we got a story or two to share. Just like everyone else.
First Paddle Board. Glass ankles to glassy waters...
The first time I ever witnessed someone on a paddleboard gliding through the water to me, it looked like a symphony of effortless movement, I thought to my self this must be awesome, and I needed it in my life.
So after scratching up some funds, I was ready to get my first paddleboard. Back then, there were no inflatable boards plus not many boards to be found inland, and it was mostly a coastal treat, so I loaded up and found myself beach-bound I was headed down to the Gulf of Mexico. Panama City beach! The pristine waters and beautiful sandy beaches.
I strolled into a random surf shop smiling from ear to ear as all the new boards glimmered at me, almost whispering silently in my ear. Pick me! Pick me! I felt like time no longer existed as I took it all in. One board stood out like a shark in a pool to me, almost as if a spotlight was dedicated just for it. I told myself that's the one! As I was pulled in by the flashy marketing skills, I stood there touching the board probably more than I should have. But just under the radar of the employees. Right then and there I knew this thing was coming home with me. I looked down at the price tag, and then reality proceded to open hand slapped me back to the real world. I yelled out $1,400.00!! is this in pesos? Knowing damn well even if it was this fancy board would still be out of my budget.
Now this time, I got the attention of an employee with my verbal breakdown. You see, I walked into one of those kinds of shops that's about profit only, and the focus is to drive sells, and it doesn't matter if the customer is better suited on a different board even if its in stock or not this shop wanted sales, and I understand sales are significant after owning our own business but customers need what fits them. So as the employee walked over, I started to ask questions about the different sizes and shapes of all the boards, and so on, I did my research some, so I knew a few things but was no expert by no means and still not today. I was dishearted because of the employee's lack of not just basic knowledge of the boards but no passion at all. I thought If I had access to all these boards, I could be broke for a lifetime trying to acquire them heck! I would even work for boards. Maybe he was having a bad day.
I asked him, hey, how about some lower-priced boards. Staring at me for a moment, I was shaken and asked myself self, did he see me touching the board?? But then asked the dreaded question well how much you got? I paused in confusion for a second and told him $900.00, which was a lot back then!! Rolling his eyes towards other, possibly big-spending customers walking in, he walked away from me. He just pointed his finger where to go in the back. So I walked over and started sorting through boards trying to find one in my budget. Finally Boom! I got one as I blew the dust off it revealed a smooth basic design this was a simple board, so no fancy gadgets just a clean all-around board as I began to smile, the warming feeling of pure joy hit me. Little did I know this board was smaller than I needed, but being such a greenhorn in the paddling life, I could have cared less at the time.
Packed up and on my way, I remember driving down Front Beach Road with my board on top of the jeep, and the style was no doors and no worries. I kept this board for years, and I must have paddled a million miles on it in the end.
Back at the beach, I could barely park my jeep with the amount of joy pulsing through me. It was like the first Christmas day you could ever remember. I was ready to paddle! As I walked proudly down to the ocean sporting my new board, I even had a little audience going some older girls were checking out my board and me while lounging on the beach. I turned to look at them and slightly pulling my sunglasses down, reviling the top of my eyes with a fierce, piercing look. Me thinking O yea, they knew I was the real deal. They probably thought I was a local. Glasses back up turning towards the open ocean, it was time to paddle and show off these skills to my newfound audience. Then it hit me HOLY SHIT! I have no clue what I'm doing. The sales driven shop never even put the fin in for me, so I had nothing to go on. I figured ill pick it up. I'm reasonably athletic — me telling myself that with no fin in my board and adjustable paddle on the lowest setting staring off into the abyss of the ocean.
There I was standing up, and the second the salty ocean wind hit my face, I was in love. I had found my passion But! This Wasn't till after my learning curve session in front of my lounging audience. No, I completely embarrassed myself on my first time out. When I did stand up the first time, my knees were shaking like naked Eskimo with no igloo, and I proceeded to look like a brand new baby giraffe walking down a modeling runway while wearing high hills with a 15 MPH headwind in 1-2ft surf. I fell off in front of my sweet bikini-wearing audience so many times I completely lost count. Heck by this time, I was growing, not only a few bikini spectators, but we had a full-on crowd coming in people. I'm pretty sure to this date people thought I was on drugs out there and possibly fighting an invisible ninja. I finally made it back to the shore, and there I stood utterly out of breath and entirely out of any chance of scoring a chat with the bikinis. I even lost the ability to hide behind my sunglasses since the battle of the invisible ninja claimed them as well. I remember the look the bikinis gave me, but I can still hear their laughs to this day.
I scurried off that beach pretty fast that day. As time past, I got comfortable on my board and went on countless adventures with it. It was always my go-to if i was having a bad day or even a good day at that. It replaced many of my activities and held a special place in my life. In 2015 I sold my first paddleboard riddled with repairs, and each scratch held a memory of a lake or beach. I sold my first board to help fund my project to design our own branded boards. I still remember the smiles of the excited couple that purchased that board, much like the smile I had on mine the day I got it so many years ago. Seeing them drive away was a bittersweet moment. I often wonder where it's at today.
Moral of the story, you need a board that fits you. The cheapest and smallest is not always the best, nor is it the most expensive one, and if you ever find yourself fighting an invisible ninja, secure your sunglasses.