Paddleboarding through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
- Credit: Archant
The last words said to me when I was invited to sample paddleboarding in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park were “be prepared to get wet.”
So when I turned up at the pontoon, tucked away at the bottom of a hill in the middle of the park, I fully expected myself to be headfirst in the river with in five minutes.
Watching others having a go as I strapped myself in to my life jacket, I realised I would need a good sense of balance.
Standing on the pontoon, instructor Paul Hyman demonstrated the basic technique of keeping the oar straight, close to the board and not pulling it behind me.
He also pushed me off balance to see how I would right myself - something that the choppy waters mean paddleboarders often need to do.
Finally Paul thought I was ready to take to the water.
The way to get on is to go onto your hands and knees then paddle out a little way before standing up
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So I got on, paddled a little way out – and then couldn’t get up.
Every slight movement of the board made me think I was going to fall off, and to top it all off I had to navigate my way around a group of children taking part in a canoeing session at the same time.
Eventually, after taking advice from one of my fellow paddleboarders to get a bit of speed up before standing up, I was able to get onto my feet.
The next challenge I faced was paddling straight.
Despite NAME telling me the technique, I found it hard to take more than three or four strokes without veering off to the side and needing to change hands.
With quite a bit of oar switching, I was able to paddle my way up and down the river.
Gradually, I became more confident in my ability and I found myself rather enjoying it – enough, in fact, to work out when I could go back and have another go.
Paddleboarding is available between 12noon and 4pm every Monday and Thursday until the end of August at the North Park Paddle Hub (on the river next to the Agitos). This activity is suitable for ages 10 and over.