By J.L.Ruston

When it’s you out there in the thick of nature, there are no compromises. 

Not on safety. Not on durability. Not on sustainability, comfort, accessibility, or style. 

Here for a good time AND a long time is the UK turned worldwide leading sports and SUP brand, Red Paddle Co. In May this year (2023), they earned the reward of B- Corp status with respect to the ingenuity of each brain behind the brand. Each brain understands how vital it is never to allow compromise to creep into their morals, thoughts, or design.

Donned by world athletes, adventurers, and lifesavers alike who have put their trust in the internationally conscious brand, REDs’ ethics have placed them in the world’s top 3 best stand-up paddle boards (SUP) in the world—a cosy spot to sit in an industry set to surpass USD 2.9 Billion before 2025. 

Noticeably enjoyed by Tyson Mayer from National Geographic, who’s taken Red paddle boards to the Antarctic glaciers.

Source - Red website

Managing Director of Red Paddle Co Australia, James Bradshaw, lives for the thrill of the elements, both harsh and heavenly. He educated The Jolly Times over a cup of tea about how their SUP boards are maturing into the world’s most efficient life-saving vessels, boosting endorphin levels by deeply connecting families and friends over healthy, technology-free, accessible activity, all whilst taking care of the planet’s resources and like-minded businesses every step of the way.

How on earth are Red Paddle Co’s inflatable boards saving lives, you ask? 

Mother Nature has a global audience witnessing her challenge the pace of our natural knack for adaptability. Rapid floods are becoming increasingly common worldwide, an adrenaline-fuelled situation where efficiency in rescue is absolutely everything. 

Red partnered up with The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) International team, who gazed in awe at their paddle board technology. Together, they developed a paradigm-shifting board that is lighter, more compact and inflates quicker than any other life-saving equipment available on the planet. Find out about the technology that sets them apart on their website here. 

In the last year, they have seen tremendous success across flooded areas of Zanzibar, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Since being partnered with the Australian Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS)  and Bondi Rescue, Red has gained the attention of life-saving programmes across China

“We can pump them up to 22 psi! But most of these on the market are between 10 to 15 psi, so you can’t feel as balanced on them when you’re out there.”

Ocean rescue training in Zanzibar. Source - Red website
Ocean rescue training. Source - Cork Lifeguard Academy

He notes that with a rising population building around inland waterways, a rise in drowning fatalities often comes paired. Their rescue boards were the hot topic of discussion at the World Drowning conference in Adelaide last December and have since seen the company expand its wings further with the confidence of overseas success. They plan to communicate with councils to install  Red Rescue boards in as many publicly accessible sites as possible near waterways. This direction threw the team into constant waves of new infantry, adding a ‘honeymoon phase’ thrill to the process, which shines through their staple quality.

Mr Bradshaw smiles proudly, “The innovation. Sometimes, I think we can’t do any better. And then we get into a conversation, and we break down everything and ask, ‘How’s this, how’s that?’ We don’t stop thinking. It’s never, ‘we’ve done it now, that’s it.’ And the whole team is the same. There’s a great team of people that all just sound. They hugely lift each other, and that lifts the profile.”

Fun fact: In authentic Top Gear fashion, Red put their claims of having the toughest board on the market to the ultimate test: They ran over it with a 22-tonne digger and a tractor, they dropped it and had athletes smash their bodies into it. How much do you think it was able to withstand before bursting? Watch below.

It’s not only human lives they are concerned about saving. 

Red has a snazzy limited edition board that was designed by a member of the beloved public in an open design competition. The board supports Love the Oceans, which has been their lead charity partner since 2020. 

Robyn Dawson – PR & Communications Manager at Red Paddle Co, told us,

“They are a non-profit conservation organisation and have a bottom-up, community-led approach to marine conservation, which empowers residents in the Jangamo Bay region of Mozambique, East Africa, to understand and protect their ocean.  

Over the years, we have donated paddle boards, including our Limited-Edition Ride board – 10% of all proceeds go towards supporting their conservation efforts.  

They use the boards in several ways, including dropping hydrophones (an underwater microphone) to monitor whales in the region. As the paddleboards are self-propelled (no noisy engines) it allows them to get much, much closer to the whales and collect better acoustic data for their research. Preserving marine life is a big draw for the Eco-Tourism section of the charity – who wouldn’t love the chance to paddle with whales?!

