Paddleboarding craze rocks up on Norfolk Broads

The paddleboard surfing craze which has swept up Britain's surfing community in the south west hit the Norfolk Broads for the first time yesterday- and is set to grow in popularity.

A 16-strong group of surfers of all ages participated in the inaugural Norfolk Broads Classic race, which featured a 13 mile race from Wayford Bridge in Stalham to Martham and a shorter five mile race from Thurne to Martham.

Unlike conventional surfboarding where participants lay down on the board, paddleboarding involves standing up on the board and using a paddle to propel the board through the water.

The sport was pioneered by Thomas Edward Blake, who created the first paddleboards during the 1930s based on boards used by ancient Hawaiian kings.

Since then, paddleboarding has become popular in the surfing communities of the USA, particularly California and has spread to Britain where many have taken up paddleboarding in the south west.

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Saturday's race was a successful start for Rollesby cousins Jai and Arlen Curtis, 13 and 12 respectively. Jai won the boys' short race from Thurne in a time of 1 hour 17 mins, while Arlen was not far behind in a time of 1 hour 27 mins.

Race organiser Helen Shackle said the times were particularly good because the boys had not been doing paddleboarding for long.

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The overall winner was Steve West, of Hayling Island in Hampshire, who won the adult 13 mile race in a time of 2 hours 54 mins, while Paul Banham completed the five mile adult race in 1 hour 3 mins.

Miss Shackle said many of the paddleboarders were attracted to the Norfolk race by the uniqueness of racing on a river rather than at sea and the river had good tidal waters.

She added: 'The people who had a go at the race were raving about it. The children who took part had a whale of a time.'

Martham Boats, which organised the race, offers two hour paddleboarding training sessions teaching water safety and how to deal with the river.

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