A few years ago, I wrote a blog and asked “Why Do You Paddle?” I spoke about all that paddling has brought to my life, and why I will continue to do it. So, 3 years later, I want to know: Why do YOU paddle?
Seriously, I want to know. Why? What brought you to the sport? What keeps you in the sport? Tell me.
The more we get caught up in competition, the more our egos get in the way. It seems we forget the very thing that brought us into the sport in the first place. Do you remember your first craft/board/boat? I do. We had a pink double sit on top kayak. My first SUP was hand-carved out of foam in the Largo High School Woodshop.
Like I said in my previous post, Rob and I got into paddling together over 17 years ago. We hesitate to call ourselves veterans (Jeez, are we that old??), but 17 is nearly 2 decades. We were fortunate to have experienced some of the best coaching in the world, and have experienced a paddling life that most people will never. For all of that, and for all who provided us those experiences, we are forever grateful.
A little over two weeks ago, we hauled most of our outrigger canoe club to the other side of the planet to compete in the Queen Liliuokalani Distance Classic. (We’re in Florida, so Big Island Hawaii is the other side of the planet) We brought paddlers of all shapes and sizes, some with experience, but most fairly new in the sport. We spent a little less than a year preparing our crews for the race. We spent countless hours practicing and rigging, and even more discussing the team privately over our dinner table. Rob and I bickered, tears were shed, paddles were thrown. We spent hours away from our families, and prioritized this team in front of our own needs, often paddling with them for more than 4 hours in one day.
Yes, we can say we sacrificed. We sacrificed a lot. However, at the end of that day, that race, the
Queen Liliuokalani Distance Classic, we realized that the experience that our paddlers had was LIFE CHANGING. In those few hours, we saw each of our paddlers grow as athletes, as paddlers, and, best of all, as people. We had provided to our crew what so many had provided for us in the past, and we were blessed to have been able to facilitate that. Words can’t express how proud we were that day, and how honored we are to know and paddle with the people of our crew.
At this point in our paddling careers, we have matured and (maybe) have become enlightened in the ways of right and wrong. good and bad, Aloha and bad mana. With the growth of paddlesports in the past few years, we find ourselves giving back as much as we can, be it coaching, race organization, helping those who need help, and/or volunteering to take on a tough jobs for the sake of the greater good. In order to be successful, we have to put our egoes aside, and sometimes (most times) take the harder path. It certainly isn’t always easy, but in the long run, it’s worth every sacrifice.
Yes, I paddle for adventure. I paddle for fitness. I paddle for those small, priceless, powerful moments. I paddle to be a better person. I paddle because it has brought more to my life than words can express.
So, I ask you again, why do you paddle?