Torbay could become 'new Newquay' as it eyes up major UK title

SUP paddlers at sunset
SUP paddlers at sunset -Credit:Krzysztof Kowalik/Unsplash free download

Torbay is setting its sights on becoming the ‘new Newquay’ as the UK capital for one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

Tourism leaders say the ‘blue economy’ could be worth millions for the English Riviera as the popularity of watersports grows.

The bay has already secured a major championship event for stand-up paddleboards (SUP) this year, and now it is looking to get more.

“Our vision is to make the English Riviera the SUP capital of the UK,” said Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of the English Riviera BID tourism company. “Just as we saw Newquay develop into the surfing capital of the UK, so we want this to be the SUP capital.”

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The English Riviera SUP Championships on 28 and 29 September will bring the country’s top stand-up paddleboarders to Torbay for races, training sessions and activities on shore.

Organisers hope it will also bring a major boost for the bay’s tourist trade. Brendon Prince, the man behind the championships, says it is part of a four-year plan to bring international-standard SUP events to the bay, and Torbay’s tourism leaders say the sport could be key to the future.

A former teacher, Mr Prince holds nine SUP world records and entered the Guinness Book of records after his epic round-Britain paddle in 2021. He uses his SUP adventures to promote sea safety.

“We are going to see SUP become a major new initiative for the area,” said Mrs Custerson. “It’s the next new watersport for the bay, because the bay is sheltered, and it’s got Brendon Prince!”

Supporters of the SUP project are aiming to have Torbay among the contenders to host the world championships within four years.

Mrs Custerson said she hoped to see the bay making more use of its natural resources in the coming years with events such as the SUP championships.

“We’ve got marinas,” she said. “We’ve got the yacht clubs, we’ve got leisure boat users, dinghy sailors, fishing and kayakers. We’ve got the blue economy, which for this resort has not yet been realised.

“We’ve got 44 different watersports clubs, and if they all get behind the vision for activities on the water we’d see a lot more going on.

“When we had 120 SUPs at Broadsands for an event a few weeks ago, 50 per cent of those 120 people stayed in local hotels.”