SUP for most paddlers is on the mellower end of the spectrum. Recreational stand up paddle boarding in the sun, on fairer weather days, is where it’s at. There are, however, a small number who take it up a notch and chase the performance and adrenaline side of the sport. Racing, SUP surfing and white water river running are all possible with stand up paddle boards. But these areas require dedication and chasing of conditions to truly get the most out of. If you want adrenaline from your paddling it’s a never ending quest of searching for the ultimate ride.
It’s hard not to sound cliche and ‘yo dude’ when talking about performance and adrenaline stand up paddle boarding. Quite often it can come off like badly quoted dialogue from Point Break (Kathryn Bigelow’s version – not the poor remake). Yet phrases like ‘searching’, ‘ultimate ride’ and ‘stoke’ do so describe what many adrenaline paddlers are after.
If you’re a SUP surfing nut in the UK then just as with prone surfing your time in between getting wet will revolve around scouring weather forecast data, surf prediction websites and wind/tide info. You’ll also be a ‘gear head’, slightly obsessed with boards and paddles and how they interact with waves to potentially improve your riding. When you do launch for a wave sesh it’s fingers and toes crossed that Mother Nature will deliver what she promised and Neptune will see fit to hand you some memorable slides.
Sticking with SUP surfing and any paddler who’s experienced a long walled up wave, that allows multiple turns, carves and redirects will know how euphoric, and possibly spiritual, the situation can be. It only takes one good wave – and it doesn’t need to be big – to ramp up the stoke factor. And having enjoyed tip top conditions thoughts invariably turn to wanting more. So quickly back to forecast data and eyeing up the next session. As we say, it’s a never ending quest for continual fulfillment.
Every so often a session will come along that’s head and shoulders above the rest. The surf’s clean; there’s not a breath of wind; waves peel either left or right (or perhaps form A-frame peaks) for front and backside riding. The waves are long and each time the rider snags a ride it’s uber long and dreamy. Often times the sun’s shining with bluebird skies, rays of light glinting reflecting off feathering lips and droplets of water. Time can slow and everything take on an ethereal vibe. Maybe mates are around to witness the occasion – which can better the situation. And most definitely you’re in the zone. Making the utmost of conditions by being bang on your wave riding game. In a nutshell, the stars have aligned and it’s all time!
In the moment you mightn’t realise it. But slowly a zen-like, almost spiritual feeling starts to set in. Particularly if the session lasts a while, delivering wave after wave after wave. Paddling back to shore you begin to process the experience. Maybe you round things out with a post-SUP surf beer with your mates. Or simply head home, bathed in the afterglow of what all surfers call stoke. In your mind’s eye, you replay those glides over and over. There’ll no doubt be a stand out moment that sticks more than the rest. And as you drift off to sleep it’s a movie reel of SUP surf awesomeness that replays in your head.
Post-session SUP comedowns.
The described situation above doesn’t occur every week. That’s what makes the art of wave riding (as with other adrenaline SUP areas) addictive. It may be weeks, months or even years between sessions such as the aforementioned. This isn’t to say you don’t enjoy further fun aboard your stand up paddle board. But those special, truly euphoric moments are rare.
Any rider that experiences this will talk about the comedown. Addiction is such that the super highs are right up there. And every time it happens the bar’s raised. Achieving the same heady heights becomes harder and harder. Yet those addicted chase it relentlessly and make it a lifelong pursuit.
To some, this may sound like a frivolous activity. Yet consider that all the while that euphoria’s being chased he/she is enjoying a healthy, physical pastime that connects one with nature, the elements and outdoors. Unlike negative addiction SUP surfing is positive. (As long as it doesn’t impact daily life and responsibility too much).
Post-session comedowns can see the rider walking round in a daze. Depending on how the individual processes situations will dictate how the aftermath manifests itself. This is a positive thing though and can appear in the form of a very calm, planted and lucid human. There’s no harmful side effects to pure joy. In fact, enjoying a lifestyle that revolves around Mother Nature’s moods can enhance the individual (until there’s a prolonged flat spell! We jest…).
The adrenaline SUP aftermath.
Moving forwards and the euphoric glow does fade. This isn’t to say we lose what we gained. Memories last forever and good ones are amazing soul food. But the buzz does fade a tad. This is why plans are soon afoot for that next session. When, where, how and so on are all subconsciously check listed.
If you recognise yourself in this article there’s no explaining to be done. You’ll already ‘get it’. For any paddler starting down the path trust us when we say you’ll enjoy your moment soon enough. And that’ll mark the beginning of your lifelong pursuit ‘chasing the search’. Stay stoked!
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