Having spent some of my formative years in Southern California, I have always harboured a secret dream: to be the recipient of Kelly Slater’s undying devotion because of my status as an uber-shredding, super-cool surfer goddess. When I started to see celebrities standing up on surfboards holding what appeared to be oars, I thought I might have a shot of making at least half of this dream a reality! I mean if Jennifer Aniston can stand up on a surfboard in a flat-calm bay without sacrificing perfect hair, I might have a shot in a ponytail, right? Curious and with visions of Kelly in my head, I decided to investigate.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding is the latest sport to “hit the waves” so to speak. At beaches and in lakes, folks are living out their Endless Summer dreams and standing tall on long boards! I decided I was ready to give it a shot and persuaded my friends to join me (knowing that the promise of time on and in the water was the only way I would get them to put down the air-con control). We signed up for a Sunday afternoon with HK Aqua-Bound Center, thinking the sport appeared simple. All we needed to do was stand up on the board and paddle, easy peasay! HAH! Therein lay some of the fun… we had to work, and work hard! With gravity as your opponent, you must stand on the board, use your core muscles to stay balanced, your legs to absorb the shocks of the waves (nothing more that ripples in our case), all the while getting the intense workout that comes with any paddle sport.
Luckily, we got our own celebrity teacher, Ken Wong, a Hong Kong actor and SUP enthusiast, so our lesson came with a bonus surfin’ style to make us picture perfect on the water. Ken has competed in the HK Paddle Board championships in addition to being in more than 20 movies. Needless to say, with our group, he had to rely on both skill sets. Twice in 10 minutes I found myself “in the drink” attempting to paddle up the wakes of passing boats. I made a splash both times, once greeting the water face-first and the other over the back of the board. The only thing bruised in these falls was my ego (and maybe my ear drums as neither my friends nor I could stop laughing). One friend’s arms grew so tired that she decided to assume a real surfer’s seat, and just sat on her board and watched as Ken paddled amongst us, patiently answering our barrage of questions. We ultimately paddled to a beach full of banana trees (SNACKS!) and then headed back to Stanley Beach knowing that the winds would be against us and therefore the paddle back would be tougher.
Once back on terra firma, we agreed that Stand Up Paddle Boarding is not the lazy-girl’s version of hangin’ a perfectly pedicured 10. It is a great way to take advantage of Hong Kong’s beaches and stay active, without having to melt like Frosty on the summer solstice. All in all a fun way to stay fit with friends, although next time I hope to cool down with an Evian instead of a tall glass of Stanley Bay!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding lessons are available at HK Aqua-Bound Centre. A two hour lesson for 2 people is HK400.
HKABC, Room 2202, 22/F, Causeway Bay Plaza Phase I, 489 Hennessy Rd., CausewayBay, 8211 3876
Born in Miami, FL, Tracie headed north for college and did not look back. After slogging it out for 16 years as a quintessential Type A, ENTJ, marathon-running Wall Streeter, Tracie finally took a long, deep breath. That gasp turned into the first of many OHMs and eventually a yoga-license. During this quest, she visited nearly 40 countries; trying the best, the newest and the oddest paths to physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Finally illuminated (not yet enlightened) she realized that, despite all she had been told, New York was not the epicenter of the world. Now, Tracie is two months new to Hong Kong, and with Sassy is exploring the city inside the gym, in the great outdoors and on hilltops. In a journey to feed both her curiosity about the financial markets and her new-found realization that not EVERYONE owns a treadmill, Tracie will document her search for the key to balance in a fast-paced, diverse and fun city.