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The fun started on Friday night (2nd September) when we met up with the team who had just completed the 2nd leg of the Thames River Relay, from whom we would pick up the baton of Thames source water in the morning. 

As we walked along the banks of the river we could see their fire glowing up ahead where team were making dinner. After a warm and jolly welcome we settled down to swap SUP tales under a beautifully clear night’s sky with the faint sound of sheep bleating in the background. We then bedded down for the night under a convenient tree, perfect for stringing up a tarp. 

The joy of waking up and having the sunrise be the first thing you see never gets old. It calls you to jump out of your sleeping bag and get cracking with the day.

The Saturday morning was all about logistics. We had to take the car to the end point with all our camping gear, then get a lift back to the start, pick up a cheery extra paddler and coffee en-route. Then we were ready to jump on the boards kindly lent to us by Kev from SUP Gloucester who had run the previous day’s leg and get paddling.

We started our leg at Eynsham Lock where we were also joined by the lovely Cathy and Arnaud who had come over to the UK specifically to complete 6 legs of the relay and we were delighted to have them with us for the YesTribe leg. At this point we had 12 miles and 3 locks ahead of us before the end at Iffley Lock. Once we’d covered around 5 miles we stopped for lunch at a lovely pub that even had a peacock to keep us company as the rain started to fall. 

Crowding under an umbrella, as there was no room in the pub for us, we opted for desert over going back onto the water and into the heavy rain. Luckily that was just long enough for it to ease of a little and then it was on-wards to the end. 

It was great to be out on the water making new friends and being a part of the much bigger relay, even if it was a little damp, and we even completed the challenge in a pretty good time. Interestingly, SUPing in the rain isn’t as bad as you imagine, when the river water washes over your feet it actually feels pretty warm. 

The Thames River Relay continues and you can join them on Sunday 17th September for lots of fun SUPing in west London. Find out more on Facebook here.

Author: Fiona Quinn


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