Obviously we love our time at the beach and in the ocean for recreational reasons. And there are always going to be those who want to do such activities competitively.
A couple guys in my family fit this description. Our boy, for example, is not only an avid surfer — surfs every single day he has off from work — but also likes to compete in surf contests.
The Coach doesn’t surf in contests anymore, but he does surf for fun as often as he can. He has a regular surf date with his best friend every Sunday afternoon. A few years ago, he started to “cross train” on a paddleboard in order to stay in condition for surfing.
To clarify: I’m not talking about what people on the mainland call a “paddleboard” — the real name for which is a SUP, or stand-up paddle, board. The difference is pretty straightforward: on one you’re standing up, on the other you’re kneeling or lying down, what they call prone.
A prone paddleboard looks somewhat like a surfboard, and you lie on it on your stomach and paddle with your arms like a surfboard, but the similarities kind of end there. For one thing, the board is anywhere from 9 to 15 feet long, much longer than a surfboard. Also, the bottom of the board is rounded like the hull of a canoe, rather than flat like a surfboard. This makes it more hydrodynamic, which is what you want as you’re trying to propel yourself across a stretch of water with only your, you know, arms.
Anyway, when our boy came home from the mainland after college, The Coach talked him into doing the paddleboard cross training thing, to help him improve his surfing. The next thing you know, our boy was entering races and had designs on doing the biggest paddleboard race of them all: the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships.
So that’s how, in late July, I came to be sitting — for six-plus hours — in an escort boat in the Kaiwi Channel between the islands of Molokai and Oahu, watching my husband and son paddle a board, in a relay format, for 32 miles.
It just occurred to me: this probably qualifies as an extreme sport. Because the best way I can think to describe it is … grueling. Took a year or two off my life just following along in the boat, helping them stay hydrated, and timing their 20-minute turns on the board.
It’s hard to imagine anything harder, but I guess they must have had fun.
Because our boy says he wants to do it again next year.
Which means I’ll need to decide if I want to sacrifice another year or two of my life in the escort boat.
This is the twenty-ninth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.