It’s not so much the balancing on the board that’s difficult, but rather the micro-contractions of what feels like every single muscle fibre in my body. I’ve been out in Muizenberg’s knee-high waves for only 20 minutes, and the exertion is already making itself known – Elvis would be impressed by the jerky-knee action I’ve got going on. ‘Knee-high waves’ … shhh, don’t tell my surfing buddies. But what a fantastic full-body workout SUPing (or stand-up paddle boarding) is.
But I’m not out here for the workout, although it’s an appreciated side-effect. I’m here because for half my life I’ve loved surfing and riding waves, I have a passion for the ocean, and I’m refuelled by the meditative time spent bobbing between wave sets. Out here I also get to unclutter my mind, while I ponder the mountainous skyline of the Cape Peninsula. And I want to experience all that while doing something new. How’s that for a sales pitch?
In recent years SUPing has gained a tsunami-sized following, on a global level. The sport has Hawaiian roots, but is now enjoyed on just about any body of water you can imagine – the ocean, dams, lakes, canals, lagoons and rivers. I’m told you can even get SUP boards that accommodate lightweight tents, for long-distance paddling trips.
In spite of my lifelong love affair with the ocean, SUPing is entirely new to me, so I’ve hooked up with Surf Emporium on the Muizenberg beachfront to give it a go. It’s owned by Roxy Davis (herself a six-time SA surfing champion) and her husband William, so you’re in capable hands. Their quiver of surf coaches are experienced, encouraging and, above all, patient – a crucial quality when your trainees are spending more time in the water than on their boards. You can either rent a board and struggle along yourself or book a session with a coach, which I highly recommend.
My body calls it quits before my heart, but by the end of my session I’ve successfully caught and ridden two waves, watched a mama whale and her calf frolicking just offshore, and gained a huge amount of respect for expert SUPers. If you’re up for a watery adventure while down south in Cape Town, get your feet on an SUP ASAP.
Follow Mark Samuel on Twitter: @MarkSamuel_ZA
Who Surf Emporium
Where Beach Road, Muizenberg beachfront, Surfer’s Corner
When Daily (weather and sea conditions permitting), 1.5 hour sessions
Cost R330 for one person, R280 for two, with a coach (a wetsuit is included in the cost)
Contact +27 21 788 8687, +27 82 562 8687, www.surfemporium.co.za
Photography Kendall-Leigh Nash/HSMimages.co.za