Robyn continues;

“They also use the boards as diving platforms during their coral reef research and as part of their drowning prevention program, which started this year.”

The humbling process of being able to give back as you take is a respectful connection to the world, which many who endure the nature of it understand. As they grow, they help others grow, and through that, all partners can thrive.”

Read here to see why even A.I. ‘thinks’ Inflatable Rescue Boards are the future.

How does Red Paddle Co bring people together and boost your well-being? 

Life-saving organisations aren’t the only ones taking notice. Aquaplanet, a UK watersports brand, reported a 300% rise in SUP searches in 2022, and it’s not slowing down no matter where you look in the world. 

Through honest demonstrations of all the versatile situations, anybody with any lifestyle can use a paddle board, including you city office worker, skipping the heavy traffic to work by paddling beneath the traffic-blocked intersections on the calm, sweet-tasting river! The RED team played a crucial role in creating this global culture thoroughly enjoyed by children, teenagers (yes, teenagers), and adults in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s plus. Sports lovers and non-lovers. Icelandic adventurers and river relaxers. Pet dogs, rabbits, turtles and ducks. By popular demand, there was no narrow niche for their target audience. Therefore, nobody feels excluded to join in creating lasting, bonding memories.

James explains, 

 “You can go for a paddle with all of your friends for an hour or so, and you do some serious physical exercise and you’re talking to them constantly. Why? You don’t realise as you’re doing it, you’re feeling a bit tired, but you’re connecting without technology and having fun.

And that’s why we see little pods of people paddling. It’s more of a lifestyle than a sport. It can deliver anything you want, from a casual and relaxing experience to a full cardio workout and anything in between,”

Before the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes devastated the area and made the waters unswimmable, the Bradshaw family owned the first, largest and most popular snowboard/ paddle board shop and school in New Zealand’s south island. They were the only ones to pick up Red paddle boards, immediately stocking up to use little else. James loved the company so much that he took on a leading role with the now-proven belief that these boards would make more than ripples in the market. Now, living with his family in picturesque Perth, they can share this lifestyle on some of the most incredible waters on planet Earth. 

A father, leader, sportsman and ex-chef has a mind capable of the most diverse and adaptable means of guiding the best qualities out of individuals in a harnessed fashion that leads to self-empowerment, independence and raised ambition.

New brave adventurers learning on Red paddle boards at Wellbeing SUP Yoga

His multiple positions in life leave him honoured to witness countless transformations. He reminisces about the successful feeling that he sees people leave his classes with, shoulders high and ready for more water. He continues, 

“For some people, taking them 10 metres out on the water is the scariest thing they’ve ever done. This is their climbing Everest, and they grow in love with it. They’re laughing, they see wildlife, and dolphins love paddleboards. It’s really fulfilling to see some of these people who were terrified, three years later, riding small waves in Fiji. It’s a great sport. Anybody can do it. If you’ve struggled before, it’s probably just because you’re either on the wrong board or you weren’t shown properly. That’s it.” 

Though meditation is a growing transformation worldwide, it’s not a practice for everyone. Yet giving yourself the time to gain clarity by disconnecting from the rush feeling is vital for health and progress.

Thousands have found that through paddle boarding, even combining the two, sometimes with yoga.

“The world at the moment is so rush rush rush.” James shakes his head. “I had a friend come out for a paddle with me, and he was a bit frazzled from all the work he had on. While we were out there, he made a really good point; he said, 

-This is your mindfulness. Because when you’re paddling, you don’t think about all the things like work or world issues or the economy. You just think about the next stroke, or look at that dolphin, or look at that beautiful thing over there.-

I really love it. You come back refreshed, you can deal with work, your mind is all refreshed, and everything is cool. SUP is a great way to keep your body moving. I had a new knee from breaking my leg twice from rugby and this and that. If I stop, it really hurts, so just like Clint Eastwood said, don’t let the old man in. Just keep going, keep going. Keep moving.”

GOOD NEWS: If you’re at home feeling seized up or achy from a past injury or inactivity, here is a safe, lightweight, steady way to begin easing those effects. Have a look at their beginner boards to ease into it.

