Is Paddleboarding Stupid, Or Just You?

posted by / Stuart / January 10, 2009

Just you.

Just me too, until yesterday – but as with most humans living above the Mason-Dixon Line, I’ve evolved. Yesterday I paddleboarded for the first time after years of refusing to touch the foreign craft. I made all of the usual excuses: could be surfing instead, why not surf instead, let’s just surf instead, surfing instead would be optimal, and so on.


Paddleboarding seemed foolish because it was all of the work (paddling) without enjoying any of the benefits (surfing) – sort of like being an anorexic baker. They even advertise it right there in the name: PADDLEboarding. I might have been more enthusiastic about Mochi-ice-cream-boarding or Natalie-Portman-boarding. But paying $2000 to scratch around in still water and never get to your feet always sounded a little off. It means fewer faces in the lineup, though, so what’s the harm? Go wild goofballs.


Hence when my phone buzzed early yesterday morning with an invitation to go for a paddle, it was mostly due to Honolulu’s lack of swell and 30 mph sideshore trade winds that I agreed to sip the punch. Surfing, for once, was an even less attractive endeavor. My host was Mikey Cote, winner of the 2008 Molokai to Oahu race with a time of 5 hours and 48 minutes. He’s in the kind of physical shape normally attributed to African cheetahs. I would be using one of Mikey’s many custom Joe Bark paddleboards – top of the line. All in all the experience was akin to borrowing a Merrick to be pushed into waves by Dane Reynolds.


We pushed off from Cote’s boat ramp and headed west with the wind at our backs for a “short” one-hour leg down the coast. Mikey and his crew of like-minded brawnyboarders think nothing of runs twice this distance (against the current). Even for a mildly capable surfer, though, it was no cakewalk. I fell off twice – while lying down. Mikey’s a bit of a prick, so he goes on his knees and even stands up occasionally just for laughs. Bit of a prick, he.


Despite looking awkward and drafting hundreds of yards behind the others, I had about as much fun as in a good surf session. Paddleboarding with the wind is really more riding than paddling – it’s like proning in on a last wave that never ends. It takes a lot of effort to stay on that wave, but the effect is nothing like a surfing treadmill, or like swimming laps in a pool, as I had imagined it would be. And since paddling is most fun when it’s blown out, there’s no need to choose it over actual surfing. Like Japanese friends, the two go hand in hand.

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  • Brian

    Why the Mason-Dixon comment? I think the article could have been just fine without it. Maybe you are forgetting all of us here in FL that continue to evolve.

  • tc

    still sounds pretty gay to me

  • Mike

    I’m still searching to why this beats sitting in a kayak

  • Jeremy

    You have evolved have you? You have an ignorant mindset but go on and live your life.

  • Joe Capaldo

    You dumb Yankee. Ya I hear there is really evolved people in Detroit. Had no idea that is the future of evolution. Screw you and your ignorant comment. Your just jealous your not a southerner.

  • Speedro

    The South is lame, as evidenced here.

  • Ivan Galmukovich

    Paddleboards in and of themselves are illogical. Standing up, and paddling? Really? Inefficient, tiresome, and undue stress on the lower back.
    As soon as you hit rough water or a large wake from a power boat you’re not going to be standing very long as they become quite unstable.
    Someday, people will come full circle and enter the age old crafts of long ago, such as Whitehall’s, Peapod’s, and plain old Rowing Dory’s. I also predict a glut of kayaks will be on the more in a fews short years. Though better than a paddleboard, they’re still wet and super confining. Nothing like a nice traditional rowing boat. Fast comfortable, safe, and dry!

  • Conley Reiter

    You have obviously never touched a paddleboard.

  • Conley Reiter

    I am guessing that none of you have ever touched a paddleboard. It is amazing, right on par with kayaking. Maybe even a little better than kayaking.