Southport residents stand up paddle board to the Lennox Platform

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Southport residents Alan Taylor, Simon Dunton and Lucy Pearce - Team SUP North - ticked off another stand up paddleboard (SUP) adventure this weekend when they took advantage of the better weather and paddled out for a closer look at the Lennox oil and gas rig
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Despite only starting to 'SUP' a few months ago they are all now fairly obsessed with the sport, whether they're having a leisurely paddle on Southport marine lake, seeking a rare wave at Ainsdale beach, training or taking part in races.
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The Lennox trip has been in the pipeline for a couple of months and conditions looked right, (including family plans!) on Saturday. 

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Lucy says, 'When we arrived at Ainsdale the wind was, as forecast, light and on shore - but it was bitterly cold! By the time we were changed and ready to set off it had really picked up and felt even colder, but an on-shore wind meant that if we didn't make it all the way, we would at least have some assistance on the way back, so we set off, with Alan's Dad keeping an eye on our progress from the beach.

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The outward journey was tough going, with about 10mph winds and plenty of choppy waves. Our boards, although inflatable, are rigid and deal surprisingly well with bumps, although Simon's sea legs failed him a few times and he got quite wet. While cold feet can sometimes be a problem in the winter, the sea felt warm for the time of year, helped by the unusual appearance of the sun!

The boys took a few breaks, having a rest using both boards as a raft, but as I'm a bit slower I was always playing catch-up so paddled on. The rig didn't seem to be getting closer, but we could see our progress by watching the wind turbines off Liverpool pass by, as well as tracking our position with GPS.

The wind must have dropped a little as we made it and felt dwarfed by the massive platform. We didn't get too close, but the cormorants who make it their home flew off and we could hear the hum of the rig. It's huge, despite the fact that it's un-manned with no accommodation - made that way to be less obtrusive from the shore apparently! By this time the tide was rising and staying still for a photo was almost impossible. It had taken us three hours to paddle the five miles out and it was time to head for shore.
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Our only disappointment was that we hadn't seen any more wildlife than Cormorants, Oyster Catchers, Gulls and the odd Shelduck. But, as we approached the beach and our welcoming committee we spotted a shiny black object in the water - a seal! We've been keeping our eyes out for them for months now, having had a few glimpses late last year, and it really rounded off a brilliant day. We couldn't believe he was so close to the shore and it's worth noting that he only appeared when Alan randomly started singing!

The total distance paddled was 10 miles, including a circuit around the rig to get a good view and a few photos. It's fair to say we were tired out when we finally got our boards back to our vans - even pushing open the door of the fish and chip shop was difficult!'

Stand Up Paddleboarding is a fantastic, versatile leisure activity that gets people of all ages and abilities outside and enjoying our coast and waterways. SUP North will be offering taster sessions and lessons in Southport this summer as they work with the UK stand up paddleboard community to spread the word and introduce more people to the sport. They are also opening an on-line shop selling Red Paddle Co inflatable SUP boards, that fit into a rucksack and can even be taken on holiday. For more information contact the team on [email protected]

Photographs by Alan Taylor

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