The SUPhubUK team
YOUR HUB NEEDS YOU
Do you want to volunteer to moderate or administer SUBHUB? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love your help!
First fell off a SUP in 2012 and have been enthusiastically falling off since then. I’m a Data Specialist for the government by day, occasional writer and have had a stint working for a Stand Up Paddle website where I covered everything from their race calendar to environmental issues to product tests. I enjoy paddling anything that will float with me on it, I race occasionally, surf as often as possible and paddle several times a week sometimes with my labrador on board. I’m a member of Waterborn SUP club in Kingsbridge and a volunteer for Surfers Against Sewage.
Andy is the Director of young upstart SUP brand, McConks.
He has been a keen windsurfer, surfer and SUPper for decades, although family life plus running McConks means that he doesn't spend as much time on the water as he would like.
I'm 40 something - ok, nearly 50 and I am an IT Director working in a large organisation with over 15,000 users. I discovered paddleboarding in 2013 and was instantly hooked. It was a completely different experience to kayaking or boating and I loved it. I've paddleboarded ever since and these days I paddleboard more than I boat. I own 3 boards, one hard board and 2 iSUPS and I'm always looking for another one. My ambition is to learn to SUP surf properly, I've never mastered surfing, but I've had hours of fun trying!
Richard's a keen SUPper and is most often seen out on the water at Central SUP
Q. Great – another site that claims to be everything and anything to the SUP community. Do we really need another website?
A. Absolutely! We know that there are several great Facebook SUP groups for UK paddlers and that they are great for arranging paddles, selling kit and exchanging banter, But we also know that it can be difficult to keep track of what's happening in all the groups and it's a bit hit and miss finding (and joining) new groups. We know that when content is shared it's not always visible to all and that if you’re not a member of a group you cannot see whats going on. Facebook is simply too popular!
We’ve also seen comment that there is no single place to find SUP events and that it’s easy to miss events on increasingly crowed timelines. Paddlers missing events is bad for organisers and for paddlers.
And, possibly more importantly, there are quite a few people out there who don’t use social media, strange as that sounds to someone who’s grown up with it being part of daily life. Creating a SUP Hub outside of social media makes it more accessible to everyone, you don’t have to register to find things on the Hub.
Q. OK, got that. But aren’t there already maps or lists of clubs out there?
A. Yes there are but these maps are moderated, some of them are selective and others sit on pay per view sites. Generally they need to be manually updated by the host and it’s fair to say that some are not as up to date as they might be.
The map on SUPhub is open to anyone to update; register your club, school, shop or your local sup-spot. By making it open to everyone it’s is far more likely to be up to date and be inclusive. We will keep an eye on it from time to time who because this is something that is important to us. Sharing the Stoke as far and wide as possible.
Q. So what is the full content of SUPhubUK ?
A. SUPhubUK started out with a map, this was the most obvious thing missing for UK Paddlers. We’ve used a public google map and we have several layers including clubs, schools, shops and spots. We’ve used data from all the sources we could think of to get the map started, and have now handed it over to the SUP community to grow. We’ve even created a video to show people how to add their own points.
It’s fair to say that the forum is there as a trial. There are many people who think that the days of forums, or fora are numbered, or even that forums are now obsolete in the era of Facebook groups. But Facebook has limitations and we think that there is a place for forums in the modern social media world.
We’ve also recently added an events calendar, which crawls Facebook and aggregates events from sites that we could find, the nice thing about the SUPHub calendar is that once we’ve linked to an event we will automatically pick up any changes or new events added to the same page. It's not that we're lazy but we want to spend as much time as possible on the water not sat in front of our laptops!
We can also import events from other sources and as a last resort we will sit down and start hitting keys to get it done. We hope to improve how these events are filtered and labelled in the long run, as the number of events increases and inevitably makes a simple calendar unwieldy.
We’ve also very recently added a knowledge page, which will contain links to useful sources of information – such as the NGB pages, magazine pages etc.
Looking ahead (as all good paddlers do!) we’re looking to make a brands page, which could contain a couple of paragraphs about each of the SUP brands available in the UK, and links to their respective sites. Anyone from the brands out there that we’re not already talking to, please contact us and we'll sort you out.
Q. You keep talking about we. Who is this team? What are your SUP creds? Who pays for the website?
A. SUPhubUK arose from a number of chance conversations between Andy McConkey, Chris Jones, Nik Smeltzer and Richard Smith. We’re all enthusiastic paddlers who happen to share a background in IT. Andy happens to be the head honcho at McConks and Chris has spent some time working as a freelancer writer and tester for a SUP website and is a contributor to SUPM. In strict legal terms, we're a not for profit unincorporated association.
McConks sponsors the website right now – just paying for the domain and hosting until the site is established. But the intention is for the site to become a not for profit company (company limited by guarantee) that is self sustainable in the future, and not in the control of any single brand or individual. And we see this being achieved with a minimum of sponsorship just paying the costs for the site to be maintained by volunteers.
Find out more about the team here. And if you want to join the team – please let us know. The more the merrier.
Q. Anything new planned?
A. Although the website is optimised for mobiles, we’re thinking about creating android and IOS mobile apps. This will make it easier to read and add topics on the forums and simplify how you add points, photos and comments to the maps.
We’re also thinking of running regular photo competitions or seasonal challenges. We’ve seen this work well in some US facebook groups, but it hasn’t translated so well into the UK groups so far. Examples in the US have included 100 miles 33 degrees and below (in fahrenheit of course!) where paddlers who log 100 winter cold miles get a small plaque, or a facebook profile pic overlay. We’d love to hear from anyone who’s got ideas for seasonal challenges, or wants to donate prizes.
And finally, it’s been suggested that SUP Is missing a directory of challenge firsts (eg first individual to paddle around Menorca (Roger Chandler), first person to paddle around Anglesey unsupported (Tony Bain). So we’re considering how we can add this feature.
Q. OK. I’m sold. Where do I go to find out more
A. Excellent! Everyone is welcome on board at SUPhubUK.com. And when you visit, can we ask a favour? Check out your club/school/shop/spot is on the map and if not, add them. It’s easy! Who you’ve done that go take a look at the calendar and say ‘Hi’ on the chat. if you think something is missing from the calendar let us know and if you have something to add to the knowledge pages start typing.
We’d also love to get some feedback so if you think the site is useful, or not, tell us! We’re all volunteers, and we’re only doing this because we think it’s a useful resource for the SUP community. If it’s not let us know.
See you on the water!