Every once in a while, a Facebook memory throws you down a rabbit hole.
I had been publishing the Mullet for a few years at this point and was starting to gain traction with the website. I’d been there the year before with friends who knew Dana Point, where to go, surf and eat. This was back when the tents were for everyone, not just a barrier for open paddlers to walk around. Zing…
Things were tight. I mean really tight. Hobie was one of my first advertisers. They called me after a meeting in which they discussed how a bizarrely-named Carolina blog could pass Yahoo, edge toward google for referring traffic. Sean Douglas wanted to know how that was possible, but mostly wanted to advertise to boost the attention they were getting from an unknown baitfish blog. I only had a few advertisers beyond them and was freelancing writing to pay the bills. I’m still freelancing 8 years later, so my dreams of lifestyle came through, but none of the assumed riches of the SUP boom. lol.
At LAX, I asked for the least expensive car they had. I didn’t need roof racks because everything I was going to paddle was already there. The only thing I had with me was my QuickBlade paddle that I checked with the airline. I didn’t even think it’d be an issue. “We have a Smart Car.” Hmmm… ok. I’ll take it. Whatever that is. It was $13 per day with unlimited mileage and fuel efficiency in the mid 40 mpg range. That’s the right budget.
When I found it in the parking lot, I wondered where the back end was. It was impossibly small. After a quick search I found out it was actually super safe and got great gas mileage, so I got in and started the drive to San Clemente to see my board. The car was fast, proved easy to park and cheap to drive. It drove it like an adult go kart. Unfortunately, the paddle didn’t fit, so I had to have it stick out the passenger window, putting me at risk of a jousting accident. No joke, I had to be really careful with the bike lane.
When I pulled up to the Hobie Warehouse in San Clemente, the car was the joke that kept on chuckling. We put my board on the roof just to see what it might look like. Keep in mind, this was pre-Instagram. This photo could have launched Kookslams. The rest of the weekend is another blur of open technical racing and distance paddling. I volunteered in the pit to help with boards and people face-planting on the gravel.
Why I loved this memory
Again, it’s ridiculous. The car is ridiculous. But so were many of the things we all did when the sport began. So many things we continue to do in the textbook SUP self-deprecating style of paddlers who just want to have fun, race, surf, whatever makes us happy. We’ve been comfortable in our own skin from the get go. Accepting of the unusual and new, awkward and silly. And in an effort not to go all nostalgia on you, I just want to say that the spirit remains. The fun. A part I love about this community.
Those who come to the sport now don’t have to have been there to get it. They can enjoy all the stoke that the sport created and still supports today. That initial paddle tribe may not be intact, but their legacy lives on in new tribes of paddlers.
Finally, this photo brought up a wave of appreciation for so many people in Dana Point and beyond who first fostered this sport, this lifestyle, this community and laid the track for so many to come to the water, together, to have fun. Wherever you may be, I hope you’re happy and on the water.
What’s your worst rack job? Kookslam worthy moment?