Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge host the UK's first 2 Day Sea Kayak and SUP Symposium

23 Aug
Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge host the UK's first 2 Day Sea Kayak and SUP Symposium

Paddlesports are becoming increasingly popular, with Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), in particular, being the world’s fastest growing watersport. Both Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge are at the heart of this growth and development within Scotland. Therefore, it was a natural fit that both centres joined together on the weekend of 12-14th August to offer participants a symposium celebrating Sea Kayaking and SUP. Guest coaches were present and the 26 participants experienced an exciting mix of workshops, talks and demos throughout the course of the event.

We’ve charted a diary of the weekend’s activities below:

Friday 12th August - The Symposium gets underway

It’s a wet and windy Friday night as guest coaches arrive with a selection of boards for participants to try out over the weekend.

Participants arrive in advance of the symposium ‘Welcome’ talk.

Our first guest speaker, Zoe Newsam, gets the weekend underway with an insightful talk to guests:

Zoe Newsam's insightful talk
Zoe Newsam delivering an insightful talk

There’s plenty of material as Zoe has paddled on the sea in a wide variety of locations: the Hebrides, Shetland, Northern Ireland and the Irish West Coast, Anglesey, North and South Wales, the Southwest and Northeast of England, and on rivers in the UK, Canada, Slovenia and the French Alps!

It’s a great start to the weekend and everyone is looking forward to getting onto the water the next day.

Saturday 13th August - Our first day on the water

We needn’t have worried about the weather as Friday night’s conditions have cleared and the next two days bring plenty of sunshine.

The kayaks and SUPs are out on display in front of the centre today and it’s great to see such a wide range of kit making its way over for the symposium. Demo boats from P&H, Pyranha, Think & Jobe SUP Boards are all available for participants to try.

Demo kit
Demo kit

The time has come to get on the water so the coaches head out to lead the workshops. Caroline Carr and Sam Dean deliver a SUP session:

First morning's SUP session
First morning’s SUP session

Today’s other sessions include a ‘Sea Performance Clinic’ with Matt Haydock. This is a practical workshop, looking at how to get the most of the body boat blade. This workshop also includes tactical choices for what strokes to use and when.

Matt Haydock heading out to the south of the island
Matt Haydock heading out to the south of the island

There’s a ‘Sea Kayak manoeuvring and handling’ workshop headed up by Zoe Newsam. Zoe provides a practical workshop with great advice on how to control your kayak when the wind or waves are pushing you around!

Zoe Newsam with her group
Zoe Newsam with her group

Myles Farnbank leads a very practical and extremely interesting ‘coastal wild food and fire lighting’ session:

Myles Farnbank introducing the group to the delights of wild food
Myles Farnbank introducing the group to the delights of wild food


It’s been a great day around Cumbrae, with various workshops/sessions taking place. We’re all looking forward to the BBQ and band this evening!

Saturday night’s Entertainment

Before the band gets underway guests are treated to 2 guest speakers, Andrew Morton and Duncan Winning. Andrew delivers a fantastic talk on: “Bagpipes, aerosols and keeping kayaks running in a straight line!”. Not surprisingly this is a fascinating talk from a man who’s not stopped canoeing for more than a few months in the past fifty years!

Andrew Morton's enlightening presentation
Andrew Morton’s enlightening presentation

Next up is Duncan Winning. Duncan gives a slideshow presentation about a recent trip he and Gordon Brown (owner of Skyak Adventures) carried out to Greenland; tracing the history of the modern sea kayak to its ancestral home.

Duncan Winning's historical insight into kayaking
Duncan Winning’s historical insight into kayaking

It’s time for music

Guests are treated to Donal Boyle, with a 3 piece live band, playing acoustic folk music. Donal is a past Cumbrae instructor and is always delighted to get a chance to come back to the centre. Some guests stay up into the wee small hours!

Winding down at the end of the night
Winding down at the end of the night

Sunday 14th August - A second day of fun and challenges

It’s been a late night for some but, after a hearty breakfast, guests are beginning to feel refreshed and ready for today’s activities.

Today’s sessions include many of the workshops from yesterday, giving participants a chance not to miss out. An addition for today is ‘Sea Kayak Sailing’, a workshop delivered by Cumbrae’s Tim Stuart, looking at the world of modern sea kayaking. Sea kayaks are all set up and ready to go to help participants capture the wind. This workshop looks at a variety of aspects, including boat set up.

Zoe Newsam takes participants out on a local full day trip, including practical navigation. It proves to be a great workshop for those new to the area and looking for a little help along the way.

Calum McNicol leads a ‘British Canoeing Discipline support module’ on SUP. This is full day, interactive workshop, covering areas such as how to get others into the discipline of SUP:

Calum McNicol gets the British Canoeing SUP module underway
Calum McNicol gets the British Canoeing SUP module underway

The weekend comes to an end

Cumbrae and Glenmore Lodge reflect back on a weekend packed full of activity. What’s clear is that participants and coaches alike seem to have had a fantastic weekend on the island:

“Thanks for a great Symposium, we really enjoyed it. Easy to book and very accommodating. Food great, tuition great, informative and patient. Lovely to find great coaches who can find solutions to challenges. Like me not being able to get back on that SUP!” (Suzanne and John Roberts).

“A lovely, friendly, relaxed event - looking forward to next year already” (Zoe Newsam)

“What a superb weekend of SUP! Big thanks to Dave, Calum, Caroline and Sam!” (Nick Evens)

One participant summed up the event:

“A great event, with a good balance of coaching between SUP and sea kayak, allowing participants to focus on one discipline, or mix and match. There was an excellent selection of new boats and boards to try. Great food and a fairly quiet, yet accessible location”.

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