Outside interest: surfing and stand-up paddling

Written by: Susie Sell
Published on: 20 Jun 2014

IBK surfing

Isobel Bruun-Kiaer, European and projects officer at the TCPA, talks about her passion for surfing and stand-up paddling, and how the activities are similar to her day job.

Q: How did you get into surfing and stand-up paddling?

A: I’ve always loved the water, but only began surfing regularly after spending time in Australia being surrounded by warm water, perfect waves and every opportunity to jump in and get my hair wet. More recently I’ve discovered stand up paddling (SUP) for the days when the sea is flat and I fancy exploring around the coast.

Q: What does it involve?

A: Seizing the opportunity for a trip to the coast whenever possible – even in winter when it’s cold. I love surfing and SUP in Devon and Cornwall where you can chose from loads of amazing beaches. There’s a lot of paddling involved, so making sure that I keep surf-fit when staying in London is essential so that when I get back into the sea I can still paddle as quickly as the wave and avoid a wipe-out.

Q: Why do you do it?

A: The thrill. Catching a wave feels like you’re flying on water, anticipating a wave gives you a boost of adrenaline, but, when you’re out behind the waves waiting for the next set to come in, lying on your back and looking up at the sky is the ultimate relaxation.

The thrill with SUP is feeling the sea breeze on your face while exploring and discovering new headlands and coves while dipping into the clear sea with your paddle.

Q: What’s the toughest thing about it?

A: Unpredictability – you’re at the mercy of the wind and the weather.

Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

A: Catching a wave and working with the immense power of the sea. It can be quite humbling realising that you’re just a tiny part of a huge ocean and knowing that the wave you’re riding has travelled across the world to break exactly where you are. It certainly puts things into perspective.

Q: Are there any similarities between your day job as a planner and surfing or SUP?

A: You could say that looking back to the shore on your board is like taking a step back and remembering the importance of looking at a place in relation to its strategic context. But really, the biggest similarity is just trying to keep my head above the water - whether you’re talking about wiping out or about keeping up with planning reform!