This Girl Can… ‘If in doubt, paddle out.’
I wake up unusually early on a Saturday morning but the fact that the sun is shining and I’m going to be Stand-Up-Paddle boarding over the glistening water offers a lot of reassurance. Although, considering my poor balance and co-ordination skills, I prepare to giggle at myself for when I fall spectacularly off the board.
Perhaps the most embarrassing moment was when I called John over to assist my search and he retrieved another lonely, slightly bigger wet shoe. I look up at him like a sad puppy as the naive words of “Oh…Do they not have to match?” escape my mouth. He laughed, and assured me the wet shoe fashion police weren’t expected today. Tail between my legs, I scurried off to get changed and meet the others.
John eagerly talks us through the structure of the board and the goals for the end of the two-hour session…To not only stand up (obviously) but to TURN; a collective response of under-confident ‘uh oh’s’ briefly breezed through the group. However, after helping each other push the boards into the water, we took turns discovering different ways to conquer the board.
- The classic “Beached Whale”
- “The Downward Dog” (resulting in slowly slipping downward off the board)
- And lastly: “The Lizard” (crawling perilously on your belly)
With each of us choosing our favourite, we hesitantly placed our knees either side of the central panel on the board and (like complete novices) head to the other side. After giving John an insight into our paddling skills he kindly corrected our technique-either a wider stance or keeping the paddle more vertical. With lots of patience and assistance, I felt quite proud of my ‘Kneel up Paddle boarding’ (KUP), probably because I had forgotten the whole ‘Standing-Up’ part of ‘SUP’.
Perched on the edge of the bank, John talked us through our ideal stance for when our feet replaced our knees. I decided it would probably be best to get my first fall out of the way and proceeded to place the paddle horizontally across my board and use my knuckles to help me get to my feet. I was most definitely sticking out my bottom and bending my knees too much, but I couldn’t help but cheer… I was up! Using my paddle, I was able to manoeuvre myself fairly easily around the lagoon and quickly got the hang of completing a large sweep to the side, in order to turn.
We couldn’t believe it. We had managed to Paddle Board for an hour and a half without losing our balance…that was until the introduction of three dreaded words:
Step. Back. Turn.
This turn is a vital part of SUP, as it allows you to pivot around obstacles in racing. This involves moving one foot to the back of the board and lifting up the front. Easy you may say, however, meanwhile you are sweeping the paddle from front-to-back. With all of us laughing at how easy John had made it look-one man bravely took the plunge. Let’s just say he showed it wasn’t so easy. He fell in once or twice. We praised him as he determinedly attempted the move and did manage to do a wobbly turn which is more than I can say for my feeble attempt. Anyway we all managed to turn, let’s just say it was far from graceful!
After a few minutes of calmly paddling across the water, we decided to play a classic game of follow the leader. This took concentration and the game was interrupted with a few ‘whoopsies’, ‘sorry!’s, and ‘eeep!’s as we jostled past each other. By the end, we were all giggling and all agreed on what fun it had been. I definitely want to book the SUP follow on course.
Just remember what the legendary Aussie surfer, Nat Young once said:
‘If in doubt, paddle out.’