inventing new ways to play in water. On water. Several
offshoots of surfing – such as wind surfing and kite surfing have
attracted some but the degree of difficulty has kept their appeal
whole thing fits in a backpack - under
stands alongside activities such as canoeing, skiing and
hiking in an important way: you don’t have to be especially competent
to get some fun out of it. It was surprisingly easy to take my first
ride on the calm waters of a local beach, and I’ve watched several
rookies master the basics. I was also surprised at how endurance wasn’t
an issue. With only a few minutes of practice on the lake, and some
expert tips from a friend, my first real trip involved spending all
afternoon on a peaceful Assiniboine River. No more taxing physically
than doing it in a canoe. In fact – given what we now know about humans
and sitting – I shouldn’t be surprised how few aches and pains that
you like a challenge you can step it up.
flatwater and a few day trips with your canoe? Try a seven day
circuit at Lac La Ronge and/or – try some rapids. Mastered the
blue runs at Lake Louise? Try some moguls. No problem with a 25
km hike in Riding Mountain National Park? Try the Chilkoot Trail.
challenge was fast water, but that wasn’t too much of a
problem. It was predictable. It kept you on your toes, rocked you just
a bit, but I was able to adjust and, for the most part, stay on my
feet. I quickly learned that falling off was no problem anyway – part
of the experience. What could be safer? Lifejacket on. Tethered
to the board so it doesn’t escape on you.
aboard and continue.
with visible rocks to dodge was the next challenge. I approached
the first ones on my knees and was re-assured right away. The
paddleboard is very manoeuvrable when you take to your knees but it
wasn’t long before I was confident enough to try standing up through
rapids. No problem unless the rather long fins ,that give it
manoeverabilty, catch on a rock. That can throw you right off.
Wearing a helmet is a good idea. I also soon learned that I can get
shorter fins for river trips when rocks will be an issue.
offer another challenge. I had encountered standing waves
in rapids with some success. You see them coming – and hit them head
on. On a lake you will want to learn to take them at any angle, and it
took me some practice. My first try was on modest ½ metre gently
rolling waves. I got on – and they threw me off. It took maybe ten
tries to be able to stay upright for a short stretch. But then, I just
learned to roll with them for a bit.
around was the next task and that also took some tries. But my
experience then, and subsequent experience helping a few other
beginners get started, has shown me that our bodies are amazing at
dealing with all balance-related issues. Most us can learn to
anticipate and adapt to the water’s shifts. We were born to stay
that higher waves, including breaking waves, are obstacles to be
attacked as we are ready.
to use such skills as I have – and just enjoy my time on my
board – or I can keep pushing myself to try more demanding trips and
face more demanding conditions. It’s all fun.
and accessibility are important issues. Because my paddle
board is an inflatable it goes everywhere – fitting with room to spare
into the back of my small hatchback. That feature means that I use it a
lot more than I ever used my canoe – and I really liked using my canoe.