Outrageous Surf School: Stand Up Paddle Board Lessons

My new favorite sport is stand up paddle boarding also known as stand up paddle surfing. I’ve only gone out a few times, but I have a blast each time. Sometimes I stand up and paddle by myself; sometimes I stand up and paddle with my children riding on the front of the stand up paddle board. (they take turns.) Every time, I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s great exercise, one of the best core workouts around. I love being outside, and after all these years of living on Maui, my Hawaiian tan is coming along nicely.

My introduction to stand up paddling came during a regular surf lesson my wife and I attended at Outrageous Surf, a surf school in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. Their marketing manager, Kai Schmidt, mentioned to me that they were planning on acquiring several new SUP (Stand Up Paddle) boards in the near future. In addition to standard surf lessons, Outrageous Surf would soon be offering lessons in stand up paddle surfing. The idea of stand up paddle surfing intrigued me and I made a point of staying in touch with Kai so that as soon as their new stand up paddle boards arrived, we would be able to arrange a lesson.

About two weeks after our surf lesson with Outrageous Surf, I received a call from Kai that the new stand up paddle boards had arrived and lessons would be available in a few days. There was some preparation work that needed to be performed on the stand up paddle boards to make them ready for lessons and after that, they would be available for us to use. We booked our stand up paddle surf lesson for the next available day.

On the day of our lesson, we arrived at Outrageous Surf just before 8:00 in the morning to meet with Kai. He had decided to conduct our stand up paddle surf lesson personally. Like before, we put on rash guards and surf shoes before walking over to the beach for our lesson. And like before, our stand up paddle surf boards and paddles were waiting for us when we arrived at the beach.

Before getting in the water, Kai spoke with us about safety when in the water and gave us a lot of tips and pointers for stand up paddle boarding. This information would prove very useful once we finally get in the water. Using some steps on the beach to get high enough off the sand that the motion of paddling was not impeded, Kai taught us the techniques used to paddle the stand up paddle boards. Because of the nature of the activity, the blade of the paddle is tilted slightly forward to enable a greater transfer of force into the water. Because we are standing while we are paddling, the paddle is also used to help keep your balance,

With this new information, and a few strokes of the stand up paddles from the height and safety of the stairs, we were ready to try paddling our stand up paddle boards in the water. We brought two stand up paddle boards into the water and maneuvered them so that they were perpendicular to each other and the nose of one of the boards rested across the center of the other, forming a “T”. Kai held the stand up paddle board that formed the cross of the “T” and instructed me to stand on the other. This way we could practice standing without as much risk of falling off.

I kneeled onto the stand up paddle board with my knees at the center line and my ankle under my butt, and started to bring one foot up the way I learned during my “conventional” surf lesson. Kai stopped me before I finished and explained that this time he wanted me to jump to my feet in a single motion. I paused for a moment and wondered how this would be possible. I placed the paddle on the board, got on “all fours” like I was going to crawl, with my hands over paddle. I gripped the paddle and then with a single motion, I jumped to my feet and nearly lost my balance. This is why Kai had placed the second board perpendicular to this one. It helped stabilize the stand up paddle board and prevented me from getting dunked.

Once I was comfortable standing on the stand up paddle board, I learned how to use the stand up paddle to help me stay balanced. Kai instructed me how to slap the water with the flat of the paddle to keep from falling and how to use the paddle like the pole of a tightrope walker to keep my balance on the stand up paddle board. He went over the proper way to hold the paddle to alleviate stress on the shoulder and arms, and the proper way to stroke the paddle in the water to get the maximum power with each motion. The theory was great, but I was anxious to finish the training and have the opportunity to get out there and experience the stand up paddle board on my own.

After a few more minutes, Kai assured me I was ready to try it on my own. I jumped into the water so we could take my stand up paddle board off the stand up paddle board that was stabilizing it for me. This time when I kneeled onto the board, it moved a lot more freely. I hadn’t realized just how much the other board had been keeping it in place. I was more than a little apprehensive about standing so Kai instructed me to kneel on the board and begin paddling from that position until I felt comfortable enough to actually stand on the stand up paddle board.

Paddling the stand up paddle board from a kneeling position made it much easier to balance. It was still quite amazing to experience the water from that perspective. After a few strokes, I decided to try and stand. To my surprise, I was able to jump to a standing position in a single movement. And the stand up paddle board was still moving forward! I gripped the stand up paddle the way Kai had taught me and began paddling from a standing position. This was fantastic! From where I stood, I could see the fish swimming in and out of the reef. The water was so clear I could see all the way to the bottom.

