In 2012 I went through a (early) midlife crisis. I started to question my purpose and decided the solution was to say “yes” to everything (the Danny Wallace book ‘Yes Man’ may have been a slight influence – read it). By trying more things, I hoped to discover a new me (the real me?) and develop a host of new talents and hobbies to find meaning in this absurd world. It was quite an adventure I tell you.
•Rock Climbing – I had no discernible aptitude for this, it seems if you over think your nerve goes. I chucked the towel in, well more accurately got the towel out and laid on the beach with a book.
•Hiking and Wining – a resounding success, seems I’m cut out for walking, talking and swigging.
•Kayaking – I don’t recommend doing this in a storm, seems it’s quite tricky to right a capsized kayak that’s hurtling towards the rocks at high speed, and lifejackets are awfully difficult to swim in when wedged around your ears.
•Sailing – for this, I don’t advocate having your first sail with an unqualified instructor – again it’s quite tricky to right a capsized boat, particularly when you’re underneath it hyperventilating in pitch darkness.
•Coasteering – this is awesome as you get to wear an enormous variety of gear from climbing harnesses to snorkels and helmets to wetsuits.
•Caving – turns out the novelty of ‘writing’ your name on the wall with a headlamp is outweighed by the fear of being trapped 30ft underground.
•Bodyboarding – sadly not my cup of tea due to the inordinate amount of water that makes its way up your nostrils.
•Yoga – I liked it, a lot, there’s something virtuous about downward dogging on the beach at 8am, however I did rather take offence when I was told I had “weak hips”.
•Padel Tennis – an incredible invention, a squash-tennis hybrid which requires less running and general exertion than its forebearers, suits me, I play a lot.
•Stand up Paddle or SUP – bingo, I found it, the holy grail of simple-yet-fulfilling activities.
Now, when I first took to a SUP in May 2012, it was rather uncommon and therefore exceptionally ‘cool’. We were SUP pioneers. People exclaimed “gosh it looks so difficult, I couldn’t possibly try that, you must be very talented – and brave”. I did nothing to dispel these myths. I let them think I was talented, brave and cool. When actually I probably wasn’t.
The truth is SUP is delightfully easy to master. Once you’ve worked out how to position yourself (sort of in the middle, nose shouldn’t be out, tail shouldn’t be submerged), make the transition from kneeling to standing (whilst the SUP has forward momentum), paddle (blade all the way under the surface, keeping close alongside the board) and got over beginners ‘Elvis legs’ (for some reason your legs shake uncontrollably at first, which is odd given we spend half our adult lives standing up without too much of an issue) SUP is uncomplicated and relatively effortless. It’s also incredibly relaxing and peaceful – a real antidote to life’s stresses.
For these reasons, SUP is now (allegedly) the world’s fastest growing sport. Young old, male female, fit or less so, it’s all inclusive and has been elevated to seriously fashionable status with the likes of Sting, Pink, Nicole Sherzinger and Jennifers Aniston Lopez and Garner all hooked on SUP. It’s also known to be a complete core and cardiovascular workout.
Consciously your arms and shoulders are being exercised through the paddle action, whilst subconsciously every muscle from the soles of your feet up through your legs and to your midsection is being constantly worked to maintain balance and stability.
SUP’s also superior (in my opinion) to kayaking as the board is easier to manoeuvre around rocks and coves meanwhile the elevated position minimises refraction on the water’s surface (or something similar, science isn’t my forte) so you can have a good old peek at what lies beneath from fish to lost sunglasses. In fact a Facebook friend of mine has defined SUP as a “blend of kayaking and punting” (I’ll leave it to your imagination which portmanteau word that creates).
So I now spend flat sea days ‘walking’ on water, getting some headspace, enhancing the tan and pushing my midlife crisis to the back of my mind. Viva la SUP.
Photo of Sarah Credit to Samantha Hemsley.
Sarah Drane (email@example.com)