EAST SUSSEX, England - Supconnect profile's British paddler, snowboarder, personal trainer and ASI instructor, Robin Williams.
EAST SUSSEX, England - This week we had the good fortune of catching up with British paddler, snowboarder, personal trainer and ASI instructor, Robin Williams, to find out more about him and the SUP scene in the United Kingdom.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in London but we moved south where I grew up on a farm! As a family we also spent a lot of time on the sea sailing with my Dad.
Can you tell us about when you first got your feet wet and decided to pursue a lifestyle in water sports?
Pretty much from when I was born. My parents were keen sailors so my first experiences were before I could even walk, I then got involved with dingy sailing, rowing and surfing once I could walk.
When did you start Stand Up Paddling?
SUPing is pretty new to me, one of friends who’s a keen windsurfer had a Stand Up board about 4/5 years back and introduced it to me on a flat day when there was no wind – I was hooked instantly and have made Stand Up a part of my life ever since.
Where is your local paddling spot - can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m pretty lucky with where I live; I can walk to the end of my road, drop my board in the river and paddle out to sea. I live in a town called Lewes in East Sussex. But being that we live on a tiny island I can also be found exploring different inland waterways around the country as well seeking out the surf on the coast.
What is the SUP scene in the UK like and how is the sport growing there?
It’s great! More and more people are getting involved and I love it when someone at the beach or river asks me about the boards, I even offer to let them try! There is definitely a real community feel. There are more and more clubs popping up around the country and a strong competitive scene for those who like racing.
What are some of the best things about SUP'ing in the UK that most people don't know about?
Access to so many bodies of water, the sea is obvious but we have a great network of rivers and lakes, canals etc. this year in London saw one of the biggest entered Stand Up races – even Jamie Mitchell took part!
What happens now in the winter - do you brave the cold or hop across to warmer climates to go paddling?
Good question! Well, I’ve hit the South West of France at this time of year and Southern Cali. But we get some of our best waves at this time of the year in the UK, so it’s all about the thick wetsuit and just getting involved – I actually look forward to it at this time of the year as the beaches start to clear out and some of the surfing is quality! So yes we brave the cold!!
Who do you enjoy following and watching in the SUP world today?
Hmm, I’ve got huge respect for people like Dave Kalama, Laird Hamilton and Robbie Naish as they are still charging and leading the way. I think Kai is a great role model for the sport and an amazing athlete. Anabel Anderson also sets the bar not only for the women but also puts a lot of men to shame – I remember lifeguarding with her a few years back at the world triathlon championships and she is a real athlete.
What gear do you use and who are your current sponsors?
I have two sponsors one for clothing and one for sunglasses and watches: Kamikaze boarding and Breo.com. I’m currently using a 12’6 Naish board for racing, training and touring. I just recently won the first Brighton and Hove SUPathlon on this board. And for surfing I’ve gone down the route of custom boards using a local shaper called Charlie Grey. My go-to is a 7’10 fish – the board just works well and suits the conditions we have in the UK.
What’s the best and worst thing about SUP today?
The fact that anyone can give it a try you don’t need to have a sports or watersports background – I think it’s great when someone completely new to it gets their first experience and then loves it!
To keep up to date with Robin, follow him on Twitter: @RobinWilliams.
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