James Lush, an avid paddleboarder, has worked as an outdoor instructor for the past eight years, spending his time at different centres within the UK and abroad. He now resides back on the Isle of Wight, where he was first trained, using it as an outdoor playground for coastal exploration with the Needles and the Solent Forts on his doorstep—no matter what, he's only ever ten minutes away from a beach.
Having tried a couple of different educational routes post-age 16, James struggled with being in a classroom behind a computer screen rather than outside. Luckily, he got an opportunity to train to become a watersports instructor and gained his RYA Dinghy sailing instructor, Windsurf instructor, British Canoe Paddlesports and British Standup Paddle Association Instructor Levels 1 and 2 certificates. James used these qualifications to start a career path working at multiple UK watersports centres, travelled to the Middle East to work in outdoor education, led the International Duke of Edinburgh Awards, helped run a service project in Sri Lanka, and worked with Special Educational Needs children on and off the water. He also led outdoor education trips in the desert and did some bank safety at a whitewater centre one summer instead of having a break.
Away from work, James's obsession is paddleboarding. He's always got a Loco SUP and Mustang Highwater Drybag ready for adventure. Apart from geeking out over different paddling techniques or the newest craziest weird paddle blades, James loves the exploration side and going where fewer people are. He has paddled in a natural spring in the middle of a desert, SUP surfed next to a border control post and paddled around a temple in Bali. Most recently, he has ventured into the middle of the Solent to visit the forts and caves, getting different perspectives of the Isle of Wight. He also likes using his SUP as a base to snorkel from and access areas you otherwise can't walk to. James's partner, Taylor, is also a watersports instructor with a whitewater raft guide, sea kayak and canoe background. They are always on the water together, having fun, acting as safety for each other, and working frequently together at different centres. James admits that he's recently been sea kayaking more to keep up with Taylor and gain more qualifications for the future. In his own words, "The fact we can also sit in a canoe together without tearing each other's heads off repeatedly over nearly six years is a promising sign in our relationship."
James's favourite Mustang Survival Gear:
- Has four furry animals: two guinea pigs (Blur and Pickle) and two rabbits (Murphy and Bailey)
- Has bought extra luggage to take a SUP on holiday
- Has had a gun pointed at him by a border patrol boat while paddling in the Middle East (they let him continue two minutes later)
- Is a big-kid-who-occasionally-has-to-worry-about-safety type of instructor
- Is not a very good sup surfer; it humbles him
- Was a lifeguard involved with the testing of lifejacket suitability for disabled sailors