11 May 2013

Oh paddle board, full of grace

Me today (no really!)
 Today courtesy of the desk magic that is Scoopon in January, I tried paddle boarding for the first time.  Now for those of you not acquainted with this water sport, you basically balance on a board that is like a surfboard, with an oar like you dragon boat with but longer, and push yourself across the surface of water in a relaxed stance.  Amazing for your core strength and mostly you see the likes of Jennifer Aniston or Matthew McConaughey* snapped pushing themselves around blue oceans in sunlit locales.

And that was exactly my experience.

The end

Ha.  No really.  My loving husband and daughters came to watch to be supportive of my urge to try new things two days before the voucher expires and I am very lucky that two weeks short of winter, Sydney was still rocking temperatures in the mid-twenties.

There were five of us in this little class (all using up their vouchers at the last minute) and we were being taught by Ricardo from Brazil who sized us all up in the same way that a comedian sizes up his punchline.  We had a quick demo on land - paddle like this, turn like this, this is the front of the board, this is the back of the board, start on your knees and then boom! stand up straight, right lets go.

All five of us chortled insanely while shuffling towards the water thinking "No problems, I'm sure it really is that easy".  Actually I may have said it out loud but Ricardo doesn't get sarcasm so he just kind of just glided along, smiling his white teeth at us over his shoulder which caused me to pause and go back for my sunglasses.

So off we go, the whole on your knees thing was nice and simple and while wobbly I watched as the four in front of me stood up and started after Ricardo (now so far in the distance it was just the yellow spots on his shorts that were still visible).

So up I get on the board, well aware that all those on shore are getting to view my considerable backside lurching upwards in a way that was probably very traumatic.  But I was up.  I was wobbling, but I was up!  A few tentative strokes and thinking "relax, oh! I can do this" when my right leg spasmed like a Rick Astley tribute dancer and I plunged off the board into the water much like a whale being returned to the ocean.

Actual footage taken of my dismount
The water was so cold it knocked the wind out of me and my board went one way, my oar another, my hat another and I thought I was going to drown ten metres from the water's edge.  In full view of my children. Though I did have the semi-conscious thought that I hoped Nick wouldn't attempt to save me because god only knows Cassidy would be straight in the water drowning herself if he took his eyes off her for even a second.

Anyway, then I took my sunglasses of my face so I could see and started treading water rather than just drowning and while cold, I was fine.  Though slightly alarmed because I couldn't reach the bottom or my board and Ricardo was long gone. I was too cold to be embarrassed and anyway - at least I'd tried right?  And not died.  What better parental example is there eh?

One of my fellow learners yelled out and probably sent up a flare to attract the distant Ricardo's attention and within probably not very long he'd hightailed it back, given me my board back, retrieved the hat and crooned - "You probably did not stand straight enough". I hauled myself back on my board so I could be closer to him when I punched him, but with a twinkle of his yellow spotted gluteus maximus he was gone again.

Faced with no other option but to follow him if I was going to punch him, I got to my knees and just concentrated on paddling while my fellow learners made lovely sympathetic noises while silently fist punching the air thinking "Thank fuck I wasn't the first to fall off".**

And then there I was, up on my feet and away across the lake.  My feet went numb, I got bingo wing chaffing, I bumped my knee quite hard in a shallow water manoeurve because graceful is just not part of my genetic makeup but I did not fall again**.  And the weather was so delightful I was lovely and warm skimming across the lake's surface imagining myself as the paddle boarding champ of the world.

And despite the photos, that's how I am going to think of myself from this point on****.

The end.  No really, this time it is.

* I wanted to use another actor's name because I can never spell this one but I just googled it in the end because he is the male Jennifer.
** Actually nobody else fell off at all.  I'm a regular community service.
*** Yes Sarah, just the once.
**** Andy, I loved it - I'd definitely do it again.