Geoff and Cheryl Vigors launched Coffs Jetty SUP as a retirement project.
Geoff and Cheryl Vigors launched Coffs Jetty SUP as a retirement project. Belinda Scott

Stand-up paddle boarding to renew the body, mind

GEOFF Vigors is the brickie who knocked off work to carry boards.

Geoff and his wife Cheryl introduced stand up paddle board (SUPS) hire to Coffs Coast residents and visitors more than four years ago when they started their new business, Coffs Jetty SUP.

There were several catalysts for the venture – Geoff's increasingly problematic dermatitis after 45 years of work as a bricklayer; his allergy to treated pine, now widely used in building and his increasing frustration with his renovation and 'spec' building business.

Coffs Jetty SUP was sparked by a visit to the Gold Coast visit when a paddle on the boards in Currumbin Creek left Geoff thinking "that's not a bad job for retirement."

The deal was clinched when son Kade told his father: "Get rid of the building side-you're' getting crankier every minute."

While some locals were already buying and paddling their own SUPs around the Mid North Coast's abundant waterways, no one was hiring the paddle boards and teaching newbies how to use them.

Coffs Harbour City Council proved amenable to their proposal and they were able to set up on Jetty Beach and later expand to a second site at Boambee Creek Reserve, which offers wave-free water.

Today Geoff and Cheryl's SUPs are a fixture on the sporting calendar of a roll call of local schools, community groups and individuals from Kempsey to Dorrigo and Grafton and some of their most enthusiastic 'newbies' are people who have seen a lot of birthdays.

"The good thing about it is that any age can do it," Geoff said.

An 80 year old grandfather who went paddling with his 14 year old grandon told Geoff:"you've made my year – I never thought I'd be able to do a sport with my grandson."

Cheryl said it was a great family activity because everyone could do equally as well at it and people of all levels of fitness and all sizes could paddle the boards.

"Even if you can't stand on the boards, you can kneel or sit and paddle," she said – "In four years we have had only one person who could not get to standing and she was able to sit on the board and paddle."

"Just being out on the water is a beautiful sensation."

Cheryl said the pleasures of SUPs were not restricted to pleasant exercise in the open air.

"You see all sorts of things," she said.

"At the moment there is a turtle swimming in Boambee Creek – and one of the biggest flathead I've ever seen – he is definitely more than three feet (one metre) long."

Geoff recently co-ordinated the rescue of a sick pelican from Boambee Creek, with the help of a tourist and his canoe.


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