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  • Joe Lo

April Newsletter

It's been a busy few weeks: a well attended club BBQ at Easter, a high turn out at the club social at the Cricketers and a wonderful surf trip in North Devon. Read on to hear more about it and to find out what is coming up next!

In this issue

  • Trip Report - North Devon Surfing

  • Dates for the Diary

  • Topic of the Month: Kayak Surfing

Trip Report - North Devon Surfing

First thanks to Luke Shute for enthusiastically pressing for a surf trip for the club. Over twenty of us headed down to Croyde to be treated to a sun-soaked weekend of crashing waves and a friendly family atmosphere club trip. A couple of early arrivers on the Friday caught some surf, riding out the long rolling waves of Saunton, which were probably the biggest of the weekend. On the Friday night, most of us met up in the Ruda bar to discuss what the sea and sun of North Devon had to offer. For those who stayed later we even had the treat of a Country and Western in the Show Bar. On the Saturday we all headed to Croyde beach. The waves may have been small, but for those intrepid paddlers who were out in it, they were the surf heroes of the Guiness advert: “tick followed tock” - sorry to the younger people who do not get the reference, it means something to many.

On Saturday night we had a mighty meal at the Thatch pub - many thanks to Kirsten for organising that. We still had the sun on Sunday, but the waves were rather small. However a few of us ventured out, catching waves like experts. Neil had brought along some paddle boards for a few of us to try as well. So until next time, just have a look at the smiles to see how much fun we had.

A top quote:

The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”

Phil Edwards

Photos courtesy of Sonia Harrison and Joe Lo

Dates for the Diary

Lakeside Evening Sessions

Beginning 6.00pm Tuesday 30th April 2024 - Every week a chance to come down Park, Paddle, Play. Come down each Tuesday to practice and build skills in a friendly flat water environment.

Woodmill Wier

6.00pm Thursday 9th May 2024 - Low tide: 6.33pm - 0.76m

I am running a fortnightly session down at the Woodmill Wier, focussing on practicing and developing whitewater skills. Drop Joe Lo a message or email for details.

Nene White Water Course

Sunday 5th May 2024 - Paddlers who are new to white water, come and have a play on this friendly white water course. Contact Joe Lo for details.

White Water Development in North Wales

10th-12th May 2024 - A weekend for getting your White Water Safety training and qualification. We will be using the Rivers Dee and Tryweryn as our locations, staying in Llangollen as a base. The aim is to award the White Water Safety and Rescue qualification. I have hired in a high level coach, which costs in the region of £120+ certification fees per person, depending on numbers (can get a little cheaper). Get in touch with Joe Lo for details.


7.30pm 15th May 2024 - Swaythling Working Men's Club, 2 High Rd, Southampton SO16 2JH - Club Social and opportunity to guide the club's future.

Woodmill Wier

6.00pm Thursday 23rd May 2024 - Low tide: 5.47pm - 1.2m

I am running a fortnightly session down at the Woodmill Wier, focussing on practicing and developing whitewater skills. Drop Joe Lo a message or email for details.

Upper Wye Tour

24th-27th May 2024 - Wye paddle it? Scenic flowing river with shallow rapids for interest.

The plan is to canoe sections of the Wye over the late May bank holiday weekend, subject to water levels.

As this is a Club trip , Club boats can be used but would need collecting and transported to/from the Barkstore.  Canoe hire is available locally if you don't want to/can't transport one. If you want to kayak, no problem as we plan to do shuttles between campsites/egresses.  This is a family trip so all are welcome. You don't even have to camp or do the complete weekend. To be included in the plans for the trip, please complete the registration form here.

Darkwater Coaching Courses

For those looking to start their paddle qualification development, there are spaces available at a special club rate by Oliver Taylor-Wood, at Darkwater Adventure Coaching. 

  • Paddler Sport Rescue Training 4th may 2024

  • Paddle Instructor Award 25th-26th May 2024

  • Core Coach 15th-16th June 2024 


Big day at Barkstore

2.00pm 9th June 2024

  • Taster Session - Introduction session for new paddlers

  • River Clean Up - Paddle UK national event to get out a clear up some of the river rubbish

  • BBQ - Second club organised social - come along for a sauasge

Keep an eye out for emails and an eye on the calendar

Medway Circuit

5th-7th July 2024 - An old favourite paddle tour in the garden of England flat water with a couple of weirs to spice it up a little. Please contact Barney for details.

