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Are You Down with SUP?

I recently had a long weekend trip to Southern California. My first leg of the trip was in Huntington Beach – Surf City USA. The first morning started off with an overcast sky also dubbed as the “marine layer” that burns off by the afternoon. Once the layer dissipates you’re left with bright blue sunny skies and warmer temps. This consequently happened every morning of my vacation. On this particular morning in Surf City I walked down the beach at 6 am (9 am east coast time) and found numerous surfers preparing to take the plunge in the frigid water to catch “THE” wave. Surfers from every age group could be found, even the little ones were there receiving lessons before heading off to school for the day. I also came across one lone SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard(er)) making his way silently through the water out beyond the breaking waves. I made a mental note that I would soon be encountering that same peaceful paddle in a few short days.

Traveling my way up the coast, I eventually made it to the destination where my very first SUP lesson would happen. Mind you I had been making mental notes of the area where this lesson would be and I was a bit nervous. Envision rocky shorelines, rough waves crashing onto the beach, and cliffside rocks falling in the distance. Of course, the majestic ocean view was breathtaking and the encounter of gray migrating whales along the coast line made one feel quite small as it relates to our existence here on Earth.

The 9 am lesson started with calm waters and a group of five heading off into Terranea Cove. Although timid at first, I stood up and eventually found my paddling groove. We paddled our way over to the kelp forest for a brief lesson by our instructor regarding this fast growing algae. Paddling through the kelp probably wasn’t the best of ideas, I soon became tired and fell right into it. Needless to say, I was wrapped in kelp and made the comment to the instructor that I felt like a seaweed-wrapped sushi roll. Laughing and calm nerves got me out safely in that otherwise scary ordeal. But when you think you’ve seen the worst, getting back into shore is an undertaking all on its own. Timing is everything when you have waves rolling you in on the rocky shores. We all made it just fine with the assistance of our well-trained instructor. With jelly legs, we all left the shore with huge smiles on our faces knowing that we had accomplished for some of us, our very first advanced SUP lesson.

Now that I’m back in RVA, I can’t wait for the paddle boarding event that I’m going to in June on the James River. If you haven’t tried SUP and would like to, I suggest you look into it and find out more. There are several companies in Richmond that offer lessons as well as other packages to include Eco Tours and SUP Yoga, to name a few.

Black Dog Paddle
Riverside Outfitters


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