There’s lots of ways I’d describe the paddle boarding community: inclusive, welcoming and wonderful. Like many others, I discovered the world of SUP this year as a perfect, socially distanced escape and way to spend time outdoors. 

As a size 18 woman, only slightly larger than the average, which is a UK16, I thought it would be pretty simple, believing – like general fitness brands – sizing options would be inclusive in leading labels. What I discovered was the opposite – rather than being inclusive and reflecting the community, kit was exclusive.

Most of the leading paddling brands only went to a women’s UK16 or an XL, excluding all women above the UK average and making the only option men’s kit. This often doesn’t fit right, since it doesn’t account for women’s different body shapes or sizes – after all, it wasn’t designed for us.

This battle is not new to women who have been paddling for a while. They had to campaign just to get women’s kit in the first place, this is insane to me, it’s a patriarchal idea – women weren’t worthy of kit.

Now we have kit with sizing that works for very few women and I’ve found myself on a mission to change that.

What I want to achieve is simple…
No women will ever have to give up on a sport they love because they can’t get the kit they need, it’s not too much to ask for.

Immediately it caught the attention of women and brands alike and while many larger brands have given me lots of excuses but there are some phenomenal brands who want to be involved in changing the norm!

McConks were on board from Day 1, they launched a survey gathering data about women’s sizes. You can access it here if you have a couple of minutes and a tape measure.

Then many women fed back that it was too detailed and that it made them feel self conscious about themselves. So I came up with a simpler one, so everyone, no matter how they were feeling can fill it in anonymously.

Click here to complete the #PaddleKitHerWay Survey.

The campaign continues to grow, with a team of passionate women helping me take the reigns. These champions, from various disciplines, will help drive the campaign forward starting with a Facebook community – #PaddleKitHerWay Community. We hope this will become a community of like minded women and we can work together to get better kit options for us all, as well as increasing the accessibility of the sport for plus size women.

Join us on Facebook here.

There’s so much to come, there’s a long way to go but I’m sure together we can get the change we deserve.

I’ll be back with regular kit related updates!

A chat with Tamara

I’m Tamara, and I live in Australia (Wollongong, NSW). I’m studying a Masters of Counselling right now, and last September as I thought about self-care in a highly emotionally demanding career I realised how important being out on the water was to me. I used to kayak as a child but I put weight on at puberty my father decided that I should lose weight or not kayak anymore. Shame kept me away. I decided shame couldn’t win anymore and took up paddle boarding! 

I love that SUP allows people to enjoy movement, in whatever way they can. Sometimes you sit down, sometimes you kneel, sometimes you stand, and sometimes you dance… and whichever way you get out on the water, it’s perfectly okay. 

I remember the feeling of freedom I had when kayaking in childhood, and the way it felt to paddle away from my worries and fears and pressures. The feeling is exactly the same on a SUP. It’s me, the familiar rhythm of the paddle in the water, slow and steady breathing, and any wildlife around. It’s where I feel most myself, most at peace, and most at home in my body. 

I try to paddle once or twice a week, schedules allowing. There are a few beautiful waterways we can use when the tide is high and others when it’s low. I supplement SUP with yoga to help me stay flexible and keep working on trusting my body. I do love a good run, though…

Being in Australia, our kit doesn’t need to be comprehensively warm. My biggest kit issue was actually around the board itself. I wanted a board that I would feel at ease on, could have my dog on with, and one that would allow me to paddle with kids if I have them. I went with a Red Ride 10’8 in the end. My other kit is a pair of super comfortable board shorts from Young Squad, and I’d love to say a good rashie, but I haven’t found a good one yet so I often go with a bikini covered by a t-shirt and a good sunscreen.

If you’re thinking about trying SUP, you should! Find someone who will teach you the basics and help you build confidence, find waterways that feel safe to you, and take things at a pace that delights your heart – if its a race pace, do it! If it’s a slow paddle, do that. Make SUP something you do for joy, not to shrink your body. You deserve joy.