Symonds Yat

20th-22nd September 2024 - The club standard: some touring on the Wye and an introduction to White Water at Symonds Yat.

Call for Coaches and Leaders - As the club gets more successful and active. We will need to have more coaches and leaders. I am contacting all those listed as coaches and leaders at the club at the moment to check in their support. At the end of the month we will putting a call for those interested in developing Coaching and leading skills to the wider club.

Club calendar - Thankfully the snow is finishing and our marvelous and much-missed  Secretary, Lyn is back. The UHCC Calendar is now being updated and should prove a reliable method of checking club plans.

Happy Paddling,


Topic of the Month: Kayak Surfing

This month we had a successful surf kayak trip to Croyde in North Devon. There are probably some people are wondering what is it all about. So rather than bore you with my words I have done some research and taken some points to share with you. Have a read and maybe you will be inspired to get put there and shred the waves. 

Top quote

“There are a million ways to surf, and as long as you're smiling, you're doing it right.”

Unknown Author

Party on dudes

Anatomy Of The Surf Zone


The edges of a breaking wave will often stay green and glassy longer than the top-heavy middle section, making longer, smoother rides possible.

Spilling Surf

The safest place to learn to surf is off of a gently sloping beach where the swells release their energy gradually.

Dumping Surf

Swells break explosively at the edge of a sharp drop-off like a shoal or a steep beach, or at a river mouth. Dumping surf offers the potential for tube rides, but it’s also the most challenging.


A quiet field of foamy water forms at the end of the surf zone.

Rip Current

One major hazard to be aware of as a surfer is the rip. Wave energy can reflect off of the beach and create a strong offshore current, which can be used to your advantage when launching but creates a hazard for swimmers. To escape a rip current, swim perpendicular to the current to reach waves that will wash you ashore.

Surf Etiquette

When we are out on the surf we are sharing the waves with a community of wave riders. Over the years a set of rules have developed and widely accepted as Surf etiquette. The following is a sound description.


The person closest to the peak (the part of the wave that starts to break) has the right-of-way, which means that this person can decide to take or not take the wave. Other surfers need to wait for their turn. In order to avoid misunderstandings, communication is very important in this matter especially in a-frame type of waves (waves breaking both to the left and right). Remember that if you paddle for a wave and don’t catch it, you will lose your priority!


A snake is someone that paddles around you in order to gain priority on a breaking wave that you were already paddling for. Being a snake or aggressively trying to position yourself in the lineup is considered very rude and can get you in big trouble. Wait for your turn!


If the surfer with priority takes off on the wave, it’s his/her wave and you should not try to catch the wave. There can only be one surfer on a wave! If you continue to paddle for a wave that belongs to someone else you can ruin the wave for him. If you catch the wave of someone else and start surfing in front of the other person, this is called dropping in. Dropping in is strictly forbidden and can be very dangerous. Make sure you look both ways before you take off on a wave!

What to do if you accidentally drop in one someone?If you accidentally drop in on someone because you didn’t see him or her, make sure you get out of the wave as quickly as possible. If you are unable to kick out over the shoulder of the wave, don’t simply fall off your board with the risk of your board hitting the other surfer. Instead try not to be in the way of the other surfer, surf straight out of the wave and don’t make any maneuvers. Dropping in is a crime in surfing, so make sure you apologize to the surfer you just dropped in on!


When you enter the water, always paddle wide around the breaking waves. A good way to do this is by using the channel (the part where the water floats back into the ocean). Waves don’t break so much in the channel, because the current out to the sea blocks the incoming swell. It will make it easier for you to reach the lineup and by doing this, you won’t be in the way of other surfers. The surfer paddling out to the lineup always has to make sure not to be in the way of the surfer riding the wave. If you accidentally happen to be in the way, always aim for the whitewater. Although it would be easier for you to paddle over the shoulder of the wave instead of getting hit by the whitewash, the risk of being in the way of a surfer is more important than your own comfort.


Before paddling out without teacher in a lineup; you should be able to control your surfboard at all times. Surfboards are like weapons and could do serious damage to you or other people if not controlled by the surfer. When a wave or whitewater is approaching, you should never jump off and throw your surfboard. Don’t rely on the leash, because leashes can break anytime. Learn to duck dive or turtle roll so you don’t have to ditch your surfboard. Once in the lineup, make sure there is enough distance between you and other surfers.

“Surfing makes me happy, so that's just what I plan on doing.”

Alana Blanchard

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