Posted by: smithdavid | March 24, 2013

Suspended

Phil & Loraine are just back from the beach when I come down from my room. It’s just before seven a.m. I look out the kitchen window even though I know I won’t be able to see if swell has traveled overnight and arrived at the beach

‘Morning!’ Phil says. His green eyes are alight and he’s smiling.

‘Sorry…morning…’ I say, once again looking out towards the sea.

‘No, no waves,’ says Phil, ‘you’ll have to dry your eyes and SUP today…’

I’ve been thinking about SUPs (stand up paddle boards) since December and perhaps before then. You’ve got to try it, Luke, a friend of a friend and an avid kite-surfer, told me. You’ll probably catch eight or nine waves in an hour, on a board you’re lucky to get one or two.

low tide at rhosneighr...

low tide at rhosneighr…

The idea of catching more waves is appealing. But using such a big, cumbersome board (10ft or longer and 30 inches wide) and a paddle to me seems like not earning the right to ride the wave. And almost every surfer I’ve talked to curses the way SUPs take the best of the waves from way out back and then have no control when they get to boarder’s territory.

But, as Phil has observed, there isn’t even a ripple out there today.

Now I’m lugging a hire SUP from Funsports to the water edge. The board is so wide that there is a slot that serves as a handgrip in the middle. It’s even heavier than the Big Blue Bus.

‘You stand square on to the nose and only get into surfer’s position if you get a wave,’ says Phil. ‘Get some momentum on your knees first, it’s easier to stand when you’re moving…’

committing high treason on a sup...

committing high treason on a sup…

I make a few strokes with the paddle and then I rise up. It is not an explosive, fluid movement like the pop-up. It’s slow and ponderous and wavering. I’m crouched and every time I straighten my back fully, I cannot reach the water with the paddle.

With a few efficient stokes, Phil pulls away. I paddle hard to catch him but each time I get close, he dips his paddle into the water again.

‘They reckon a J motion is the best,’ he says and then shows me. A sensation travels up my legs to my torso, I feel I am never fully set and that if I stop paddling, I’ll fall off.

We carry on towards three small islands which are five or six hundred yards out.

‘Watch the current here,’ Phil says as he paddles between islands. My board wobbles and there is a moment when I think I might fall off. But I keep paddling and soon I’m through the current.

While there is no rush like when I ride waves, I feel a quiet satisfaction when I look up from time to time and see the distance that we have covered. And there is a rhythm and focus about paddling, my attention is only on the smooth handle in my hand the way my weight is suspended, on the ever moving water, by a board and faith.

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Responses

  1. Dave,

    Keep me posted on the SUP experience. We often have small wave days here and I’ve thought it would be fun to go out on an SUP. Great core workout too, I hear.

    Got a small ocean kayak and am having some fun with that these days.

    Tom

    • not convinced by sups tom. everyone says it’s a great core workout but it’s nothing like the workout you get from a surf. i’ve done ocean kayaking and think i prefer that.

      thanks as always for reading…dave


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