I’ve been surfing in and around Cape Town for about 20yrs now and when the 1st SUPs appeared in the backline about 5- 6 years ago I wasn’t too impressed. I mean, you stand on a board with a paddle and it looked so clumsy. It also looked way too easy, all you have to do is paddle and there you go. Nah, I wasn’t interested.
As time went by the number of SUPs in the water increased and you could hear talk in the surfing community about how awesome this new sport is. Then people who had nothing to do with surfing started talking about it, people who lived far from the ocean. They were talking about health and fitness, the stress release, yoga and paddling on rivers and lakes. It made me wonder.
Then in February this year I heard about a RED PADDLE promotion day at Hout bay beach. So I went down to the beach and was issued with a 10’6 inflatable SUP and paddle. A few quick tips from red paddle guy on where to stand, how to hold the paddle, how to paddle and steer and off I went.
At first I was on my knees paddling out past the small breakers and then got to my feet. Ok, wake up call – It’s not THAT easy – I slowly (and awkwardly) paddled around for a while in flat water. After a couple of tumbles I was laughing at myself, why haven’t I tried this years ago, this is fun. It seems easy enough but there is certainly an element of challenge. Facing the (tiny) swell directly and paddling over it was a lot easier than going sideways or facing the beach. Once I got relatively used to standing and paddling around I looked at the rest of the people around me, it hit me like a bomb. This was really something anyone could do, there were kids, moms and dads, old and young. Everybody was having a blast. Amazing.
Ok, so then I decided to try and catch a wave, jeez I was laughing so much. After surfing for so long i.e lying prone (on your stomach) on the board, paddling with your arms and then getting to your feet is so ingrained that trying to catch a wave standing up was so foreign to me. Your whole view is different.
Anyway, as mentioned the waves were really tiny and not really meant to be ridden but I persevered and managed to catch a wave in. That was enough – I was hooked, there is so much satisfaction associated with stand up paddle boarding.
Thus I have to sheepishly admit that the old saying of never judging a book by its cover applies to me here, SUP is anything but boring or clumsy. In fact a whole new world awaits……