The Coast News Group
Sea Notes

Last man, woman or child standing

I’ve already made my stand on stand up paddle boards, or SUPs, in the lineup. Simply stated it’s this: Someone with the advantage of a paddle on a surfboard should give way on a wave to someone without one. I feel the same way about longboards sharing the lineup with shortboards. The one with the paddle advantage should give way.
While to me the aforementioned statement makes perfect sense, I often hear this rebuttal: “It’s not the vehicle but the rider who’s the problem.” While that’s true, it reminds me of the bumper sticker logic that: “It’s not guns that kill people, people kill people.” Guns, surfboards or atom bombs, it only takes one person not obeying the rules to ruin your entire day.
Last week I attended the Turkey Paddle, an event on Mission Bay that got me pretty stoked on SUPs. It was a family affair complete with races for all ages and food for anyone that cared to indulge. There were boards on hand for those that wanted to try them, and I stood out as the only one there in a wetsuit, an indication of my lack of confidence and the fact that I could easily fall. But I borrowed a board and paddled, first on my knees then on my feet, across the bay and back in my kooky stance.
Since the board I rode was not built for racing, I can’t claim any great rush from my time paddling, but I was left with a short endorphin blast and the feeling that things in the lineup might soon become a little more equal. Returning the board to the sand, I was greeted by friendly paddlers of all ages, some I knew; most I didn’t.
Now, I must admit that since I knew only one of the competitors and he had already raced, I paid no attention to the races and therefore have none of the results.
I did, however, run into an old friend, Ronda Daum, wife of Dave Daum, the builder, designer and manufacturer of King’s Stand Up Paddle Boards. I’ve known both Dave and Ronda for years. They are fine people; a compliment to the surf community and it’s always good to see them.
Ronda informed me about the racing boards being built and I could see that the King’s designs were fast and efficient, winning many of the races that day.
Of course I had no intention of racing myself, but she attracted my interest when she mentioned that race boards would help take SUPs further offshore and out of the lineup. I hope she’s right about that. If so, the lineups will become more manageable with some of the fastest paddlers no longer competing for a limited number of waves.
By now I’m convinced that SUPs are here to stay, unless they go the way of the sailboard, which also went boom to bust. But I have no problem with SUPs or those who ride them, unless they’re in front of me or someone else attempting to enjoy a few waves on a smaller surfboard.
I even would go so far as to suggest that everyone who regularly enjoys the water should try an SUP, and that no quiver would be complete without at least one. It must be rewarding to cruise a nonpolluting vehicle offshore, under your own power.
Those that do so tell me of seeing fish and other sea creatures that most others never know are there. Sounds like a peaceful way to spend an afternoon to me. Back in the lineup, however, things aren’t always so harmonious and the controversy continues.