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Pride comes before a nose dive

When James Yaffa told me last year that there was no way I could do the spider challenge, I hit the floor in his office. He timed me. I did it.

When James raised his eyebrows at the idea of me SUP surfing...well, this is that story. 

Here's how it began: "Why don't I film myself SUP Surfing?" 

Let's set the scene. This is what CoastalWatch promised my first SUP surf (buzzword alert, sorry) experience would be like.

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Here’s what it was was really like.

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Things had begun to go awry. Still, when I told the Let’s Go Surfing bloke I had never SUP-ed and he panicked, I blithely assumed he had compared me to his mum and made a number of incorrect assumptions.

That happens a lot. I always take it as a challenge. 

“I can ride a surfboard,” I stated. It wasn't an invitation for a rebuttal. 

Look, I’m not in Kelly Slater’s league and sadly, the wisdom of age plus a few near death experiences have moved me further down the board riders’ food chain. There are fifteen year old girls who surf better than I do. But, broadly speaking, I can ride a surfboard.

“You’ll be OK out the back in the flat, but SUP surfing is really hard,” he noted.

“Whatever,” I thought, “You have no idea what I can do.”

Also, I had no intention of going ‘out the back’. 

First shock. My surfboard is 5’6”. My SUP board was 10’6”. I can carry my surfboard to the beach (a 40 minute walk). I struggled to drag the SUP board into the water. I accepted Let's Go Surfing bloke's humiliating offer to do that for me.

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Second shock. When I tried to float the board across the surf to avoid a six year old boy on a boogie board and what appeared to be an imminent attack by his father, it was picked up by a wave and the rail rammed against my throat. I felt a lump in my throat. Ok, I did want to cry, but the lump was actually a physical response. 

“OMG, I’m going to suffocate.”

Third shock. My interest in SUP surfing vaporised at that moment. A dislocated shoulder didn't obliterate my interest in snowboarding. A broken elbow didn't stop me ice skating. I've had death defying falls off more pirouettes than I can count. And broken my elbow twice trying to kick my nose. I love dance. Bugger. Why did I tell James I’d do this? 

Grrr. I paddled this love child of a cruise liner and lethal weapon (surfboard style) to where the waves stopped pelting my head. Damnit, I was ‘out the back’.  

I stood up, had a go at paddling (SUP style), turned around, knelt and waited for a wave. This wasn’t about proving Let’s Go Surfing wrong. I just wanted to get out of the water. 

I caught a wave. I stood up. Nose dived immediately. Returned to the shore.

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My son, the filmmaker, said, “You were too far away. You look like a dot.” I’d gone “out the back,” and back, for nothing. 

“Give me a go,” son said. Grown-up children think they can do everything better than mum or dad. I have to admit that lacking the wisdom of age and despite a few near death experiences, he surfs a lot better than I do. 

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I was beyond caring about grown-up son’s recently reattached shoulder - achieved surgically six just weeks ago. I’d promised James some video footage. 

Grown-up son did marginally better than I did. I got about three minutes of film. But while I was paying attention to writing this story, he did the video editing. “I’ll just take out the bits where I look stupid, he said.

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This is what’s left. (Do not be distracted by the girl in the swimsuit or you'll completely miss Julian's moment !!! of triumph)