Battle of the Paddle 2014

Featured image from Riviera Paddlesurf 

Annabel wrote this pre-BOP but didn’t get it sent to us in time. It’s a little creepy how dead on she was.


You know that feeling when you strike a match and it splinters as you scratch it against the box?

Sometimes you just get a bad box and you’ve snapped two of the three remaining in the box and you’re relying on your last one to strike a flame. It’s probably why they invented lighters.

Now picture a row of matches lined up ready for someone to swipe a flint and light a wall of fire. It strikes, a plume of smoke rises up.

So why the matches? Simple. This weekend we’re going to see the human line of match sticks. Think of athletes being the match head, the stick being 12’6 of carbon and the flint being the waves.

In the past few days either the flint (waves) have been too strong for the matches or the sticks have not been strong enough. Yes, in the past few days my bet is that the running total of TOTALLY match sticks snapped is heading upward of 50

A bad batch you might say? Possibly. Too much flint (waves).. definitely.

Like lambs to the slaughter we’re about to enter a game of Russian roulette. A cross of poker versus motor cross on waves.

Battle of the Paddle 2014

Above photo from Starboard SUP’s BOP video

If there’s a common theme running through this monologue, it’s one of the unknown.

Tomorrow we do battle, but we’re not battling in the known sense of predictability we’re doing battle with an unruly ocean heaving 4-6’ pitching grinders in 15 wave sets at us.

Yes, there’s a channel. But a channel is of little use when you have 15 walls of white water cascading at you and no where to hide.

Add in the mixed swell directions and it’s less of a channel and more of a winding, twisting torrent of water trying to escape the beach. Grab it and it’s like a freight train on an escalator, miss it and you’re back playing dodge ball in the impact zone.

Battle of the Paddle 2014

In year’s past, form has been an indicator of who may or may not come through for one of the coveted paddles on offer. This time you can throw the form book out the window.

No matter how fast you can paddle, how many races you may or may not have won, how well your training or preparation has been, tomorrow we all line up equal. In many ways, it’s a sports critic’s dream, in other, dreams will be crushed and realised as easily as a match stick.

So tomorrow I pledge this. There will be a show. It will be a show of bravery and of survival. It will be a show of heart, courage and humility. It will be a show of athleticism and skill.

In the age of action and adrenaline sports, where ice skaters line up four abreast and take to a frozen motor cross downhill course, tomorrow the sport of SUP will truly legitimize itself as the aquatic version of Red Bull Ice Crushers.

It’s gone next level, the ground swell is pulsing and the randomness has been elevated.

Tomorrow the predictable shall become the unpredictable.