Senior and The Girl joined me for our early morning lesson. The air was cool; the lake was calm and quiet. Chani showed up right on time and unloaded a variety of boards. She has a fun surfer vibe and set us right at ease. The 90-minute lesson starts on land, where you learn some basic rules and practice holding the paddle correctly. Before long we were in the water and ready to practice what we'd learned.
We attached leashes to our ankles and The Girl bungeed a lobster to the front of her board for luck. You start out on your knees, and then push yourself up to a standing position. I thought this would be the hardest part, but it was actually pretty easy and we all popped right up. Chani continued to give us tips as she led us out into the lake, like how to brace yourself to shift your weight so your toes don't fall asleep from the death grip they have on the board. The stroke you use while paddling is different than propelling a kayak or a canoe. You keep your arms straighter and use your core to gain momentum. If you do it right it's a great workout.
After a few minutes, both Senior and The Girl really got the hang of it. I, on the other hand, couldn't get rid of my jelly legs. They both skimmed around the lake, executing turns and slicing through the shallows, while I continued to wobble and paddle around in circles, cursing all those old men and pregnant women and their dogs. I only fell once, somehow managing to end up sitting on the board instead of touching the icky lake bottom, but I never felt relaxed and was getting pretty frustrated. Then Chani suggested I trade boards with Senior, who had been paddling a longer, heavier board. Eureka! It made a world of difference and I immediately began to enjoy myself. SUP frees you from the confines of the canoe or kayak. You can turn on a dime or in a lazy circles, skip over the wake of a passing boat, streak across the bay or pause to watch the Bluegills swimming beneath you. You can stand, sit, kneel or just lie down and float. It's about the most versatile water toy I've ever tried.
By the end of the lesson we were considering buying boards and starting our own SUP community. But a good board isn't cheap, and you have to have a place to store it. Renting will work better for us for now, especially since the girls at Urban Wave will deliver the rental boards to our door. So keep your eyes open, we might be cruising by your dock one of these days.