gym at home, so in my mind in 2022 I am going to be hitting it hard! I have one target and one target only, to catch up with Paddlelogger Dave, who beat me in our local BAY SUP race in 2021, I need to settle that score! I love racing, training, and competitiveness. We are blessed in the South of the UK to have some of the best paddlers in the country who have taught me a lot. If there are no races I lose my reason to train. In 2019 pre-Covid, I finished 7th in my age categories in the GB SUP race series and 6th in the UK Sprint championships which I was very proud of and would love to achieve bigger and better in the future.
What advice would you give someone looking to start paddling?
I would say try out some friends boards, join your local SUP club, demo a few boards and see what you like. You don’t know it yet, but you will get addicted! Look at all SUP angles – surf, race, touring, downwind, foil and leisure. Most first-time buyers go for an all-round shape which is versatile for everything but not excellent at anything! Decide what you would like to do on a SUP and let that help you decide – we are always happy to help guide you and find the right board for you. It’s definitely a great time to be joining the sport and having your own board will give you the freedom and flexibility to train when and where you like.