A chat with Holly Pye

Im Holly 👋🏼 I’m 23 and live in South Devon. I’ve been racing now for about 3 years. My day to day life revolves around the water, I always know the forecast so that any chance I get I’m on the water within minutes!! When I’m not on the water I work as a Respiratory and Sleep Physiologist in the NHS – which has been a little stressful the last few months! 

I most love going out along the coast. I’m lucky to live in such a beautiful area. Whether it’s a beautiful calm day, a howling downwinder or a technical race with beach runs and buoy turns. Being on the water and surrounded my nature is my meditation – peace and quiet, nobody else around, just me, my board and the rolling swell to focus on. I go as hard or as easy as I’m feeling that day.

SUP is the best sport ever in my opinion!! Exercise has been proven time and time again to aid mental health but personally I prefer paddling to any other sport. It always gives me a bit of breathing space in a busy day. Time to forget about everything else and focus on what’s happening right now; the next paddle stroke, the sound of the birds flying overhead and the water lapping the nearby rocks. Having said that, I have also made a lot of big life decisions whilst paddling 😂 it’s probably the only part of my day I’m without distractions and get a bit of thinking time!

I paddle pretty much as often as the weather allows. If I could I’d be out every day, but the South West is a windy spot! Over the winter I continue to paddle in the dark evenings which allows me to get out usually 2 or 3 times a week and I mix this up with other watersports when I’m not working but cross training during the week. In the summer when it’s usually nicer weather this might increase to 4 or 5 SUP days a week.

When I’m not paddling I love pretty much any other watersport; surfing, kitesurfing, wing foiling, etc. They all help with reading the water and feeling comfortable in all conditions, being in the sea really is my happy place and even just getting in for a dip helps my mental health. Because these are all weather dependent sports, I will sometimes run and have recently taken up bouldering which I LOVE. 

I have a lot of kit, it’s non-negotiable really when you want to go out in all conditions. I haven’t had too many negative experiences with kit but to be honest I will only buy it if I’m 100% sure it’s right for the job. I’m on a budget! I do find that a lot of women’s kit is flowery patterns and neon colours which is great if you’re super girly but personally I’d rather have functional equipment. Men’s kit tends to be more practical – with pockets in the right places, secure fittings and often more affordable(!!!). 

Sizing can be a problem. I think this is probably the same with all types of clothing and not just those designed for watersports, but the same size from two different brands are almost guaranteed to fit completely differently!

I’d say go for it, I spent too long worrying about what people might think when I was younger and sport wasn’t very popular amongst my peers, let alone watersports! Just get chatting to someone or join a club, ask if they know any good spots locally and want a paddle buddy. Ive never met anyone who paddles and isn’t friendly so the chances are they will be happy to help! I’ve met so many friends through SUP and they all started by reaching out. 

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