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Up-Winder SUP from the Swan Valley

Up-Winder SUP from the Swan Valley

What was meant to be a reasonably straight forward downstream paddle with my mate Marty turned out to be somewhat different. As I reflect on the experience I thought I’d share some of the, trials, tribulations and mistakes for anyone new to SUP.

Less than one week ago the Ascot Kayak Club invited stand up paddle boarders to join them on their practice run for the kids Guppy Avon Decent Squad. It was a 15km doddle for them and a little more challenging for recreational SUP Paddlers, never the less we all made it in better than our estimated times and conditions were mildly challenging.

Today my mate Marty and I decided to do the same run, stronger winds forecast which meant a speedier, easier run….tail wind of course.

When we dropped in at Middle Swan Reserve the wind was howling, we were excited, yahooing and carrying on then around the corner everything changed. Mother nature tricked us. Like a punch in the face it was straight into 40km winds all the way.  Converted, it was only 21 knots and I felt ripped off as this doesn’t sound much compared to how it actually felt. For 15kms straight it was brutal.

Things got really tough when I lost sight of Marty at about the 5km mark. He must have been a like a devil possessed, no way was I gonna catch him. We had a safety plan…we had phones.

I was determined to keep my poker face on refusing to show any sign of pain. I imagined paddling the Avon Decent Challenge so I would remain composed but there were some serious out breaks of cursing.

“f..k off wind, shit I got the wind direction wrong, oh no I’ve got the key to the car, I can’t stop paddling the wind’s gonna turn me around, am I heavy enough to keep the board down,  WTF I don’t have my leash, what’s the time, is Marty  finished already – he’s not human, I can do this, I’m not cut out for this,  just keep going, DO NOT get rescued how embarrassing, dig in, auto pilot, how come I’m not puffing, my body’s destroyed, is my paddle too short, no power, don’t show pain face…..

Lol…when Marty paddled out to meet me at the finish, the first thing I asked was “how long have you been sitting around for?” Marty said “11 minutes”……it was music to my ears. In total I was 20 minutes behind and I was stoked with that.

It was only mental tenacity that got me through it and I know this would be a walk in the park for athletes but we learnt a lot about ourselves today as we bantered about what was going on in our heads on the way home. About mindset, about working things out instinctively and getting back to basics. At every turn of the river there was a new challenge.

So….next time we’ll start from the other end, I’ll give Marty my car key and remember my leash. I’m proud of my effort today and I salute you Marty. You are a true gentleman for paddling back into hell to chaperone me for those last 200 meters. Thanks Mate and I’m looking forward to the next one as nuts as that sounds.

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