From the vantage point atop the stand up paddle board, I could see over the waves that were coming in towards the shore. In fact, I could see the waves all the way from shark pit to break wall. Everything seemed so peaceful and beautiful. And then the waves came closer. Balancing a stand up paddle board in calm still water is one thing; balancing a stand up paddle board when the waves are coming in is another. And the waves were coming in fast. I struggled to keep my balance, using the paddle like a tightrope walker. I slapped the water with the blade of my stand up paddle, like Kai taught me. The left rail of the stand up paddle board was under water and the right rail was in the air. Then the right was under water and the left was in the air. I struggled to keep my balance, and the wave kept coming. I stayed as calm as I could. (To be honest, the water was only a few feet deep and it would have been no big deal if I fell off. I just didn’t want to fall off). Gradually, the wave passed under my stand up paddle board and the water calmed down. I was still standing. It felt good to have beaten the wave. With a smile on my face, I started paddling again and continued on my way.

I became more and more comfortable on the stand up paddle board as I continued paddling the calm waters in front of 505 Front Street. I looked over to see the crew setting up for the lunch crowd at one of the restaurants. For my first time out, I was doing alright, even if I do say so myself. So far, it was easy going in a single direction. A few strokes on one side, a few on the other. But as I moved farther and farther down the shore, it occurred to me, “How am I going to turn around?” In theory, it should be easy; in practice, I wasn’t sure.

I steered the stand up paddle board away from the shore, searching for a spot that was a little deeper and didn’t have any coral sticking up above the surface. As I approached a spot that looked about right, I increased the force of my stroke on the right side and alternated with a backward stroke on the left. The backward stroke had a tremendous impact on the trajectory of the stand up paddle board and almost immediately I started to turn around. After repeating the sequence a few more times, I was facing the proper direction, and I had lost all of my forward momentum.

Standing on a stand up paddle board in the middle of the calm waters off of Maui’s west side is a wonderful experience. Because of the size of the stand up paddle board, staying balanced is actually pretty easy. I took more than a moment to look around at my surroundings. The island of Lanai was clearly visible. The many sailboats and yachts occupying the water just beyond the break wall looked as peaceful as could be. On the shore, I could see the many surf classes being conducted for surfers of all levels.

As I was enjoying the view, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that another wave was coming towards me. I remembered something about a body in motion staying in motion and figured I better start moving if I want to have a chance of staying on my stand up paddle board. I began paddling as fast as I could and by the time the wave reached me, I was going at a pretty good clip.

Once again, I paddled a few strokes on the left side and a few on the right. I noticed paddling the stand up paddle board was becoming more fun as I was becoming better at it. Isn’t that how it always is? We love what we’re good at and we’re good at what we love.

In no time at all, I was back where I started. My wife was still there, kneeling on her stand up paddle board. Her back was hurting her so she never really had a fair chance at standing up. From the look of things, this had no impact on the amount of fun she was having. It seems that as long as there is water and sun, just being on a stand up paddle board is going to be a great time. Kai was still there, with all three of the kids on his stand up paddle board. Everyone was smiling and everyone was looking fantastic.

Before I got off the stand up paddle board I began planning for the next time. I reasoned, If I get up early enough, I can be at the beach by 8:00 am and paddle for an hour before I need to get to work.

808 Reviews Visitors Tip: There are two different activities commonly performed with a stand up paddle board. The first is stand up paddle surfing. This involves paddling the stand up paddle board into the waves, turning around, and surfing in. Instead of paddling from a flat position on the board, you stand while you paddle out. The second is stand up paddle boarding. This involves paddling the stand up paddle board in along the coastline without going into the waves to surf. It’s still good exercise, you still get to be outside, and you still have a lot of fun. You just aren’t surfing. This is my preferred activity for my current level of expertise.

Outrageous Surf School
“Stand Up Paddle Board Lessons”
640 Front Street
Lahaina, HI  96761

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About Maury Hoffman |Things to Do on Maui | Restaurant and Activity Reviews

Senior Editor of 808 Reviews and freelance travel writer, Maury Hoffman lives on Maui with his familiy, iPad, iPhone, and other gadgets. His writing proficiency is directly related to the quality of his morning coffee. He prefers Peet's Coffee, but also enjoys Living Java.

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