The Outdoors Show 2008

NEC Birmingham

The Outdoors Show is a big event held over three days at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Spread over two halls and the lake it had a wide range of outdoor activities catered form hiking, mountain boarding, kayaking and of course stand up paddle boarding.


The outdoor show NEC

BSUPA was invited to the event by Richard Harpham from He wanted us to demo our new sport and let people have a go at it on the lake. I was not convinced people would want a go on a lake, in Birmingham, in March. I was proved wrong and we had a steady flow of people getting out onto the water and giving it a go. John Hibbard was there doing his bit for FatFace and he found time to pop over and demo as well as taking some people out onto the water.

BSUPA at the NEC

I was surprised how quickly people who had never tried SUP before picked it up. This was helped by there being no wind or chop on the water, but before I could stop them some beginners had taken out my 9’11’’ GONG board. I thought this would prove too low volume for them, but they got on fine. The kids especially liked the 9’11’’ and were soon paddling all over the lake and using the paddles to throw a ball around water polo style (I have to admit we joined in with the water polo thing).

SUP boards at the NEC
SUP boards at the NEC

What was suprising was how many people had heard of stand up paddling, even if they had not seen it in the flesh. We were sharing the lake with the British Kayak teams and the GB rafting team, which led to some interesting conversations about what would and would’nt be possible on a SUP board. In the end we decided that a trip to Holme Pierpoint to try surfing on the standing wave was in order, we hope to do this later this year.

The show itself was very interesting and I managed to pick up lots of bits that I will be reviewing here on stand up paddling UK, such as energy drinks and bars, a rescue strobe for all you distance offshore paddlers and various waterproof containers for electronic car keys. Watch this space !