To find out more about Tamara – check out her instagram @tamara.robson

What will they think?

I hear this question a lot well I don’t, I hear the answer to the question. “I’m too fat”, “I look like a fool”, “my face is too red” or “everyone will be watching me’.

But I wonder how many of us have considered that other peoples opinion of us is actually none of our business. It’s their opinion, it’s not the truth and you don’t actually even know what they’re thinking. It’s funny really when you think about it, well it’s not, it’s sad, the number of people that allow that opinion to stop them doing what they want to.

I was, I am one of ‘those’ people too. I’ve worried about my friends judging me for being too clumsy on my board, I’ve sped up while running past acquaintances and I’ve felt judged by complete strangers on the internet. And, I don’t know how many times, I’ve justified my weight to people by talking about the activity I do. My point is, I am far from immune from feeling this way and for a long time it stopped me pushing myself.

Do you know what helped?

I found freedom in the fact that nobody is
think about you (or me)!

It brought me so much perspective when I realised that, I was the only one who was thinking and judging myself against impossible standards. I would never speak to my friend or anyone on the street like that, so why was I doing it to myself.

When that woman ran past me with a red face, I thought ‘wow, I wish I had the motivation to run today and looked that strong doing it’. When I watched someone wobbling on their board, I thought ‘Go you for giving it a try’ and well, I’ve never though ‘ooo why is she doing ___’ and judged someone for the way their body looks when it’s moving.

So, I’d like to take the pleasure in telling you, no one is thinking about you the way you are. They’re not worried about the way you look, in fact you might just be inspiring someone to try something new because turning up is SO IMPORTANT. If you don’t see other people who look like you – do it anyway!

Oh and to that very small minority (I mean tiny) who might judge… why does it matter?
Don’t let it get to you, their opinion doesn’t matter, its a projection of their own insecurities and only you know the real truth. Self-validation comes from self-acceptance and that’s so powerful to understand because YOU hold the power.

We only have one life, it’s not long enough, so don’t let the way you ‘think’ you look stop you from living the best life for you. It only takes a moment of fearlessness to make a change.

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. 

A chat with Jo Moseley

Hi, I’m Jo. I’m 56 (on Boxing Day!) and I live on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve been a single Mum to my gorgeous boys – now both in their 20s – for quite a while and am now in a new chapter of life, an empty nester! 

I started SUP in 2016, taking my first lesson in the Lake District on 24 September. I know so clearly because for the first time in months I felt like a warrior not a worrier! I felt like Wonderwoman! I was recovering from a knee injury and my spirit was lifted immediately.

I paddle on the sea, the canals and a reservoir in the hills near my home. In summer 2019 I paddled coast to coast 162 miles from Liverpool to Goole, picking up litter and raising money for @waveprojectuk and 2minuteBeachClean. I also walk a lot, do kettlebells and swim, in a pool + sea. I love body balance classes too to keep me mobile + flexible!

SUP makes me feel alive! Uplifted, calm, free, in the moment, like Wonderwoman, connected to nature and connected to myself. It has given me courage, confidence, a sense of purpose and possibility. It’s also enriched my life with friendships and many opportunities over the years – radio, tv, magazines, speaking and making tiny award winning films about the joy of paddleboarding.

Although I have always been able to find kit, the sizing often feels a bit odd even within brands. The #paddlekitherway is important to me because I want every woman, if she wishes to try paddleboarding, to feel welcome and that she belongs. 💙

Photo credit – @cag_photo

Find out more about Jo @healthyhappy50

10 Things I’ve learnt from the first 120 miles

1. 847 miles is going to be tough
I might have underestimated how far it is or my ability but that’s okay – it’s a challenge for a reason. It’s also for a great cause raising awareness for #PaddleKitHerWay and money for Weldmar Hospice.

2. Confidence can waver
Some days my confidence feels like a powerhouse on the water, who can face anything, surf the wave and go for miles. Other days, I feel anxious, standing feels impossible.

