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Although the official summer months have passed, the recent warm September weather has meant winter doesn’t seem quite so close. This was lucky for us here at Experience Days, as last weekend we were off to spend a day out on the water with Hove Lagoon Watersports at their Ladies Day, trying our hand at stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP as it is also known), windsurfing and wakeboarding. Here’s how we got on:
Poppy and I arrived at the centre at 10:00am, where we were greeted and signed in by one of the instructors at the lagoon called Lucy. Having imagined battling the waves out on the open water, we were relieved to find that our activities would be taking place in the lagoon itself with its calm, waist-deep water. Being shallower also meant the water was considerably warmer than the sea, but in spite of this and to be on the safe (and warm) side we kitted up with wet suits, life jackets and water shoes. Our group of about 25 ladies was then divided into smaller groups of about 5-10, with the plan that we would rotate round the various activities.
First up for Poppy and I was paddle boarding. It’s safe to say we weren’t experts at this
new and hugely popular sport, but with the help of our instructor Jerry we soon found our balance. After a few minutes of paddling whilst kneeling on the boards, our group was ready to progress to standing up. Initially a little apprehensively, we gradually rose to a standing position on the board, and aside from a few wobbles here and there, all of the group were soon comfortably paddling around the lagoon.
The second half of our session was somewhat calmer than the first, as we enjoyed 20 minutes of SUP Yoga. Great for core strength, balance and relaxation, we moved from laying to standing to sitting on our boards whilst learning a few breathing techniques and yoga poses (which trust us are a lot harder than they look).
Essentially SUP pro’s (nearly), we made our way to our second activity; windsurfing. With
mixed abilities within the group we wondered how the session would pan out, but our lovely instructor Harriet made sure we were all comfortable out on the water. Among other skills we learnt the basic ‘sailing position’, the ‘secure position’, how to turn and how to steer the boards. The great part about being in a lagoon is that if you are ever feeling slightly nervous, you can just hop off and immediately be standing in the water (which also makes it a lot
easier to get back onto the boards). A combination of soft winds and great tuition meant that by the end of our 45 minute session we had all improved significantly, which left our group with a sense of satisfaction as we eagerly made our way to lunch.
After a delicious burger at the on-site café it was time for wakeboarding, our final activity of the day. A combination of snowboarding, skateboarding and surfing, wakeboarding involves balancing on a board whilst you are pulled along the water by a cable. Our instructor Lucy explained some basic wakeboarding tips, and before we knew it we were in the water clinging to the handle, waiting to begin. Lucy controlled the speed of the cable which allowed us to all emerge from the water slowly whilst we found our balance. Once up, the speed picked up a little as we glided along the water. Within our group no one seemed to have any trouble getting up, and we all enjoyed the excitement wakeboarding brings; to quote one team member ‘the feeling of gliding across the water is just incredible!’.
A SUP relay race and prize giving ceremony signalled the end of our action packed day,
and buzzing from the excitement but also ready for a long hot shower we all made our way home. The day really was a great taster of the world of water sports. From the wonderful instructors to the on-site facilities, we couldn’t fault Hove Lagoon Watersports. If you’re looking to try water sports for the first time, or are an expert wanting to expand your skill set, the shelter and calm waters of the lagoon provide a great location. A big thank you to Hove Lagoon Watersports for having us, and in particular to our instructors Lucy, Jerry and Harriet for being so patient while we got to grips with the various sports – we can’t wait to show off our new skills!
At Experience Days we are excited to provide you an exclusive interview about the roots and future of Lagoon Watersports in Brighton with one of the founders- Harvery Dawkins. Lagoon Watersports offers a wide range of exciting Watersports such as: Wakeboarding, Kayaking, Sailing and SUPing which can be found via our webpage here.
1) Please explain a bit of background on Lagoon Watersports and the different activities you offer.
