We are all certainly enduring uncertain times, but there is no escaping the predictability of the onset of winter descending upon us like a grey veil over what has been an extraordinary spring and summer period. At the start of 2020, few could have predicted, SUP would reach new heights of popularity and that it has done so, not via the hype of racing, or the heroics of super-stars of the sport, but rather, it’s done so all on its own and in this sense mass consciousness has taken over during this period of time so as to becoming its own self fulfilling prophecy. SUP apparently, needed a cause and raison d’être and it seems a global crisis has for some perverse reason, become the catalyst by which it has ultimately flourished like a field of wild flowers in spring.
Through a maturing process, SUP has become its own self promoting, low impact, low tech, low skill entry level, recreational, water-floatation activity for the masses, taking the industry completely by surprise. It’s not so much that SUP is a ‘cool’ activity, but ‘quirky’ in the sense it’s not as sublime in the same way as say surfing or windsurfing can be said to be, possessing a certain “Je ne se quoi” nevertheless appealing, not for its ability to scare the pants off you, but more perhaps as an instrument by which to exploit serenity and indeed one’s self, a mode of transportation for body and mind, loved and revered for its ease of use and speed of access. As numbers increase, so too does the size of SUPs global community, so as to form its own idiosyncratic niche and family of participants and fans. Interestingly though, SUP has yet to influence fashion, not as surfing or windsurfing did through the 60s and 80s, but that could well be a factor of a very changed society or indeed it may well come.
On calm days, as you stare out over a lake, river, lagoon, bay or estuary and see SUPs gently dotting the waterscape, you sense individuals engaging in a new level of connectivity which many users have seldom experienced on any level. For the most part, the majority are new to a water based activity, exemplified by an often excruciating level of concentration as they go through the motions of activating long forgotten instincts and primitive motions hidden deep within, dormant since mankind ceased to be a hunter gather.
Struggling sometimes with balance, looking far from co-ordinated or at ease with the paddling stroke, you sense an awakening of the senses, a bombardment of the nervous system, a revelation with every stroke taken and with every nervous twitch of stabilising muscles accounting for the board’s interaction over water, body and brain are coming to terms with sensory overload. As you move through these learning phases, you can begin to relax and appreciate your surrounds, taking in the natural world around you so to elevate your soul and your mind to new and ever better places unknown.
SUP presents few road blocks to entry, fewer fears of failure or limitation and has none of the entrapment issues of kayaking or the complexities of windsurfing. In short it’s a simple recreational water based activity for those with simple wants and needs which in short, appeals to the masses and not the few who revel in the challenge of greater levels of complexity of equipment, of full on engagement with the elements as an adversary and a need for living on the edge.
No, these are the sort of athletes who subscribe to the idea, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room”. Humanity and the media have spoken of uncertain times ad nauseam for centuries on account of pivotal moments, but we are now genuinely living in such times and SUP may just be a lifeline for those who may well be living on the edge of reason or rationality in dealing with the current global crisis. Indeed SUP may well be preventing many thousands from falling over this edge.
We all need some form of distraction during these times, indeed at all times to bring balance and reason to life and living and so as autumn and winter falls upon us, consider how you can maintain your time on the water. This is not in-fact a time to put away your board, but a time to consider your apparel options for staying on the water, including your footwear, for arranging your life around diminishing daylight hours
As a brand we’ve had to survive by means of mental gymnastics and we can proudly boast that we are now one of the largest SUP providers on the planet with aspirations of growing not just upwards but outwards.
“Mistral, Water Life and Living for all seasons, not just for the summer . . .”