3. Every paddle is different
Some are strong, some are memorable, some are short and sweet and others, just feel rubbish – there’s not always a reason for it.

4. Rest is important
Sometimes, there is a reason for a paddle to feel rubbish – doing too much, everyday, can suck the enjoyment out of paddling. Taking a day off is important, it can be tough when the weathers great but sometimes you still need too!

5. Life has begun to revolve around the weather
Ask me what the wind speed or direction is and I’ll be able to tell you. What’s the forecast for the next few days, well, I’ll be sure to tell you which days look best for paddling!

6. The seasons changing is beautiful
Winter to Spring has been wonderful and makes me appreciate nature so much more.

7. Some miles feel really long
Into that wind that’s stronger than predicted and is throwing up lots of chop – not always very fun.

8. Progress happens without you realising it
Suddenly you realise that the distance or the skill you just nailed felt easy when only weeks ago it felt impossible.

9. Friends for miles
The best kind of miles are with friends, chatting along and laughing

10. Believing I can do it
I need to remember this because with a huge number of miles ahead of me, I have to believe I can do it otherwise, without belief in myself, I just won’t be able to do it! And I’m going to do it!

My Top 4 Lockdown Locations

It’s not long until corona virus restrictions are due to begin lifting, with day travel within the UK back on the cards from May! For me, that means more chances for paddle adventures, slightly further afield in Dorset and I can’t wait.

I’m very lucky to have incredible paddle destinations right on my doorstep which mean my lockdown paddles have still been epic. So, by popular demand (on my Instagram stories), here are my 4 Top Lockdown Locations, so if Weymouth & Portland is a post lockdown destination for you, don’t forget your paddle board (or kayak or canoe)!

Billy Winters to Sandsfoot Castle

Sandbank hopping between Billy Winters and Sandsfoot.

One of my favourite paddles, you can actually launch from either, but the parking and launching is much easier from Billy Winters – there is also the draw of Cake and Coffee at the end of the paddle. Paddling around the edge of the harbour, under the cliffs with the small hidden beaches. At low spring tide, you can island hop across the sandbars, standing in the middle of the harbour and at neap tides you can enjoy the little beaches on route. This paddle is around 2 miles and the first one I took once I was more competent – you can also continue past the castle towards the underbarn, giving you a 3 mile paddle.

You can also hire paddle boards here in the summer, if you just want to give it a try!

Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach at Dusk

The perfect park and play for beginners or individuals, like me that want to practice some skills in the sheltered shallows. 

Parking in the pavilion car park, it’s just a short walk to the shoreline more sheltered towards the pavilion wall but offering a long sandy paddle. This beach is a favourite with families due to it safety – the sheltered bay, sandy shallow waters and clean water. 

Either practice in the skills in the shallows or paddle along the seafront, heading towards Greenhill gardens or further on to Oasis Café, where the water gets a little deeper. 

The Fleet

The fleet lagoon is an area of water between Chesil Beach and the mainland and is a Special Area of Conservation. The area is beautiful and is a stunning place to paddle but it is important before you set off on this paddle you do a little planning. 

Firstly, the tide, you do not want to be paddling against the tide here, time it wrong and you’ll might just have to wait it out. Timing it with the tide so that it’s with you on the way out, the tide can flow through here at 8 knots, not something you want to battle against. We aim to do this at neap tides, when hightide is around lunchtime, as there is less tidal flow, it makes it possible to paddle against the tide on the way in. 

The other thing is the environment – it’s important that we respect the area to preserve the wildlife, staying away from nesting birds, and avoiding mud flats are also important things to consider. The mud poses a risk of getting stuck if the tide isn’t right, at only a couple meters deep, sticking to the deep channel by chesil bank after the narrows. 

While there is lots to consider, if done sensitively, it’s a beautiful paddle, which often includes litter picking in areas not easily accessible.

There is lot of information to be found here to help with planning or alternatively speak to a local instructor to get advice. 