My initial passion was for windsurfing, in particular wave sailing. This passion led to the development of my love for being on and in the water as much as possible. So with my business partner and friend Seb Rouse we started the business in 1994 with just 6 windsurf boards and it grew from there. The increasing popularity of the business meant we began to expand – introducing sailing and kayaking. Seb is a very keen sailor and so specializes in the sailing side- the yachts and powerboats, opening our big boat-sailing and power boating centre in Brighton Marina whereas I manage the centre in Hove Lagoon.
Lagoon Watersports offers a variety of exhilarating water activities including: Wakeboarding, Windsurfing, Kayaking and Dinghy Sailing which is brilliantly run by our team of up to 40 employees (during peak season). Since the centres' opening in 2001, the thrilling Zap Cat powerboats immediately became a very popular extreme power boating experience, but personally I prefer a more rustic approach and enjoy the sail and human power rather than the engines.
Wakeboarding has been a sport the staff and I have always been keen on; however it tends to be impractical and expensive due to internal and external factors such as an appropriate boat, driver and a calm sea. But as soon as the new generation of straight line wakeboard cable systems arrived we knew that this was the way to go and invested to become the South Coast's first cable Wakeboard Park.
In the last couple of years, the standup paddle boarding scheme has exploded and this is something I love. It is so accessible yet has the diversity to make the sport as challenging and extreme as you like.
2) How did your passion in watersports turn into a career?
I wanted to go windsurfing when it was windy not when my boss said I could, which was often enough. I just wanted to be completely independent in what I loved to do. Obviously the reality is very different and there's a lot of hours involved but throughout the years I've managed to do a lot of windsurfing, SUPing and wake boarding so it has pretty much worked out as planned.
3) Do you have any exclusive information you can share with us?
We are finding more and more people want to get onto the water. When people visit or even residents of Brighton, everyone wants that connection with the water, it makes you feel good. A recent trend that we are delighted to see seems to be that more and more people are looking for health activities that are more interactive to do outside of the gym, and that is what Lagoon Watersports offers. To coincide with this, we have been adding new classes like SUP yoga, SUP race training, coastal sailing cruises and more advanced training courses to help customers stimulate their passion and reach that next level. Also look out for SUPing (Standup paddleboarding) it's the next big thing!
4) What makes your experiences unique and special for customers?
Our focus is to offer people the chance not just to try a sport but to go on and practice it on a regular basis; whether that experience is sailing a yacht all the way to France, wake boarding every night after work or going to SUP race events. We try to remove as many of the barriers as we can so that the clients interest can be driven e.g. we provide everything including: equipment, storage space and a team of staff to help train and give advice. Our close team of staff is the spirit to the business and this passion easily translates to the customers. Our staff members enjoy meeting customers and are keen to share their knowledge with the customer and as keen to get out on the water with them. The venues also make a difference. We are very lucky to have such great venues and Hove Lagoon is one of the best centres in the UK to learn such a range of watersports. Whilst Brighton Marina gives us the opportunity to sail sight out of sea.
5) What's your most frequently asked question from customers?
It would probably be either 'Do you provide wetsuits?' Which we do! Or 'what happens if it rains?' As we are already getting wet, we do still run the activities. Watersports have that advantage of being great fun despite the weather; because you are active your body is able to stay warm. We also have a great café you can wind down in après Surf!
Group Size & Spectators:
Spectators are welcome to watch from the centre.
There is also a licenced cafe for drinks and light refreshments.
The Hove Stand Up Paddleboarding Introductory lesson is available all year round, subject to availability. Please call us for specific dates.
The entire experience will last for approximately 2 hours, including a full safety breifing and introduction to the equipment.
This Paddleboarding Introductory session in Brighton generally runs in all weathers. Should the experience be cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, the centre will offer alternate dates.
Please wear an old pair of shoes which you do not mind getting wet - don't forget a towel and swim wear.
All safety equipment is provided by the centre.
Minimum age: 16 years+
This SUP boarding experience is aimed at complete beginners.
Non-swimmers should notify the centre before making a booking.