Steve Thorp is now a fully-fledged Loco rider and he’s looking forward to getting some quality SUP time over the coming months.
Thorpy on a smaller day – pic Richard White
As the owner of K4 Fins (now supplied as standard with all Loco boards) the guy knows a thing or two about shredding waves. Whether it’s with a windsurf board attached to his feet, weaving through a filthy pit on his surfboard, or now SUPing it up with the rest of us one thing is certain – Thorpy finally has all toys to cover every eventuality.
Freelance journalist, Tez Plavenieks, caught up with Mr Thorp to get the journeyman charger’s thoughts on all things stand up.
It’s taken a while to get you on a stand up paddle board, what made you eventually take the plunge?
I’ve wanted one for quite a while, since I first had a go in Maui a couple of years back. I’d say having the opportunity to work with Joe (Loco head) and having a fairly slow summer has been the catalyst.
You’re recognised as a bit of a wave warrior in windsurfing, are you going to adopt the same attitude with SUP?
I’m not sure to be honest. I know I’d much rather be tackling big conditions on gear I’m familiar/confident with and a surfboard is much easier at this stage. I’ve seen guys like Nick Healy ride the Cribbar on a SUP though so I might be tempted once I’m more dialled in. I’m going to be chasing good conditions around the UK, as usual, and the SUP will always be there at my disposal.
What are the plus points of SUP and how do you think the sport will compliment your surfing and windsurfing?
I think at the minute I see stand up filling the gap that surfing and windsurfing can’t. Sometimes that rift is pretty big and I’d rather be on the water than in the gym when the wind and waves desert us. It’s also a good way of getting friends and family onto the water which is pretty difficult with the other gear I own. So the main pluses are fitness without gym and that it’s accessible for everyone.
‘Spooning’ out to the peak – pic Richard White
Do you have any big plans for your paddling? Any waves you want to try or epic routes?
I ticked the first box already, which was paddling up the river by Dolgellau from the George III Inn, a beautiful spot – needed to be paddled! We had the added bonus of the tidal surge pushing us along, which I never expected. Wave wise; a few outer reefs and inaccessible bits of coast in Yorkshire that will now be easier to get to. I guess exploring is one of my main aims – I do a lot of that already. It’s a big old coast.
You’re known in windsurfing circles for travelling mammoth distances in a day, all to score a single session. Would you do the same if it were just stand up on the cards?
Hopefully not! I’m trying to do less miles. I’m hoping the SUP means I can get on the water without driving so far. On the flip side, having something fun to do when you’re skunked can make those ‘hit and miss’ sketchy forecasts a little more tempting.
Any plans to compete in SUP?
Hmm, maybe, I wouldn’t tell anyone before though.
What’s the best thing about SUP?
I think just being able to get out on the water regardless of conditions, and being able to get my wife Trudie involved. Surfing hasn’t really been a hit with her. I don’t think propelling yourself head first into walls of cold water and dodging lots of out of control boards is appealing.
Which Loco SUP is your ride of choice?
The Loco 8.11ft surf SUP.
Why did you decide on this particular Loco stick?
I initially had a bash on the Loco 9.5ft and was surprised how well I got on with it. Joe convinced me to take the 8.11ft which turned out to be perfect. I’m 78kg and expected to need something a little longer to get me going, but with the 8.11ft I can paddle a good distance and catch any size wave.
Mr Thorp dropping in – pic Richard White
How often are you paddling at the moment?
So far it’s been once a week. If I could find somewhere pretty to paddle around Leicester that would go up, and running would go down.
Your fin company, K4 Fins, is now supplied as standard on all Loco surf SUPs, how did this partnership come about?
I guess just through knowing Joe, and him hearing how good the fins are for windsurfing.
Do K4 have any new SUP fin shapes in the pipeline we should know about?
Nothing as yet! We have a huge range of wave fins already, fronts from 8 –14cm and rears from 12 –18cm. Heads are MT, slot, US, FCS and Futures. Several styles – almost too much choice already.
We hear stories of how SUP is going to be massive but where do you see stand up paddling going in the UK?
I think it’s going to grow into a very big sport, but I guess the UK is a tough customer. People don’t have much cash at the minute which must be slowing things down. Plus our weather isn’t always inviting, but I’m sure things will snowball – eventually.
Windsurfing, surfing or SUP?
Pretty much that order to be honest, although I really don’t see them as competing with each other. I’ve been crazy keen on the first two for nearly 30 years and I don’t see that changing. When it’s windy I windsurf, when there’s just swell I surf and for the other 10-20 weekends of the year I’ll now be SUPing.
Flat water SUP or SUP surfing?
I’d always prefer there to be a little wave, but I’m all up for some coastal exploring and flat water sunset/scenic paddles when the waves aren’t playing ball.
You can check out the entire range of K4 fins over at www.k4fins.com/shop/
The full Loco product list is here www.loco-sup.com/products/
If you have any question about K4 Fins or Loco stand up paddle boards then give either Joe or Steve a call.
Tez Plavenieks is a freelance writer who loves windsurfing, SUP, surfing, snowboarding, drums, art and beer. If he’s not out sliding sideways then you’ll find him producing articles, stories and content revolving around his passions. Check out more at tezplavenieks.com/