Bowleaze Cove to Ringsted

A really beautiful paddle for more confident paddlers – launching at Bowleaze cove you can follow the coast around to the left along the cliffs. With hidden beaches and a shipwreck, a little further around the coast.

The coastline is untouched and beautiful but definitely and adventure for a day with no wind as the water can change quickly so be sure to check the forecast. 

This adventure can be as long as you want to make it, 2 miles, 6 or even further if you want to head past Ringsted bay. 

Just be sure to check the wind forecast, tides and take safety precautions – wear a PFD, take a phone and only within your ability

Six SUP Tips for Beginners

Something I asked about often is tips for beginners, in fact many of you voted for this blog piece but before I get any further with this blog, I want to remind you that I’m no coach. So instead I wrote this for myself, for the slightly scared, apprehensive but excited individual I was when I first started SUP. You see, I was worried what people might think of me, I was nervous about failing or falling too much but above all about making a fool of myself.


This might seem like an obvious one but it is so easy to procrastinate. Despite always wanting to try paddle boarding, it actually took me over a year to actually take the dive. I’d spend time watching others paddlers, wanting to try but make excuses on why i couldn’t do it. drop that fear and commit to it – it might be the best thing you can do!
My first time on a paddle board


For some of you, that might be a given… it was for me anyway, the idea of standing seemed impossible at the beginning. For others, you might find it easier to stand up and stay dry but falling in helps us learn so much more. My coach says, if you don’t fall your not trying hard enough.

Just remember, fall 9 times, get up 10.
Falling in is half the fun!


Join a club or even just a facebook group but finding someone to buddy up with can be a game changer. Not only does it make it safer but it makes it so much more fun – i’ve never laughed so much as when i’ve been learning a new skill with friends. Then when something goes right, it’s like having your very own cheer squad. For me, this has been such a huge part of falling in love the sport.
Friends make failing fun


Now many of you might put this as number 1 and if i knew, what i did now, i’d put this as number one too. The thing is, i’m writing this for people who like me, think the idea of a lesson to start is too intimidating. If i waited till i was ready to take a lesson to start, i probably would still be waiting BUT Lessons are invaluable. If you have already paddled a little they can correct your technique and if you go for a lesson to start off with, you won’t have bad habits to break. It’s 100% worth it.
Lessons are invaluable – if in Dorset I couldn’t recommend Elaine Farquharson more.


You see, the best things come from moving out of your comfort zone. You soon become comfortable in what was once something you couldn’t imagine for yourself. I actually love being a beginner because every day you see a little more progress!


You can find endless videos and different advice on technique. You might post a picture of you and be bombarded by advice, especially in some of the Facebook groups – take it with all with a pinch of salt. If you’re looking to improve technique, get a coaching session but really when all is said and done – If you’re enjoying it, you’re doing it right.

Now you might think that these aren’t that helpful, they’re mostly about attitude rather than skills but for me, getting my head in the right space has been the most important part of the journey. You see, while many blogs will tell you how to get up, how to hold your paddle or the best paddle technique – none of this matters if you don’t have the confidence to get out there and try it.

As you fall off over and over or you challenge yourself to paddle further, each time you’re improving and although it can be frustrating, incredibly so at times, at some point you will look back and realise just how far you’ve come, how much you’ve improved and maybe how much you’ve learnt about yourself.

For me, the lessons SUP have taught me reach much further than I ever imagined – it’s not just about the board and the water. – it’s about confidence, resilience and drive to do more. But hey, if you’re reading my blog you’ve probably already realised that!

So the journey begins

So On January 1st I began my virtual paddle from Lands End to John O Groats – 847 Miles. 👏🏻

I want to show that plus size bodies conquer challenges without needed to shrink ourselves first. I’ve done many challenges but never had it not truly been about weight loss in some way – this time it’s different! 

