Explore South Devon by SUP with Starboard Team Rider Holly Pye

With a stunning coastline and a home to the UK’s most iconic SUP race, Head of the Dart, South Devon is the perfect backdrop for the SUP-powered adventures. Turquoise waters, scenic sheltered bays and dramatic landscapes of heather covered moors amount to an area of exceptional beauty inspiring, now even stronger than ever, wanderlust. TotalSUP caught up with Starboard Team Rider and one of the UK’s top female SUP athletes, Holly Pye, to chat about her paddleboarding playground.

Photo: Christie at Brahma Studios / Courtesy of Holly Pye

Hi Holly! How have you been holding up through the global COVID-19 crisis and coping with the New Normal?

Hi! At first it was a struggle, I was gutted the races had been cancelled as I was planning to do some international racing this year. But it has been nice to be able to do a bit of everything, and not focus on one sport. Over the last couple of months, I have done more foiling and kitesurfing than I probably would have otherwise if there were SUP races every weekend! I work in an NHS hospital too, so I am grateful I have still been able to go in and see my colleagues every day – a sense of normality!

Back to training… Any tips for getting back on the water and staying healthy and injury-free?

I get on the water as often as I can, I love it and I find getting into a rhythm a bit like meditation so it doesn’t ever feel like ‘training’! I don’t follow any particular training plan. I think it’s important to have fun but listen to your body. If I have the energy, I’ll paddle but if I’m feeling tired it’s not worth risking an injury.

Photo: Christie at Brahma Studios / Courtesy of Holly Pye

Could you tell us about your collaboration with Starboard SUP?

I love Starboard kit, it really is the best quality and the boards are the most well designed from those I have used. I’m super grateful to be able to paddle alongside a brand that has such great values, lovely teammates and awesome kit.


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Your Starboard boards of choice?

Such a tough decision. My Starboard Sprint was my only race board for a long time and I am used to paddling it in all water conditions so it’s my old faithful, but I’ve recently fallen in love with the Starboard Ace. I’ve never tried anything like it! I also love the Starboard longboard – so much fun!


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Living in South Devon…Could you share your favourite SUP locations?

River Yealm

River Yealm is such a beautiful location and sheltered too so perfect flat water for beginners. Park on the road by the River Yealm Harbour Authority and you can access the water at all states of tide, but high tide is best if you want a longer trip up the river to see some stunning scenery.

Firestone Bay

Firestone Bay is a small bay just off of Royal William Yard in Plymouth. With lots of history nearby there is lots to take in and it’s right next to South West SUP, an awesome SUP school and Café. You can paddle across to Drake’s Island or out into Plymouth Sound if you’re more adventurous and might even get a friendly seal come to visit you!


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When travelling, park at either Bantham or Bigbury and paddle out for some waves.

The rivermouth makes a great race board or foil wave, or visit Bantham Beach when it’s a bit bigger for more SUP surfing!


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Kingsbridge is a lovely town in South Devon, home to Waterborn SUP who run events, lessons, races and hire! Placed next to the super yummy Crabshell Inn (their pizzas are a must).

The Kingsbridge estuary is only accessible at high tide, but it’s usually very sheltered so a perfect spot to learn and improve SUP skills.


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What are your SUP racing plans for the coming months?

It’d be great if there is some UK racing over the next few months but I know it’s not an easy task for the organisers. Round Hayling Island race is my favourite and that’s in September so I’m hopeful! I was excited that EuroTour was starting up again but realistically that’s out of the question as I can’t risk having to self-isolate after returning from another country due to my job.

Any predictions on how the sport will develop in the light of recent circumstances?

It’ll be really interesting to see how things pan out… It seems like SUP has really taken hold over the UK so maybe more people will find their way into racing. Everyone I have spoken to recently has realised just how much they’re missing the competitive aspect of SUP since the races have been cancelled so we’ll all be back with a fire in our bellies!

Photo: Pierre Lesueur Photography for TotalSUP

Thank you for your time Holly and we hope to catch up with you on the coast soon!

To find out more about Starboard innovation and check out the 2020 board range, visit www.sup.star-board.com

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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