Action and Adventure: A List of The Top 5 Water Sports to Try This Summer
As the warm weather starts to settle in, your mind may well be turning to thoughts of summer holidays and long sunny days spent on the beach. And we all know that when the mercury rises, there's nothing more enchanting than the idea of cooling off in crystal-clear waters or taking a dip in the deep blue sea. Rather than just a simple splash in shallow waters though, why not take things one step further this summer, throwing yourself into the deep end and diving headfirst into the world of water sports? Picking up an aquatic activity promises plenty of fun and is the best way to keep up your fitness when hot weather can otherwise leave you feeling lethargic and unable to exercise. Quite conveniently, the UK's island status means there's no shortage of stunning coastlines nearby for practicing a water-based hobby, which is a huge bonus for sports-loving Brits! Keen to get in on the action? Read our list of five water sports to discover this summer, grab your swimwear (or wetsuit), and go!
What is the most popular water sport? Let's start with surfing...
If you're a bit of a thrill-seeker, then surfing (or its sister sports like bodyboarding, bodysurfing and skimboarding) is sure to bring you boat loads of enjoyment and that much-desired adrenaline rush. If you've experienced this water sport before, you'll know nothing beats that heady feeling of riding a wave, in total harmony with your board. What they say is definitely true… The board becomes part of your body, meaning the sensation you get from gliding across the roaring ocean is unbelievably freeing! Challenging, invigorating, and empowering in the way it essentially defies the laws of nature and lets you walk on water, there's no doubt that surfing promises pleasure to the max. Not only is embracing the waves in this manner an exhilarating experience, it is perhaps also the purest way to connect with the natural world and its untamed waters. Plus, surfing can lead you to uncover some of the most beautiful spots across the UK; to name but a few, Cornwall, Devon and Portrush in County Antrim are some luscious locations that provide the ideal conditions for surfers of all abilities. Before you take on the tide in quest of the perfect wave though, it's worth signing up to a few surfing lessons to help you master the basics. If you commit to putting in a bit of hard work at the beginning, you're guaranteed to reap the rewards later on, being able to push yourself harder and face bigger and better challenges. If you're just setting out, then luckily for you surfing requires little equipment, making it a pretty accessible water sport. Invest in a surfboard, leash, wetsuit, fins and surf wax and you're good to go. So come on, conquer the waves this summer!
Why not try out windsurfing?
If you're blessed with optimum wind conditions, then windsurfing is an easier water sport to master than you might expect. That being said, it does require good balance! Since it relies on strong core strength and precision of movement, and since there is an art involved in controlling the sail, windsurfing is also one of the more strenuous water activities to perform. While it may not be for everyone, if you've already got a reasonable level of fitness and you're looking to sculpt your body and stay in shape, you may have just found your ideal new hobby for the summer season... What's great about windsurfing is that its practice is not limited to location – you can windsurf in the sea, but also on lakes and rivers if you're not directly next to the coast. Why not head to Hayling Island in Hampshire where windsurfing was born in 1958, or to bonnie Loch Lomond for a picturesque introduction to the sport? Another perk to this adrenaline-fueled activity is that with each day you practice it comes a new challenge; wave and wind conditions are forever changing, meaning there's no room for boredom and no risk of you growing too comfortable – the speed at which you move and the strength necessitated to steer your course are always shifting. While it may take a little practice until you're planing, that feeling of skimming flat waters will have you wanting to practice this special sport over and over again.
