Building on the success of the Cambridge editions of Santa SUP UK, Fanatic UKBrand Ambassador and the event organiser, Jay JSUP Manning is expecting a record number of paddlers hitting the water in aid of SUP for Cancercharity on Sunday, 1st December 2019. This year, the event is brought to Jay’s home turf in Kent, attracting SUP riders from across the South East coast. TotalSUP caught up with the Fanatic Team Rider and SUP pioneer in the UK, as this festive event coincides with Jay soon celebrating his 10th anniversary of paddling and promoting the sport under the Fanatic brand.
Photo: Mark Hewlett Photography
Hi Jay! You’re known as a dedicated SUP community builder. Tell us more about the coming up Charity Santa SUP event.
I put the famous red suit for the first time 12 years ago. The event has grown from a handful of riders attending to an impressive SUP community of dedicated paddlers from across the UK who each year join us for this epic gathering and support a great cause, the SUP for Cancer charity. We had around 170 paddlers attending last year! Santa SUP is a great excuse to get everyone together outside of the SUP season on water as the next event will be probably not take place until April 2020, when the demo season kicks off.
Photo: Mark Hewlett Photography
What are the challenges of organising the event of this scale?
Weather. Obviously, we’re not blessed like places in Florida or the Caribbean where you can organise SUP with pretty much guaranteed weather, where in the UK we are governed by some spectacular colds that dictate whether people will come or not. We’re paddling in Winter and weather can be a game changer. If it’s not right it can really impact the event or make it grow.
Photo: Mark Hewlett Photography
What are the perks of attending Santa SUP UK?
Definitely getting together on water and sharing the stoke…We have some cool SUP clubs and great brands lined up, supporting the event including Fanatic UK, Hey DUDE Shoes, SUP Nation, Cool Flo and more. There will be a mega raffle, prizes for the best Christmas costume, festive refreshments and lots of laugh. We have experienced paddlers with rescue awards joining us so it’s a friendly, inclusive event and everyone is invited.
Photo: Mark Hewlett Photography
Jay, massive congratulations on your coming up 10 year anniversary of being the Fanatic Team Rider and Brand Ambassador in the UK! Could you tell us more about the beginning of your collaboration with Fanatic?
I’ve been nearly ten years now on the Fanatic team and Nik Baker, a World Champion who competed at elite level windsurfing for over 20 years, is one of my biggest influence, a mentor who’s supported me and carved me into who I am today, a professional paddleboarder in a sense. Nik has been running one of the most successful windsurfing distributors in the UK, K-66 distribution bringing Fanatic and Ion to the UK market. As well as being a part of the Fanatic team, thanks to Nik I’ve learnt the business, professional side of building a brand and bringing it to the market.
You’re recognised as one of the SUP pioneers in the UK. How did you discover the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
It started about 14 years ago…Coming from a windsurfing background I accidentally stumbled onto a very long windsurfing board for which apparently I needed a paddle instead of the wind. I had a chance to try it out, I “stole” the board for a while and eventually ended up buying it… I was hooked. I couldn’t believe I could paddle miles off shore on a flat day. We were some of the first people, pioneers of stand up paddleboarding in the UK, I knew some windsurfers that were paddling but that was basically it. Instead of getting stuck on the beach, killing time waiting for the wind when there were no windsurfing days, we were no longer drinking coffee on the beach anymore but paddling three miles off shore, talking and thinking, this is weird, but at the same time, great weird and SUP has completely taken over my life.
Social media was just picking up and you were typing Laird Hamilton for example and all those top pro guys having paddleboards… I paddled with John Hibbard and then suddenly more pros were doing it and other people started coming to the mix. A year on from that there was this first organisation, early days of BSUPA, which organised the first big SUP event in the UK and I remember thinking “I gotta go and get involved”. It was literally the first SUP thing that came up and I met around 15 guys with whom I’m still in touch and paddle like Mark Slater…It was such a great time, we were doing SUP racing and there were no fancy race boards but those allround ones, big paddles, lots of splashes, lots of laughsand lots of social paddling. I thought it was the coolest sport around.
How has the SUP scene changed since you started paddleboarding?
It has exploded. There’s still plenty of work out there, trying to help pushing SUP along a little bit more. There are lots of organisations supporting the growth of the sport which is great. Then you’ve got the opinion leaders, the team riders like myself, not only representing brands but getting out there, meeting people, talking over coffee about anything revolving around the sport, whether it’s about wearing a wetsuit, buoyancy aid, types of leashes…
That’s why I’m there, I’ve been there, done that and played it vividly. Whatever I do people try to listen to what I say, you know, everyone has to start somewhere. I think people nowadays entering the SUP scene are not from the watersports background such as surfing or windsurfing and the transition from paddling in Summer to Winter SUP can be tricky, so by hanging out with people, talking to them, I’m trying to help as I can, and I love it. Obviously when it comes to branding, I’m in charge of the full Fanatic demo UK and I’m happy and privileged to show the boards and encourage paddlers to try them for themselves.
Loyal to the brand…You’ve been a Fanatic Team Rider and Brand Ambassador for nearly ten years now. What’s unique about the Fanatic brand that has made you work with this brand for a decade?
You know, every year, since I’ve been on the team, when the next range comes out around September time, before it goes public, I’m looking at it and I’m excited. Every year, when I’m seeing new shades, new colours, innovations towards sustainable design, I look at them and just go WOW, I can’t wait to show those boards around. I was blown away with the 2020 collection, it’s been so intense waiting for the build up and finally see it and ride it. To me, it’s about having that excitement where you just can’t wait to get on those boards and show them off and get other excited about them, too. I think over the years Fanatic range has gotten better and better and I’ve already got buzz for the next year.
People and busy lots of people – I’m a crowd person. I like to be thrown in and be there, in a sense of “Here’s a cool dude and talk to him and get advice on this”. I believe that SUP social is the main big scene out there even bigger than racing and it will only be growing. I like to share that positive vibe wherever I go, when I meet fellow Fanatic riders, like Christian Andersenaka Polar Bear we just hang around and have a laugh.
What’s next? To grow everything that I’ve done. I think the UK keeps me busy and as the sport is going to get bigger and in that case events are going to get bigger, I’ll be trying to help any communities that need a little bit of coolness. Bottom line is my passion for the sport and I don’t want to overstep myself on things. I take every year as it goes, I just keep on going, keep checking how I do things, making the social side of SUP better. I’m planning to focus a little bit more on my vlogging and adventure paddles bringing people together to have fun. I’d definitely like to think the next year is going to be bigger.
Thank you for your time and see you at the Santa SUP UK!
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