About Stand-Up Paddling (SUP)
I feel my knees buckling as I hear the waves crash on the side of my board, drifting with a life of its own. The expanse of sea before me is captivating, but the only thing on my mind now is that standing on a surf board is a lot harder than it looks. And I'm falling.
Stand-Up Paddling, as its name suggests, requires one to stand upright on an oversized surfboard and navigate water by paddling - much in the way you would manoeuvre a kayak. If you ever felt "bored in Singapore", this is one of the things you have to try out once. Its also a fun activity to do with friends or your children.
I'll be perfectly honest - I'm the antithesis of a sportswoman and I'm probably even more inept on the water. But we could not pass on the chance to check out "Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Stand Up Paddle Singapore" - more commonly known in short as Stand-Up Paddle Singapore. They were one of the first to bring this fascinating hybrid sport to our shores. I challenged myself to literally stand on water.
The challenge of Stand-Up Paddling is always in that split second between squatting and standing straight up. Stand up too slowly and the board shifts in a different direction. Jump up frantically and you fall into the depths of the ocean. It is A LOT harder than it looks!
All first timers are given a good 20 minute briefing by the instructors on land before they start. Our instructor Marian was not only very helpful and encouraging, but she also took a waterproof camera along to help us take pictures.
Yes, I'm wearing a life jacket a mere 100m from shore, and I'm also strapped to my board by the ankle. But the thought of falling prey to the unpredictable waves is still daunting.
I kneel precariously on my board – broader and longer than the usual 6-7 ft long surfboard so it can take the weight of a vertically standing person.
Recalling what our instructor Marian had taught us, I roll up my toes, plant my feet firmly on the base of the board and try again, to stand upright. Deep breath. Firm grip on my paddle, one hand on the very top, one down the middle. Up I go again.
Advice from the expert
“Keep paddling, it's like cycling – you can't balance unless you keep going,” Marian's voice resonates as I furiously slice the sea around me. My knees knock even as my feet stay hip-width apart.
I look again to Marian for assurance. She stands upright on her board, paddle in hand and camera in the other, keeping a watchful gaze on our struggles against the ocean current. Her face lights up and she even snaps a picture of me wobbling precariously on my board in an awkward half-squat position.
I look enviously at her confident stance atop the longboard, as she steers the current like an experienced boatman – on a flat, wobbling plastic board. How does she do it? As my mind wanders, so does my balance. I find myself once again kneeling on my board with my face flat.
After a series of embarrassing face-board encounters, I slowly learnt to time my ascent from a squatting position to a standing one. Paddle in hand, I mustered the strength from my abdominal muscles and thighs to hold my stance firm. Relying on my rusty kayaking skills from school camp days, I finally steered the board left, right and out to sea.
One with the wind and waves and you will succeed!
Stand-Up Paddling is a fine balancing act. You must sense the changes in the wind and move your body an inch forward or back, pandering to the whims of the waves beneath. When my body finally learned to give in to the rhythm of the wind and the waves, I finally opened my eyes to the view.
I had never been this close to the surface of the ocean without being submerged. The sea licked my feet as the sun bathed my shoulders in the early afternoon warmth. I could taste the salt of the sea on my lips as my paddle chugged at the rippling surface of the water, spraying the sea all around me.
Unfortunately, my jaunt with the sun and the sea was short-lived, as my knees once again gave in to the rocking motion of the waves.
As we made our way back to shore, I could already feel the lactic acid build-up eating away at my sore thighs. But give me another 30 minutes to recuperate and I bet you I'll be back there again, trying to subdue the ocean by standing on its waves.
I'm no water sport enthusiast, but it was a remarkable fight against nature I experienced that day – one that taught me to listen to the rhythm of the waves instead of awkwardly defying it.
Where to Try Stand-Up Paddling in Singapore
Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Stand Up Paddle Singapore is located at Mana Mana Beach Club, East Coast Park Beach (Car Park E2). All classes are 1.5 hours long.
Participants will be taught Stand-Up Paddling techniques, life skills and ocean safety. For children, parents must be present to accompany their child.
Classes are as follows:
- Group classes (3-8 people): $60
- Private classes (1 person): $90
- Private classes (2 people): $80 each
Board rentals go at $30 for an hour and $40 for two hours.
Stand-Up Paddle Singapore also holds weekly SUP Yoga lessons at $50/lesson.
For reservations and enquiries, contact SUP Singapore's owner, Rachel Charis Ng, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9773 3045. They are having some promotions over the June school holidays which you can check out below.
Rachel is a former SEA games silver-medallist turned surfer mom entrepreneur. She hopes that SUP and water sports can be a natural part of Singaporeans' lives as it is a fantastic family activity that promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. Check out our interview with her soon!
This post was brought to you by Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Stand Up Paddle Singapore.