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Spending a couple of hours learning to master the basics of Stand Up Paddle (SUP), the new board sport that has exploded on to the surf scene like a tsunami, taught me three things.
A – I don’t actually possess the balance of Lionel Messi.
B – Neither do I have the physique of a sun-kissed surf dude.
C – My swimming shorts could be making an appearance in Antiques Road Show any day.
With Andy capturing evidence on film from the sidelines, John and I tried to listen intently as Chris ran through the basics of getting to grips with Stand Up Paddle – where to put our feet, why the boards were different, what to do if we got into trouble, how to hold the paddle etc. But I’m sure Chris could see our eyes flicking impatiently behind him to the big blue (in reality the lagoon at Sands Beach Resort), eager to be skimming through the water with the easy grace of a Hawaiian islander.
Although chomping at the bit, I knew from previous experience diving in Lanzarote and skydiving in Costa Brava that absorbing what your instructor was saying can make life a hell of a lot easier when theory turns to practice.
Stand Up Paddle proved no different. The beauty of this new sport is that unlike other board sports such as windsurfing, kite-boarding and surfing itself, it doesn’t take long before you can become reasonably confident on the water. The learning curve isn’t as steep… or choppy.
The basics are you push off, get to your knees, then onto one leg, then two and hey presto, the sea is your oyster or something like that.
I’ve always considered myself a pretty well balanced person (in many ways) and feel totally at home in the water – so I was taken by surprise when one leg did a sort of drunken wobble thing and I nearly took a dunking before we’d started properly. Standing upright on a surf board wasn’t quite as easy as I’d expected. But with every stroke of the paddle confidence grew and leg muscles relaxed making balancing a lot easier.
Knowing exactly where to place your feet helps immensely, especially when boards stray too close and your fellow learner (no names mentioned) comes over all Dick Dastardly by pushing your board with his paddle (surely a yellow card offence) threatening to completely destabilise your floating kingdom.
Chris’ constant support and helpful tips helped me feel if not at one with my board at least on good terms with it pretty quickly. Although we were in the safe, calm waters of the Sands Beach Resort lagoon, there were a couple of obstacles to add a touch of spice including negotiating two bridges (bending down whilst balancing turned out to be surprisingly easy) and a narrow section that channelled the wind, which played havoc with steering.
With the sea breeze threatening to direct us into the lagoon’s wall we followed Chris’ advice to the letter until we cleared ‘stormy’ seas and entered mirror-calm waters again… where for no reason other than a loss of concentration, I promptly fell off the board.
By all accounts I fell perfectly (arms out and backwards) just as instructed. Every bit of tuition really does come in handy.
All in all we spent a couple of hours practising Stand Up Paddle Manoeuvres. As a surf board first timer, I found it an addictive sport and was sorry when it was time to paddle to shore. SUP’s mix of adventure and being at one with nature (Chris recommends occasionally stopping on your board to enjoy the scenery and the soporific lapping of the waves against the board) gives it a wide appeal and it’s far more accessible than other board sports.
I’ll definitely give it another go. Next time I’ll try the open seas and one of the SUP & Tapas packages. It sounds like the perfect surf ‘n’ turf combo. But before I do I’ll be investing in a less naff pair of swimming shorts.
Buzz Fact File: An intro course with SUP Lanzarote costs €35. There are open water and SUP Surfing options available depending on experience and individual levels.
Buzz Trips visited Costa Teguise as a guest of Turismo Teguise and Sands Beach Resort. However, as always, what we write is exactly what we experienced.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+