Exploring Essex's waterways with Frangipani SUP

by Ed Scott

Located on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, the riverside town of Maldon is home to Frangipani SUP, a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) school which puts friendliness and accessibility first. 

Since founding Frangipani in 2013, husband and wife team Anni and Mike have assembled a large and experienced team of level 1 and 2 SUP Instructors. They run a wide variety of British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA) approved sessions, for those looking to learn, practice, and gain qualifications in SUP. 

We spoke to Anni to find out more about what makes this unique paddlesport so popular.

river blackwater frangipani sup
Frangipani SUP run SUP tours in historic Maldon

Why stand-up paddleboarding?

“SUP is so accessible,” Anni told us with a smile. “Our ‘Ready to Ride’ session covers all the basics in two and a half hours. By the end of the session everyone’s paddling around pretty happily.” 

With exclusive paddling access to the lake at Trifarm sports centre, Frangipani are able to offer their BSUPA 'Ready to Ride' beginner sessions in a relaxed environment, free from tidal currents. “Friendliness is our core belief. We try to be welcoming, to nurture people and to help them discover the sport. We want people to feel at ease.” 

For those looking to take their SUP skills to the next level, Frangipani also offer SUPSkillz and Paddle Practise sessions, BSUPA Level 2 Ready to Race and Ready to Tour courses, race team training, SUPFit sessions, and BSUPA Level 1 Instructor Courses at Homewater Lake in Chigborough.

“The great thing about SUP is that you can take it as far as you want to," said Anni. "It’s a fantastic sport in that way, because it offers something for everyone.” 

SUP Trifarm Essex
SUPpers at Home Water Lake, near Maldon

The story of Frangipani SUP

Although SUP has become their passion, it was dinghy sailing that first drew Anni and Mike to the water - the couple even competed at the European international level. But in 2013, whilst they were on holiday in Lanzarote, they took part in a SUP lesson, and a spark was lit. They quickly bought paddleboards and started paddling back in Essex. 

“Many people had never seen a SUP board before,” Anni told us. “First they’d ask what it was, then the second question was, ‘Can you please teach me to do that?!’”

Recognising people’s hunger to take part, Anni and Mike completed instructor qualifications via the British Stand Up Paddle Association (BSUPA) and set up Frangipani SUP. Over the last eight years, they’ve helped popularise the sport through their business, which they named after their favourite flower, the frangipani. 

“We are as passionate about it as we have ever been,” Anni said. “We really strive for high standards in every aspect of our business. That’s just how we are motivated - we take paddling very seriously.”

Frangipani SUP instructor Lucy
Frangipani SUP instructor Lucy at Trifarm lake

Magnificent Maldon

With Maldon and the rest of eastern Essex on their doorstep, it’s not hard to see why Anni and Mike are so passionate about SUP. It’s the ideal way to explore their beautiful corner of the UK.

“We’re right on the Blackwater Estuary and we are surrounded by water here. When we got back from Lanzarote, we looked at all this water and thought, ‘This is amazing, we can go paddling!’”

In 2020, Anni told us, Mike spent even more time on local waterways. “He set out to paddle 100km over the course of a month, to raise money for St James’s Place Charitable Foundation, who were supporting vulnerable people during COVID-19.”

In the end, Mike smashed his target and paddled over 100 miles in June 2020, contributing to more than £10,000 raised in the process. 

Mike Frangipani SUP charity paddle Maldon Essex
Mike en route to 100+ miles of SUP!

Looking forwards

Thankfully, once restrictions eased, Anni and Mike were able to resume leading SUP classes. “Quite soon after the first lockdown ended, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing,” said Anni. “People were more interested than ever before.”

Anni is hopeful that this newfound enthusiasm will stick, and that more people will consider taking up SUP as a way of staying healthy, fit, and - most importantly for Frangipani - social. “Meeting people has been the best thing about setting up Frangipani SUP. We’ve met some fantastic people, people we wouldn’t have met in a million years if we didn’t have the business.” 

The social aspect is especially important for Anni and Mike given the passion they hold for their local community. “Maldon is a thriving maritime town, with a thriving waterfront. As a small business with a maritime focus, we feel part of that community now, which is very special.” 

Frangipani SUP class on the River Chelmer Essex
Come for the SUP, stay for the people!

If you’d like to try out stand-up paddleboarding with Frangipani SUP, take a look at the activities they have on offer. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced paddler looking to take things to the next level, you can be sure to find a friendly session that’s right for you.

In the mood for adventure? Find and book your next experience on the eola marketplace! And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest exciting activities and experiences. 

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