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From Wannabe Surfer to Stand Up Paddle Boarder!

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Full disclosure…I really never thought about stand up paddle boarding in the past. I always wanted to surf and what is Hawaii famous for…surfing! I dreamed of hanging ten on my long board. I looked at hundreds of surfboards and told my wife, hey surfing is cheap…I can find a decent, used, watertight board for $100.

Before buying a board, my wife insisted that I take a surfing lesson to see if I could even surf. Well, the lesson didn’t go well at all. My surfing instructor was very patient and helpful but I sucked, really sucked! The lesson was at Ala Moana Beach Park which has the easiest waves you could ever ride (not Bowls but the gentle surf on the west side of the beach park).

Yes, I failed! Paddling out was fine. Catching a wave was fine. Ten times I popped up, ten times I fell into the ocean (thank goodness for the leash!). I gave up. I was exhausted and depressed…and I had to hear the wife’s, “I told you so.” I though about other water sports I could engage in. One BIG problem I have is space. I live in a studio with my wife, son & mother-in-law.

So, even if I was successful with the surf lesson, the longest board that could fit in my closet was 8ft, 6in…not a very long longboard :/ Kayaking was out since they are too long and heavy (I live on the 3rd floor of a walk up). Stand up paddle boards too long also (10-12 feet). Then I discovered the world of iSUP or inflatable stand up paddle boards. I can definetly fit a deflated SUP board in my closet!

Okay, now I was ready for a stand up paddle lesson. My wife thought I would fall in the water again 🙁 My thinking was, “Well, I’m 53 years old so maybe my balance has eroded.” So, I purchased a cheap balance board, from Amazon, and started to hopefully strengthen my stabilizing muscles. A couple of weeks later, I was ready from my SUP lesson.

I signed up for a lesson with Wet Feet Hawaii. It was only $99 for an hour lesson. There is no tax because the proceeds, from the lesson, are donated to the Stand Up Paddle Association of Hawaii (super cool!). I drove to Hawaii Kai and parked by Maunalua Bay Beach Park (near the canoe house). I met Jeff who is an experienced coach who works with beginners and pro paddle boarders.

I was nervous about standing up (I was shaky paddling on my knees). When Jeff told me to stand up, I stood up. I had no time for negative thoughts because Jeff was instructing me on the correct and most efficient way to paddle. The stablizing muscles, in my legs, were a little shaky but I didn’t care…I was paddling!

Thanks my fantastic instructor, I have a new hobby! Jeff said if I paddle board 3 times a week, I can have a six-pack (yea, I need to get rid of my spare tire!). I didn’t even notice that Jeff was taking photos and videos of my lesson…very cool! So if you want a great lesson (any skill level) or a tour, sign up with Jeff and Wet Feet Hawaii! You won’t be sorry.

Oh, I almost forgot. Jeff gave me some tips which might help newbie paddle boarders:

Paddle stroke
Torque your core when you paddle. Don’t use your arms only.
Paddle close to the edge of the board.
Paddle short strokes when it’s windy.
Don’t let the paddle drag behind you on your stroke.

Stroke paddle further out to turn in opposite direction.
Short backward stroke will help turn in the same direction.

Stand in the middle of the board, by the carrying handle.
Feet apart, shoulder width.
Slightly bend your knees, relax.

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