Paddle boarding: one of those water activities that's all the rage right now
A more recent phenomenon, paddle boarding has become an extraordinarily popular water sport worldwide. The reason for this may well rest in the fact that it can be undertaken by anyone and everyone – no particular expertise is required and no initiation into the sport is necessary. While you can of course take some lessons if you're looking to perfect your skills, there's nothing stopping you from jumping on your board and learning the knack independently. Just make sure you follow a few safety guidelines, notably attaching yourself to your board and being confident in your swimming ability should you fall off – this really is essential. The real beauty with paddle boarding, however, is that it can enable you to explore your surroundings in a unique and unconventional way; instead of a walk along the beach you can trace the shore from a different angle, or you can cover the entire circumference of a lake, unhampered by undergrowth or incomplete footpaths. There are no-end of coastlines, waterways, lakes and other bodies of water worth exploring across the UK, but if you're looking to paddle in an exceptionally scenic spot – calmer waters are best for this sport – some special recommendations include Ullswater Lake in the Lake District, Scotland's River Tay and Stackpole Quay, which sits along Pembrokeshire's National Park coastline (if you're not familiar with them all ready, read up on Wales' three National Parks right here). Since you'll be distracted by stunning sites, it won't even cross your mind that you're exerting yourself physically. So, if you're seeking a therapeutic water sport, it's time to get to your feet – stand-up paddle boarding is for you!
Set off sailing and discover the great outdoors
Classed as an Olympic sport since 1900, sailing is a renowned aquatic activity that requires a fair amount of know-how. While lessons are generally required to learn the tricks of the trade, getting to grips with sailing leads to a great sense of accomplishment. On top of that, what's wonderful about sailing is that it's open to anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. It's a versatile sport that can be performed solo or as part of a team and that, contrary to popular belief, doesn't actually require a big boat – a simple catamaran will enable you to embrace the waves and experience life at sea. What's more, this sport can be practiced competitively (it's worth noting that there's huge diversity when it comes to sailing races) or enjoyed recreationally. To put it short, sailing is a particularly adaptable activity! It's enjoyment factor primarily lies in the fact that the boat is forever at the mercy of tide direction and wind conditions, resulting in constant challenges and a need for skill and strategy. This world-famous activity is also adored because it provides unparalleled opportunity for adventure, even if just for a few hours. Instead of a pitch with carefully marked out boundaries, this sport is played out in the expanse of the ocean! Getting into sailing may lead you to explore new islands and uncover unknown areas of coastline. All in all, it's a rare sport that provides limitless possibility!
Looking to experience an extreme water sport? Give wakeboarding a whirl!
Wakeboarding is the ultimate water sport for adrenaline junkies! Similar in style to water skiing, it involves a person being towed along at the back of a fast-moving boat. However, instead of water skis, this sport will see you ride the waves on a wide board. What's so enthralling about wakeboarding is not only the velocity at which you glide over the water's surface (a speed of about 50km per hour), but also the acrobatics and cool tricks you perform along the way! A jaw-dropping sport to watch, it borrows impressive techniques from snowboarding, surfing and (as already hinted) water skiing. As well as guaranteeing great fun, this aquatic activity – often a favourite all-inclusive holiday offering – is ideal if you're looking to tone up and work on your balance. Core strength is the name of the game when it comes to practicing this sport... If you're just setting out, we suggest kick starting your wakeboarding journey on a lake or in one of the UK's many specially constructed wakeboarding parks, where the calmer water conditions will enable you to find your feet quicker.
What are you waiting for? Discover the benefits and importance of water sports today!
Challenging, liberating, explorative and a great source of exercise, the benefits of watersports are manifold. They're good for the body, mind and soul, and are particularly refreshing in the heat of summer. So long as you're confident in water, there's little not to love about them. While the above are our five favourites, there are plenty of other water sports to get involved in too, including kayaking, water skiing, white water rafting, parasailing and freediving. Whichever activity you choose to embrace, we promise you're in for a treat! If you're a real water baby, then perhaps our rundown of the best beaches to visit in UK will equally be of interest to you – you never know, you may discover a dream location where you can put your newfound hobby to good practice. If, however, your appreciation for open waters doesn't run so deep and you prefer to keep your activities land-based, maybe our essential tips for getting into running will instead encourage you to pick up a new sport this summer! With warm days ahead, it's prime time to work up a sweat...