A surfer reflects on a year-plus of standup paddling….

More like 18 months actually

1. The crowds made me do it.

When the Bypass was first built connecting Sanur to Nusa Dua, it was a quiet two lane road bulldozed through the mangroves. You’d hop on your trail bike at Sanur with your boardbag slung over your shoulder and haul along the empty road, splotched here and there with squished mudcrabs that hadn’t survived the previous evening’s dash of death across this new obstacle blocking their way to the sea. (Ironically, now that wild mud crabs have nearly become extinct in the South Bali mangroves, local Suwung/Jimbaran fishermen are starting to farm them – in restaurants, they are about as expensive as as lobsters). Twenty minutes later, you’d be paddling out to Nusa Dua, maybe with three or four other surfers.

Now, fugedaboutit. Traffic jams on the roads, surfer jams in the line-ups. Where once was mud crabs are now the hideous hordes with their horrible habits.

As one surfer turned stand-up-paddler put it, “I don’t SUP to get waves from the crowds, I SUP to get away from the crowds.”

2. I’m glad I did it.

A lot of times, Bali’s famed thundering reefs look more like Waikiki on Valium. You can wait for swell, or you can go stand-up paddle the ankle snappers. Where I live, there’s a lot of open lagoon space with fringing reefs that offer marginal board surfing but works just fine for the SUP. I reckon 80 percent of my water time this past year has been on the stand-up paddle board, time I wouldn’t have had if I’d just stuck to surfing.

It also puts me in the water when there is a head-high swell that draws out the crowd like flies to road kill. I love my fellow man, I just don’t enjoy getting close to them in the lineups. So I opt for the stand-up paddle board and a quiet stretch of reef.

From my experience, there are four big differences between SUPing and surfing. One, on a SUP board, you’re a lot more mobile and can move in and out to catch whatever rolls in, increasing your wave count. (Also, you have the momentum to make it around sections that a normal surfboard doesn’t give you.) Two, being upright while taking off down the wave’s face is much more of a swoosh feeling than paddling under the lip and jumping up to your feet. And three, you got the damn paddle to worry about on wipeouts, especially in large surf, not to mention that you have to be super aware of where the SUP beast is in proximity to your body, because it could smash your head and break your bones.

Plus, I am more fit:

buff 3

3. I’d rather be surfing.

I really would. Nothing like the simple stoke of a old-style, three-hour session in overhead waves….but without my fellow man.

I guess I’m just a dinosaur just about ready to be buried and fossilized.

(PS You really didn’t think the photo was of me, did you? It’s a free image by David Castillo)

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6 Responses to A surfer reflects on a year-plus of standup paddling….

  1. Bukit Bear says:

    As long as you can remain one with the ocean… it doesnt matter what equipment your riding 🙂

  2. Maybe in the next decade of life I shall try a boogie board…

  3. Jordi says:

    I’ve been living almost 3 years in Bali (2 years east coast and now west coast). I love your stories, always looking forward to read the new post on mondays. Keep up the good work, your fellow reader.

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