Stand-up Paddleboard Take Two

Sunday morning I loaded up a loaner stand-up paddle board and headed to what was supposed to be ankle-high waves off of Passe-Grille beach in Pinellas County. Well, when I arrived at the beach and paid my parking fee, I was somewhat excited to see that the offshore (and moving onshore) rain storms were stirring things up just a bit more than expected.

I was “somewhat” excited because the board strapped to the roof of my Subaru Baja was a little different from the 12′ 1″ long and 31″ wide Laird from Surftech–it was a shorter (11′ 6″) board (the Ali’i I designed more for surfing by legendary shaper Donald Takayama) that was also less stable.

After a couple of attempts I finally stood up and stayed up. The board was more stable when moving and as long as I kept in a nice bent-knee “athletic stance”  and told myself to relax I was okay. I spent a good hour just tooling around and getting a feel for the board–falling off and remounting frequently. But, at least I was slowly getting more comfortable.

Or so I thought. Overconfidence overran my comfort and I had a string of swims. I’d remount the board, wobble and swim. Repeat. I was about to give up and decided to ride the board into the beach as best as I could–I didn’t think it would be pretty.

Then, IT happened. I caught a wave, shifted my right foot back into a surfing stance and using the paddle and my legs controlled the board–riding all the way into the shallows where I stepped off like a surfing god. A smile tore across my face and my first thought was “crack cocaine.” Probably not the best first thought for public consumption, but it was just the sudden realization of how incredibly addictive the feeling of catching and controllably riding a wave could be.

Over the course of the next hour, I managed to catch five or six similar rides–shifting my feet, controlling the board and getting to the shallows or almost to the beach. For at least two of those, I stepped off the board gracefully.

If I wasn’t hooked on my last experience with the Laird 12′ 1″ board, I’m definitely hooked now. Now, the decision will just be what board I want to buy for myself. The following morning I took the Ali’i for a flatwater paddle from my house and out on Riviera Bay. While I had no stability issues on flatwater, the board didn’t track as well as the longer Laird and was definitely a bit slower. So, I’ll likely borrow the 12′ 1″ board again this week and try it in both some waves (hope there are some) and flatwater.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’ll be strapping a SUP to the roof of my Subaru a little more often! If you haven’t tried one yet, find a place to get on the water and give it a go. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, head to Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park–they have the Surftech boards and a lake behind the shop where you can try them in a fairly controlled environment.

~ by kipwkoelsch on August 24, 2009.

One Response to “Stand-up Paddleboard Take Two”

  1. Great story! I also have a Takayama 11’6″ and love my board. It’s great in surf and fun on flatwater rivers and lakes. Check out my family biz http://www.StandUpPaddleFlatwater.com for more boards that are both good in the surf and flatwater. We ship anywhere in the U.S.

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