By Tom Blake
Last week, Tod Bryant, a former neighbor in San Clemente said, “Now that you’re retired, what are you doing to keep busy?”
“I go stand-up paddle boarding five times a week,” I said.
Tod, a young-looking, 66-year-old, enthusiastically added, “SUP is great for people in their 50s to 80s, providing good exercise and social interaction with other people. You should write an article about SUP.”
While it’s no secret that the sport has produced world-class stand-up paddlers who compete worldwide, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy it or be successful at it.
Tod is right about the social interaction. I paddle with five different men, ages 50 to 70, most often with Russell Kerr, from Laguna Niguel, who is in his mid-60s and retired, and he is the former chairman of the board of the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, I am amazed at the number of women who participate in SUP. I asked Robin Gordon of Monarch Beach why she enjoys it so much.
Robin said, “Three reasons: 1. SUP provides entire-body exercise. 2. It’s social; my husband Bruce and I can chat while paddling. 3. Being outdoors and enjoying the ocean is wonderful.”
“Why are women so good at it?” I asked Robin.
“Balance,” she said.
On July 4 at Baby Beach, I saw Steve and Barrie Boehne, the owners of Infinity Surf Shop on Del Prado in Dana Point. They were with friends Mac and Gloria McLaughlin, who are from Laguna Niguel, on the Boehne’s 21-foot SUP board, which Steve hand-crafted.
“Women embrace SUP because it is good, easy, outdoor exercise,” Steve said. “Because SUP surfing in the waves is mostly segregated away from regular surfers at Doheny and San Onofre, the SUP surfers are more welcoming to each other at those areas, so the percentage of women SUP surfers is higher than at regular surfing spots.”
Barrie added, “Women like SUP because it’s a way of getting together socially, which is fun while experiencing nature and being captain of their own ships. They can stay in shape and do this at any age.”
Mary Ann Remer, 60, Dana Point, said, “SUP is my therapy on many levels. It thoroughly strengthened and healed my injured back. It is my ‘go-to’ for enjoying God’s gifts in nature, to meditate and regroup.”
Mary Ann added, “Veteran surfers with knee and shoulder challenges get another chance to relive their passion on the water. And mothers with their babies can SUP. There is a mother who paddles with three toddlers regularly in the harbor. People include their dogs on their boards while enjoying our blessed weather and ocean. There are group Yoga lessons on SUP boards.”
Two of my surfing buddies, Bob Lacy and Jim Shockey, both in their 60s, are accomplished stand-up paddlers. They keep reminding me how to paddle correctly: short, quick strokes, not big, long drawn-out strokes. I’ve got that form down now, but I still can’t keep up with them.
For people who want to give SUP a try, I recommend they take a beginner’s lesson. There are several great surf shops in Dana Point—Hobie, Killer Dana, Girl in the Curl, Keli’s Outrigger and Infinity. Employees in those shops are more than willing to help. Rent a board and take a lesson.
On July 4, I introduced my partner Greta’s daughter, Tammi Bell, 54, and her husband, Stephen, 51, of Honolulu, to SUP. They both were up and paddling in minutes and did great.
As the popularity of SUP grows, Dana Point Harbor, with its calm waters, is going to become a bit more crowded with seniors, retirees and lots of women taking up the sport. The harbor and ocean are for everyone including casual swimmers, surfers, boaters, kayakers, fishermen, and now SUP folks. You can’t blame them; it’s a great place to be outdoors, and the parking is free.
The Next Singles Age 50+ Meet and Greet will be at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, Dana Point, Thursday, July 30, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Carl the Disc Jockey will spin the oldies. For information: 949 248-9008.