I have been surfing on a SUP for almost fifteen years now. B-Team surf spots that are sparsely populated with junior varsity surfers are my forte. After any kind of ride, good or bad, we cheer each other on like we’re at a pep rally. Shortboards, longboards, SUPs … it’s all good. In contrast, A-Team breaks have their own unique vibe and unwritten rules. No funny hats. No Longboards. No kooks. No loud hoots.

A few years ago, "No SUPs” made it to that list. "Lesser known surfers shall not cheer or hoot for themselves or their brethren.” Nothing screams, “Beat it, kook!” louder than complete silence and heavy stink-eye from a local A-Team member. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

Throwing caution to the wind, I recently paddled out to a crowded lineup that is not SUP friendly. As in, not friendly at all. I was on my own with not another paddle surfer in sight. Rather than run the gauntlet by paddling straight out, I eased into the lineup from a safe distance away. A hostile mix of old, grumpy surf stars, hot, wanna-be pro kids, has-beens, drunks, surf-tweakers, and general misfits were gathered in a close knit pack at the take off spot. It was deathly quiet with a thick heavy vibe in the air.

For some unknown reason, I found myself smack dab in the middle of the peak on a nice set wave. I spun around and dropped in, surfed it down the line until the wave backed off on the inside. Nice!

I love cutbacks. Been trying to do a full roundhouse cutback on a SUP since I caught my first wave on one. This wave was the right one at the right time. Though this cutback ended up a semi-lurching affair, it accomplished the task at hand. As cutbacks go, not the best, but not a complete failure either. Kicking out of the wave, I heard a hoot. Not a loud “AWOOO!” just more of a subdued “woo”. But a hoot, none-the-less. I looked around, Just the same sweatshirt-hooded scalawags up on the cliff and twenty game-faced rippers scrambling around me in the water. No indication of where the hoot came from. But I definitely heard a hoot. Heard it right after the cutback. Was somebody waiting for me to acknowledge the accolade, only to laugh at the stand up kook? Was I like the dorky girl at the prom, asked to dance on a dare? I started to overthink the situation.

From first grade through high school, my family moved around a lot. I went to a new school, in a different town every year. As the new kid in class, I always sat in the back of the room and tried to blend in. Never raised my hand, and answered only when called upon. For Valentine’s Day one year, Mrs. White had my second grade class making heart-shaped envelopes out of thick, red, construction paper. We taped these hearts to the front of our desks. It was mandatory for each student to give a Valentine to every classmate.

With an envelope full of young love, I ran home to open my cards. One of them contained the coolest,multi-colored comb that I had ever seen in my eight years on the planet. It was made of see-through plastic with real bitchin’ colors running through it. My fascination with this unexpected gift was interrupted by my Mom calling me to the front door. Kimberly Summer, my fellow classmate, stood at the threshold. She was a popular kid who had never spoken to me before. “Did you get the comb?” I nodded. “I need it back.” I handed it over. She had intended to give it to Steve Wilson who sat at the desk in front of mine. Simple mistake. No big deal. Just a stupid comb. Hell, I never combed my hair anyway.

Still dazed by the mystery hoot, I surfed another wave as far as it would take me and paddled the rest of the way down to the next break. The waves were smaller and mushier there. I saw three of my fellow stand up buddies out in a sea of newbie surfers. Helmets, gloves and an assortment of goofy hats dotted the lineup. Even a couple of people wearing short-johns and booties. All sure signs of a low-vibe, B-Team surf spot. I surfed tons of waves in the next two hours. My compadres and I were loud and vocal as little girls at a slumber party. Turned out to be a regular hoot-fest.

~ s.west