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Stand-Up Paddling: You’re Never to Old to Learn

Melody DeCarlo

Girls4Sport team rider Melody DeCarlo

BY MELODY DeCARLO

I have been surfing for forty-two years.  During that time, I have seen equipment go through many transitions, and I have always tried to keep an open mind as things changed.  I have gone from longboards to shortboards, trifins, quads, bonzers, and back.  I have a quiver that covers all of those.  I have never lost my passion for surfing, yet, even as it is happening, I am surprised as my passion for a new sport grows.

I watched with interest as Laird and other hardcore surfers took up stand-up paddling (SUP).  Last summer, as week after week of Florida flatness went by, I started thinking about what great exercise it would be to SUP on flat days.  But since it would be such a big investment, I held off.  This year, as summer approached, I was ready to make the purchase.  I went to a few demo days and tried different boards.  I bought a used 10’6” and paddle and I was on my way.  My plan was to paddle on flat days, either in the ocean or the river.

Funny how plans can change.  After several flat water paddles, I was out on a small day and caught a wave.  What happened next was a surprise.  As that first wave picked me up, I got the same feeling I had as a kid on that longboard catching my first wave.  It was exhilarating.  And addicting.  I wanted to do it again and again.  Within two months, I downsized to a 9’6” so it would be easier to handle in the waves. 

Stand-up paddling has opened up a new world for me.  Surfing will always be my first love, but now I can be in the water when it is too small for my longboard or when I just want to ride something different.  Sometimes we get a group together and explore the beautiful islands in the river.  In just a few months, I have paddled with a school of bonnethead sharks, had a manatee swim right under me, and paddled with dolphins, rays, and fish.

Stand-up paddling has given me a new perspective of all the things around me. I am so happy that I was open to trying something new.  I look forward to each new day and new adventure.  Hopefully, this is just the beginning of the story and there will be many more tales to tell.

Melody DeCarlo is a surfer and a Girls4Sport team rider who lives in Florida.  She began surfing in 1966.

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1 Comment

  1. valerie says:

    I agree….you are never too old to learn…or get up and move! When I turned 50 this year, I was asked to join a YOLO SUP team. I thought, ‘Why not! I love being around the younger folks and I love to move.” Not long after practices and doing a few races, I was off scouting out my own board. I have a beautiful Hobie 10’6 and am loving life! My son, who is 6, rides with me sometimes and sometimes, he paddles his own starter board which doubles for his more favorite sport, surfing. Girls! Keep moving and trying new things~

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