News / floating harbour

Paddleboarding in the docks under threat

By Martin Booth, Friday Aug 18, 2023

In a turbulent year for the Floating Harbour, Bristol’s original paddleboarding company are losing their storage facilities, putting the future of paddleboarding in the docks at risk.

Over the last few years, stand-up paddleboarders have become as well-known a site in the harbour as the ferry boats and the Matthew.

But following a review of harbour fees and the devastating fire at Underfall Yard, there is a real fear that SUP Bristol could be forced to close after a decade in operation.

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SUP Bristol currently rent space from Bristol Maritime Academy, subletting part of a unit from them within Underfall Yard.

The academy now need that space back, however, and SUP Bristol will have to leave this winter, a situation which the team describe as “truly gutting”.

You don’t have to stand up if you don’t want to – photo: Katy Layton

Despite not currently using space owned by Bristol City Council, they are asking the local authority to rent them somewhere to store their boards so they can continue to provide paddleboarding on the docks.

Time is now running out to get things sorted for 2024 and without storage facilities, the company may be forced to close.

Founded in 2014 by Kate Ingham and Tim Trew, SUP Bristol runs ten members sessions each week, as well as tours, skills courses and instructor training.

Their work to broaden participation in watersports also includes social prescribing projects, litter picks and a partnership with People of Colour Paddle.

They run youth and community sessions on the water and water safety sessions for schools. They also organise charity events, with this year’s Stand up for Safe Water event raising £12,000 for Frank Water.

There aren’t many more picturesque places for paddleboarding than Bristol’s docks – photo: Katy Layton

Tim said: “It’s clear SUP Bristol is vital for so many of our members’ mental and physical health, and we’re a huge draw for visitors too.

“We’re asking Bristol City Council to rent us some space to store our boards so we can continue to provide for locals and tourists alike.

“The mayor commented that the docks are for a ‘privileged few’. In fact, there is amazing work going on from many organisations in the harbour. It would be a huge loss to the city if this can’t be sustained.”

Bristol24/7 understands that private and council-owned areas for storage are currently in high demand from leisure and boating organisations using the Floating Harbour for their activities.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “While SUP Bristol have not rented space from the council for a few years, we are in discussion with them about potential options.”

Main photo: Katy Layton

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