adn challenge strapline

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.


Here’s what it was was really like.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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)