As I clock up the miles, I hope i’ll be able to paddle with some of the wonderful women who have inspired me in this community. I want to Try to explore more of the UK by water when we’re allowed to, including paddling the Great Glen in August with @sup2summit

So every time I can get on the water safely, I’ll be logging the miles on @paddlelogger sharing my progress with you as I go, of course. 

I hope to raise some money for @weldmarhospice as I go and you can donate here. Weldmar is a wonderful local charity who helped my mum and our family greatly during her illness and after she passed away.

I’d also like to say thank you to those who have inspired me.
From the legends @fionalquinn , @cal_major & of course @mrjordanwylie who have done epic journeys, to @mothertrudger whose very own virtual LEJOG inspired me to take on this challenge. 

Finally, I’ve had a few messages from people who want to do a similar challenge. I’d love to hear about the challenges you’re taking on too!


Hi I’m Sarah! 

I started paddling this year and I fell in love with this wonderful sport, joined a club, upgraded my board (twice!) and fell head over heals for everything SUP.💙

As it gets colder, I found it increasingly challenging to find kit in women’s sizes. Most brands only go up to a Women’s UK16 and as a UK size 18, barely plus size, I’m excluded from purchasing from the leading brands. It turns out, that’s a challenge that lots of women are facing, based on the messages I’ve received! 

Paddle boarding is a wonderful sport, one which has been beneficial for both mental & physical health. The community has been nothing but welcoming and inclusive and I feel strongly that the kit should reflect that so I started campaigning for change.

That’s when #PaddleKitHerWay was born – calling for manufacturers to improve their sizing so more women can enjoy the sport. I’m also passionate about challenging other societies norms because we can be strong and healthy regardless of our size. SUP has shown me that finding a sport you love, means you can enjoy exercise for no other reason than you absolutely love it – your body doesn’t need to be changed!

So what can you expect from this blog?
Everything paddle boarding from kit to skills but much more. I’ll be sharing about my mental health, body confidence and other women’s stories after all ‘We rise by lifting others’! Let me know what you think and I can’t wait to meet you all!

A chat with Samantha Rutt

Introduce yourself, when did you start paddling and what type of paddling do you do most?  

It feels much longer but I first stood on a SUP in 2015 on holiday in Portugal.  I think most people know me from racing but I have recently started doing some longer distance challenges and am pretty much combining the two at the moment and working my way around the coast…I also love it if we get some swell on the Norfolk coast so I can get out on my SUP Surfboard. 

How does paddling make you feel/help your mental health? 

Paddling is my therapy. Anyone who knows me knows I talk a lot about mental health (a lot haha) and how being on the ocean has been a place where I can just reconnect with nature and breathe.   It also makes me feel quite free, the ocean its so expansive and you can go off and explore and no two days are the same, so it keeps challenging me. 

How often do you paddle and what other movement do you enjoy? 

As a racer I structure my training around a yearly plan so I can (hopefully) peak for certain races.  So this means training between 5-6 days a week…some days two sessions. It’s not all on the water though as I include strength based workouts and yoga as well.  I love Brazilian Jujitsu if I am not on the water, although that’s stopped this year with covid but I cant wait to get back to it.

What has your experience with kit been and why is PaddleKitHerWay important to you?

Its so tough to get anything that fits properly…and I get frustrated that I can’t get anything that doesn’t squish my boobs… (sorry not sure if I should say that haha) but its true.  The biggest issue I face is my shape. I used to describe myself as an odd shape but actually I am not an odd shape…the truth is I have the shape of a female and that’s not often taken into account with sup clothing, wetsuits etc. The other thing with kit is the sizes between brands vary wildly I am 4 sizes different between some wetsuit manufacturers.  

Finally what would you say to a woman who was thinking about trying paddleboarding? 

What are you waiting for…..Do it…Do it…Do it!! I have yet to meet anyone who has tried SUP and not loved it…get a lesson or get out with your friends but get out and enjoy all the water has to offer….did I mention you should really try it haha! 

Find out more – @samantharutt_oceanadventure