The Zen of Paddle-boarding

The Zen of Paddle-boarding 

8 Oct 2020

This is the second of two articles about standup paddleboarding (SUP) authored by Tim Tao, an executive with the Asian Tigers Hong Kong office. Tim is a SUP devotee and in this article, Tim describes the Zen of this increasingly popular sport. 

Focus, calm, and being humble are three things I bring onboard when I SUP. Focus guides me helps me adjust my body postures and footwork to maintain balance when the sea becomes rough. Focus keeps my line of sight over the horizon and enables me to stay balanced. Looking down is the surest way to fall. Having a specific destination is needed to keep me going in a rough sea. You also need to build perseverance as progress will stop when you quit paddling in a headwind. Staying calm helps me deal with all kinds of unpredictability I encounter in the open sea.

In SUP, your body tenses up, your joints become rigid, and falling becomes more likely when fear takes over. It is easier said than done but keeping focused on a distant island or landmark is less threatening than staring into the deep, dark sea. For all these reasons, a calm mind will open up lots of possibilities on how you handle challenges. 

Being humble will save your life. I remind myself whenever I set off from the shore that it is not a competition but another solo exploration trip. The first thing I do is estimate the distance and the route I intend to follow. I already know my physical capabilities and I don’t exceed those limits. I have heard heartbreaking stories of paddlers who became lost in the sea and some have even died from fatigue. I learn to respect the power of the sea. 

SUP activity is generally most enjoyable in calm seas and low winds. Therefore, it pays to check the weather carefully before you venture out on the open seas. Be sure and watch for sudden squalls and for lightning storms which can come up very quickly. Stay closer to the shore if there is even the slightest doubt about the weather.

To be sure, physical fitness is a prerequisite for SUP but equally important is the mental side, the Zen, of my favorite pastime. I hope my words inspire you to give SUP a try, I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I do.