Like every Summer, us members of the Sea Tales Team will share wih you, in the best possible way, our experiences in the Venetian lagoon. Today, I Michela will be at the helm.
I’ll tell you about our first offshore adventure, in the morning spent together with Little Maui Surf School. We tried SUP (Stand Up Paddling), a water sport that in recent years is emerging also in Italy.
Our morning in SUP started like this
Early rising, breakfast and straight to the beach, where Veronika, the instructor of Little MAUI Surf School who will be with us all morning, awaits us. She greets us with a warm smile and invites us to leave our stuff in their beach-station.
“Today the sea has gifted us”, she begins, alluding to the perfectly flat mirror of water opening up in front of us.
It’s a phrase that catches my attention, it amazes me.
My interactions with the sea solely involve a week-a-year trip to the beach, butthis time span is not enough to create such a deep bond with it as to learn to intercept all its moods. It may be that, to those who do not live with it, the sea gives the illusion of always being propitious.
Veronika, on the other hand, knows how to recognize every movement of the sea and knows how to appreciate moments of peace that, in the collective imagination, are taken for granted. When she looks at him her eyes light up, and when she talks about it she does it with the delicacy reserved only for what is truly special. She treats it as if it were a person, and as a person she loves him, rejoicing in his generosity and embracing the storms nonetheless.
Along the shoreline, the boards are lined up, side by side, facing the direction of the sea. For me and Giovanna it’s the first experience with SUP, while Tiziana has already had the opportunity to try it in the past.
The ABC of SUP
Veronika gives us some preliminary information on how to approach the experience.
“First of all, this” she says, waving an anklet anchored to the rear end of the SUP. She invites us to tie it on one foot, making sure to keep the lace facing outwards so to not hinder our movements.
“Do you see this crack?” pointing to a black recess in the center of the surboard. “It’s the handle, but it also indicates the height at which you will have to keep your feet to stay balanced on the board. Make sure to keep them parallel and spaced apart “.
The instructor then explains how to manage the paddle, taking into consideration the faint wind blowing from the South-West. She invites us to hold it so that the handle exceeds our head by about 20 cm, and row alternately left and right.
One-on-one with the Sea
It’s time to leave. We hold the boards and let them slide on water. As Veronika explained us, we will initially go out to sea by paddling while sitting on our knees. With a sudden and decisive movement, we get on our boards at the same time and head towards the horizon. It takes a few minutes to become familiar with the element and understand how to move in order to expertly guide the board according to our will. Concentration on the gestures to perform makes it difficult at first to take your eyes off the paddle, although there is also the desire to raise your head and admire the view from a new perspective.
I try to balance the weight in an optimal way and, in a moment of greater safety, I cast a glance in front of me. The sea is everywhere, bright, solemn, and proud, and lulls us with its obstinate chant. His timid opposition to our motion is not enough to annoy us, so we continue straight towards a distant and invisible destination. In front of us, Veronika waves us: it’s time to stand up on the table. The most difficult and delicate moment has arrived.
A good start is half the battle!
We joke to eachother, placing bets on who will fall first. Thanks to her, despite short, experience, Tiziana is the first to reach an upright position. Giovanna follows her shortly after, with equal success. It’s my turn: I hesitate, then I take courage and get up trying to keep all my concentration on my feet. I feel the table wobble under me, I have the sensation of falling and, for a moment, I close my eyes … When I open them they are still there, standing on the table, standing on the sea. The feeling is great.
I row in order not to lose my balance and in the meantime I enjoy, this time for real, the whole scenario that opens up in front of me. We are following an imaginary path that seems to have no end, the eye is lost in the milky veil that blurs the horizon making it even more mysterious and, therefore, even more attractive. The other girls on the team are rowing in the same direction as me. We are not aiming for a goal to reach, yet we are coordinated in following the same, imperceptible path. The beauty of SUP is also this: being alone on your board and at the same time also being in company. Giovanna is the most enthusiastic of all and she doesn’t stop rejoicing on how happy she is about this new experience.
The hardest part is done
In a short time, we feel at ease and begin to change the direction according to our inspiration. We are floating on time. Veronika’s reassuring voice becomes increasingly distant: she never loses sight of us, but she no longer has important information to communicate. A bubble of silence and freedom forms around us. The beach, with its colors and suspended words, is far away. The sensation is that of being light years away from the objects and people on the shore, whose physiognomy we now hardly recognize.
Yet, we will have to go back there soon, not without a hint of melancholy.
I turn to Veronika, who stands on the horizon like a goddess of the sea. She is comfortable in her element, at home in the place she has chosen to live. Looking at it, I remember a quote from Emily Dickinson who said: “The shore is safer, but I like to fight with the waves of the sea”.
I smile to myself. It seems as if she wrote it especially for her.