SUP is a sport that sits nicely beside windsurfing, giving us windsurfers no excuse for sitting on the beach when the wind fails to materialise. Whether it be a long distance paddle or heading out to catch some waves, most windsurfers have caught the SUP bug too. Boards catches up with Joe Thwaites from Loco SUP, a SUP company with routes in windsurfing looking to push the boundaries of SUP design.
Loco is comprised of a number of collaborators; some paid, some stoked to be part of something new and exciting, some just along for the ride. The main driving force behind the brand is Joe Thwaites who’s been teaching people to paddle surf through his Tynemouth based school (Boardskillz) for almost five years. Bouke Becker from Witchcraft Sailboards Fuerteventura transforms Joe’s ‘often demanding’ concepts into reality. He also acts as Loco’s construction consultant ensuring that strength is key but not at the expense of weight. Current National Paddlesurf Champion Andre’ Le Geht continues to test all of our boards and he’s taking an increasingly more active role in R&D.
Joe started the brand just over a year ago as he felt the first and second generation offerings from the usual suspects weren’t cutting it in the surf, weights were poor, the aesthetic was lacking and prices were prohibitive for the average person wanting to get into SUP. He wanted to simplify the buying process offering a core line of boards that could work differently depending on rider weights, ability and aspirations.
Loco is home grown so our boards have been designed specifically for European conditions. All our boards have surf optimised rocker lines that simply outmanoeuvre other boards of similar size. We manage to achieve the impossible by packing more volume into shorter outlines but not at the expense of performance, making our boards really user-friendly. We provide GoPro mounts, double leash plugs, ¾ deck pads and proper fins as standard (most don’t). We offer a personal, friendly service and can offer time-served advice on everything from board selection to more advanced information on optimised fin set up. We primarily sell direct so we can offer bleeding edge, lightweight constructions at sensible price points, frequently offering package deals on full carbon paddles and other accessories.
In the future we’re looking into distributing the brand internationally. Hopefully Andre competing for Team GB at the World Championships in Peru this month will be a step in the right direction. R&D never stands still at Loco. We’re currently developing two very different, radical surf shapes which we’ll look to put into production in 2014. We’re also playing around with various elements of our race boards in our quest for the ultimate glide. We’re making real progress with our accessories and interest in our merchandise has been fantastic so we’re looking to offer these more widely in 2013. We’re also looking to recruit fresh talent and motivated brand ambassadors to spread the Loco love in the UK and further afield. We’re also interested working with more SUP savvy retailers in key areas to compliment our demo days that will be kicking off in the spring.
“I’ve been windsurfing from a very early age but got back into it properly in my mid 20s. Since then I’ve graduated through the ranks from flat water enthusiast to motivated wave sailor. I take a very active role in the local scene, acting as social secretary for the Northumbrian Windsurfing Club as well as teaching beginners through my windsurfing and paddleboard school. I also organise the Northumberland Wave Slam which is a forecast-driven amateur wave sailing competition which attracts wave heads from far and wide.
SUP is a great alternative for when you get skunked by the wind. It’s much easier to learn than traditional surfing. The paddle effectively replaces the rig so it kind of feels intuitive and the foot placement is very similar to carving a windsurfer out of the straps. It’s fantastic exercise and is proven to promote core strength and stability. The surfing side certainly helps as cross training for windsurfing and the extra no wind hours you get in the waves will give you the advantage next time you’re windsurfing! Typically I SUP two to three times more than I windsurf annually, as it provides so many more options.”
To check out their progressive 2013 shapes please visit www.loco-sup.com or to speak with Joe direct call 44 7779 127230. For the latest videos/snaps/competitions/news features find them at www.facebook.com/locosup and to keep up on twitter @loco_sup.