Board? Check. 

Leash? Check. 

Wetsuit in case of cold water? Check. 

Trunks and rash guard in case it’s warm? Check. 

Yesterday’s KFC for lunch? Check. 

Sunscreen? Check. 

Paddle…? Paddle??!  DOOF!


Unless you plan on body surfing naked without swim fins, we are all bound to forget something eventually. As in all things pertaining to life, it’s all about the details. I’ve learned over the years that the little things are the big things. It’s no different with water sports. The details are what makes a sport … a sport. Some details may cost more, and some are made out of carbon and cost way more, but it’s the accessories that make a sport what it is. Each piece is an important cog in the wheel of fun. Every item serves a significant function. Without any one of these essential ingredients, the entire process crumbles like a cake without eggs. A pole vaulter doesn’t get very far off the ground on one of his forgetful days. A skateboarder without a skateboard is just another guy with tattoos. A track runner without shoes? Just another lean guy tip-toeing around in dolphin shorts.


We are lucky. Being addicted to stand up paddling means you really only need to remember two main things, just two: a board, and a paddle. Seems simple enough, almost Zen-like. A true case, if there ever was one, of the sum of the parts adding up to more than the whole. Forget just one of these two important items and your day is toast. Or in my case, a frantic, very un-Zen-like, red-faced man on a drive back home to grab my forgotten paddle. On a Sunday. In mid-morning summer traffic in Santa Cruz. As the wind was about to fill in. As my surf buddies surfed and had fun. As I hit every red light on the return trip. In a car that smelled of old wetsuits, bad chicken and the sweat of impatience. All just to get back to where I thought I was going to surf with mi amigos, almost one hour before.


It’s not like I’m a stranger to forgetting things. Over my 30-year career of windsurfing California's North Coast, I’d average one or two days a season when I’d space out on a main ingredient. Windsurfing is a sport that has plenty of parts, all which are key to maneuvering a board in the surf with a sail stuck to it. This usually happened on really windy days when the surf was pumping. Those were the times when some mast or sail would be carelessly left behind in my driveway like an abandoned puppy, as I sped away in a clueless rush to get to the wind and waves. There’s probably a life-lesson to be learned there somewhere … again with Zen.


On one of my forgetful windsurf days years ago, I raced the 20 miles up the coast in record time. It was only then that I discovered I had forgotten my wetsuit. Driving back home was not an option, neither was sailing without a wetsuit in 50 degree water and 30 knots of northwest wind blowing. The only person with a spare wetsuit that day was Glen DeWitt, owner of Rainbow Fin Company. Glen stands at 6’8”. He has his suits custom fit to his long and lanky frame. Myself, over a foot shorter, the polar opposite of long and lanky (think short and fat). I windsurfed that day looking like Glen’s chubby little brother, complete with big rubber cuffs at my wrists and ankles in addition to all the wrinkles of an ill-fitting wetsuit. But, I did have a smile on my face.


It’s destiny that standup paddling found me when it did. A sport that requires that I remember to bring only two main ingredients is a blessing. That’s after I find my car keys and remember to throw out the rest of that chicken.