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How to catch waves on a paddleboard
Friday, April 04, 2014 9:17 PM
The author's son, Tim, center, gets Lake Michigan surfing advice from Dave Schuster, right. PHOTO BY ANDY VRAKAS
Is it too late to change the name from “stand-up paddling” to “fall-down paddling”? That question kept running through my mind as I enjoyed my first SUP surfing experience. Stand-up paddleboards have become very popular very quickly and you see them everywhere on lakes and rivers. But did you know they make pretty decent surfboards?
Just before Labor Day, I received an enticing email; an invite to an impromptu SUP surfing clinic was coming together on the shores of Lake Michigan. Could I be at the beach a little north of Racine by 5 p.m.? Hot day, cool lake, free lesson. Why not? My sons and I dug out the wetsuits and water bottles, plugged in the GPS and hit the road.
Our host, Dave Schuster of Clearwater Outdoor, assisted by his daughter, Kate, met us at the launch with a trailer load of equipment and super friendly smiles. Clearwater Outdoor runs shops in Lake Geneva and Delafield, and Dave is the CFO/Outdoor guru.
The goal of SUP surfing is pretty obvious: Paddle out and catch a wave ride in. The execution of that simple idea is not so easy, but we learned a whole lot in just one session.
We were a group of about 10, ranging in age from early teens to early 60s, with not much combined expertise. A northeast swell was producing modest but consistent waves spilling onto the narrow, sandy beach. Conditions were perfect for a lesson. And the water beckoned.
The entirety of Andy Vrakas' account of SUP surfing on Lake Michigan appears in the April 2014 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy, call 888/706-4045. Or
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