I love the way carving water with my paddle makes me feel: happy, exhilarated and passionate. In the beginning my happiness lay in learning new moves and being challenged by bigger waves and more recently, the adrenaline rush of navigating through a sudden crashing wave, reminds me that I’m living in the moment and how to thrive in unpredictable circumstances.
I love the feeling of powering my board with just my paddle strokes. It’s such a rewarding experience to dip that paddle into the water and, with a full and perfect stroke, propel yourself forward towards the horizon. There’s nothing better than being on the water. Take your board on a lake, river or in my case, head out to the Indian Ocean and surround yourself by all the sights, sounds and smells of nature.
I love the feeling of being able to easily reach over and dip my toes or fingers into the water. Whether you’re standing, kneeling, sitting or even laying on your board; you will see your surroundings from a unique perspective and you end up feeling like you’re a part of the water.
Who knew SUP or Stand Up Paddle Boarding could be so meditative. But with a backdrop like Mida Creek and Watamu where colourful endemic and endangered birds call lush tropical forests home, marine wildlife flourish, and meandering tributaries eventually lead you back to the expansive powdery beaches of one of the World’s most beautiful coasts; it’s easy to understand why the sport is so much more than just about being active.
If you feel like the water is calling to you, then you owe yourself to try SUP. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a combination of surfing and kayaking, and is currently the fastest growing water sport in the world. SUP offers an amazing full-body workout that improves core strength, encourages cardio fitness and even works on your balance with very little impact on your joints. It’s so fun, it hardly feels like an exercise!
We talk to super cool water sport aficionado Ben Kehlliher, owner of Tribe Watersports based in Watamu, Kenya operating out of the luxury resort Medina Palms about how to get started with SUP. Prepare for some serious selfie-taking envy.
Top 3 Stand Up Paddling Tips
If you’re paddling on the right, your right hand is lower on the paddle shaft and vice versa for the left.
To optimize the most pull, the first part of the stroke is the most important part. Extend your lower shoulder and lock your elbow in order to reach as far out to the front as possible. Remember to youse your entire upper body to push the blade deep into the water, and as you pull thorugh, allow your shoulder to rotate, twist from your torso and avoid leaning forward for power.
Don’t bend forward
Once you’re on the board, as a beginner, it’s natural to bend forward too much in an effort to compensate on balance. Remember, balance with your hips and not your upper body. Always look forward with your head and shoulders upright, don’t stare at your feet.
Going to fall? Hold your paddle above your head
SUP is relatively easy to learn, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never fall off the board. For those times when you lose your balance, aim falling into the water and not onto the board with your hands above your head, holding the paddle if possible.