Thriving in the benefits of the water is the growing franchise Sea Gals, which Red has sponsored with their environmentally friendly Pro Change EVO Robes that keep the ladies covered and snuggled in the brisk beach winds and don’t leak any harmful chemicals into the environment. Robyn continued to tell us excitedly, 

“During my six years working at Red, I’ve always been passionate about celebrating the amazing women I connect with; many are carving their course in the outdoor space, both on and off the water. I regularly have conversations with women who are championing each other to get out there and overcome various barriers to entry. It is people like Tara and The Sea Gals who have taken that first leap out of their comfort zones to build communities and create inclusive and safe spaces so others can join with confidence and without judgement. If we can support these individuals and groups in some way, then we are doing what we set out to do as a brand, and that’s to make the water more accessible to as many people as possible and make it the best experience.

Source - Sea Gals

It is brilliant when we can provide them with technical products, but for me, the real joy comes from championing their messages through our global community so even more people can enjoy the incredible benefits of the water and feel welcome in the outdoors. That’s what really counts.”

Read our interview with The Sea Gals here.

The science and sustainability behind Red Paddle Co that earned them B corp status and how you could get it too.  

Managing Director, James Bradshaw, explains, 

“We don’t use glue except for our deck grips. What’s different is that everything’s heat welded at the same time that the board’s compressed, which makes a super-strong bond.

Glued boards get layers of plastic and glue, or laminate, and that deteriorates after generally six months to a year, maybe two years if you’re lucky, because it just bubbles or separates, and you’ve lost your product.

Our boards have a 5-year warranty. We talked about Sustainability and the Environment. The best part of sustainability is longevity. Something lasts longer. Red boards are not just a throwaway product, and we have a 0.06% return rate. Even our pumps are designed for disassembly as our factories are zero waste, and all our employees in the factory are paid an above-average weekly wage, not per piece.”

James continues on a fire roll of enthusiasm.

“The wave index has a high tensile topstitch, which creates this absolutely super strong, but also super light, really great product that’s easier to roll up.

Phil Hawthorn, Head of Design, has a Master’s and a PhD in sustainability. He talks about the circular design, which is the biosphere and the technosphere. 

The biosphere product can be reduced and recycled. 

The technosphere can be broken down and recycled. 

If you marry the two, like most companies, you can’t actually break these materials down. As part of our boards, they can separate.” See the video for a full explanation. 

It’s not just their paddleboards that are in a conscious loop. Their waterproofing technology in clothing apparel is something we didn’t even know that we needed until now. 

Red’s  Pro Change EVO Robes that they gifted to the Sea Gals who are constantly in and out of the ocean are: 

Made from 100% recycled materials. 

PFC free. (PFC is a manmade waterproofing product most commonly used in waterproof clothing.) 

Every time you wash an outdoor product, or it rains, it generally leaks those chemicals into the water and environment; some of them don’t degrade for up to 1,000 years. Also, waterproofing in the clothes disappears if people wash it whereas ours don’t use any of those chemicals and are built to last.” James nods his head with confidence. 

They’re great for the cold weather. 

“When you’re wet and the wind dries your skin, it can get pretty chilly very fast. They’ve been a revelation. It’s not just swimming; it’s everything from all water sports to camping to just wearing around the house. It’s great if you’re sitting on the boat in the evening or we know if it’s generally just a bit chilly.

It’s not just about sustainability or the environment; it’s all it’s about an all-round good company. It’s your employees, your social aspects, where your financials go; everything is taken into account. There are only two or three watersports companies that are B corp around the world. So for us, a relatively small company (50 or so people) to be B corp status is a really big step and shows that it’s not just about making a board and throwing it out there or making a normal jacket like all the others.  

All of us within the company are huge water sports people. We all care about plastics in the water. When you’re paddling, and you see things like a petrol diesel slip from a boat or a bottle, it makes you sad. From that whole point of view, holistically, our company’s pretty cool. I feel lucky to work for them to be honest. It’s one big family, and everybody’s on the same page and looking forward.

The consumer confidence wave is tall and strong. This isn’t just another brand to flash on a catwalk; it’s a lifestyle, safety and comfort guaranteed in unforgiving elements. It’s every penny of your spending supporting a web of creative genius that’s protecting the pockets of beauty that we admire so much. It’s knowing that your money is going to authentic people, who have zero flicker of an intention to compromise your experience or the planet that gives it to us. 

For full details on how their products are involved in the circle of life, not the harm of it, visit their website here.


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