Sport > SUP

SUP

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: August 2, 2011

SUP, as in Stand Up Paddle-board.

In general, it is not hard to unravel the chain of event that leads me to the hospital. In the case of the surfing skull fracture, it went like this. I was skydiving on a rental rig and hurt my back. Ok, back up, I could have taken my rig to Alabama, but no, I chose the rental because I didn't want to take my rig cross country. Then the rental rig caused the injury after a hard opening. I never have hard openings in my own rig.

So I'm dealing with a bad back and rather than skydive I take a nice relaxing swim off Coronado Island in August. August is when the hurricanes hit Mexico. Coronado is a south facing beach that only breaks in August. I re-injure my back.

Using what passes for logic, I figure that I need to learn how to transit the surf zone in a way that doesn't trash my back. I think surfing is the way to learn this. True to some degree, until I smash my skull surfing and prove that maybe in the end, me and surf zones are not that compatible.

This week teh surf is flat in San Diego. Yes, it is August, but Mexico is calm. Meaning all the breaks are flat. It would be a nice time for that relaxing swim that I tried a couple eyars ago. But instead, I rent a stand up paddle-board. Why? Because apparently I've just not done enough dumb things in life.

I think the indicator for that statistic is that I'm still alive. Once I do the last dumb thing, I'm outtie. I expect a strong correlation between those two events. Will see how this plays as far as SUP goes.

So SUP. Usually, I take lessons when I start something new. Or at least google a youtube video. Didn't get around to that. Just rented the board and hoped for the best. Hope is enough to get a brother elected president right? why not run with that, I think to my very tanned self.

I head over to the gear rental place near my work. By near I mean a few hundred yards. This I think my not be a bad way to pass the time when the seas are flat. I can get a good workout and not have to do the 15 minute drive to the beach. I see the lady behind the counter. She is not suffering from the same problem as the seas, that is for sure. Hrmm, nice breaks.

Where was I? Oh right, about to make a fool of myself in the general vicinity of hot chic. I'm not teaching this week, so why not?

I rent the board and the lady half my age directs me to the dock where a guy 1/3 my age shows me the board. Nice 14 footer. That I h ave no idea how to operate. He gets me on safely and I'm off paddling away on my knees. I paddle under the bridge and out of sight before even trying to stand up.

Eventually I fight through the wind and get under the bridge on Harbor Drive. I head close to the shore and try to stand up. Plop, plop. My next two attempts are no better. Then I do stand up and get about 10 strokes in before returning to knee paddling.

Initially I was trying to stand like on a surfboard. Wrong. I figure that doesn't work after 3 or 4 times of it not working. I'm quick like that. Its feet side by side that works.

I head back to the dock and decide to try again to stand right in front of the window to the rental area. No it was not showing off, it was the only place with shallow water that did not have boulders visible. It was also not showing off because I immediately plopped after trying to stand up the first time. BUt the second time I probably got 20 strokes in, setting a new record for me.

This was sort of calm water, but the wind was kicking rather hard, so at least I had that going against me. I brought the board in and headed back to settle up with the rental office. The rental lady was stiffling a grin at my, uh, soakedness. But she was also mildly miffed that I brought the lifejacket in and plopped it on the counter. That soggy thing was supposed to go outside. I have this gift.

I'm sure I was the highlight of an otherwise slow day for the rental staff. For my part, 45 minutes out there left me rubber legged and rubber armed, in addition to wet and salty.

When I got back home I finally took the time to google a "how to paddle board" video. Turned out I'd made exactly every mistake an uncoached beginner could make. I was progressing beautifully.

I expect this too will end up with me in a hospital explaining some yet to be determined condition to a puzzled surgical team who silently vows never to do whatever it is I'm about to do next.

Actually, its not next.

I don't plan to try this again for another 48 hours.

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