- Sophie &Friends
I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason. True, I may not love the experience while it’s happening however, when I look back, I often find that everything leads to some sort of necessary, informative, and often exhilarating conclusion.
Case in point, my 50th Birthday present. You may or may not know that my family chipped in to buy me a Stand Up Paddle Board from Joe Blair in Solano Beach, CA. The board is beautiful. In purchasing it however, I learned a very valuable lesson - never buy a board without first taking it for a “test drive”. Sadly, I didn’t discover this until I unwrapped the board in Mexico and took it out for my first ride. What followed was a week of basically being “bucked” off of my board. As it turns out I’d purchased more of a “surf” board, than a flat water board. A bit of a bummer for my first time in the market.
My Blair Paddle Board
However, what came from that slightly crushing experience is an absolutely fantastic connection and experience that I want to share with everyone.
When I arrived back on American soil, I became determined to do whatever it took to conquer my Mexican board. In a search for lessons, my husband Scott suggested we try a surf shop near his old office in San Rafael. They had tons of paddleboards that you could rent for $20.00 an hour. I have to admit, I was a tiny bit hesitant. Here I am, this 50 year old lady, weren’t all these hip surfer types going to turn their noses up at me, and make me feel like an idiot for even thinking I could wrangle this sport?
My anxieties couldn’t have been more misplaced.
Let me tell you about the 101 Surf Sport atmosphere! Walking in their store is like walking into a party. Everyone wants to welcome you. The owners Cort Larned and David Wells, long-time windsurfers and boarders, started their business with one major goal in mind: “to create a sports community that inspires and promotes getting people to experience being on the water”. David says age isn’t an issue, you can be as young as a parent feels secure, and as old as mobility allows; right now their record is 85.
Post race fun at 101 Surf Sports
What I love about the place is that everyone is so friendly and knowledgeable. They really want you to get out there and have fun - safely! 101 Surf Sports offers retail in Windsurfing, Kite Boarding, Surfing, Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding. They offer lessons and repairs as well. If you are looking for a fun hour or two of adventure on your own, they rent Paddle Boards and Kayaks. The space is huge, and filled with everything from paddles to board shorts. I think my favorite aspect is their “try before you buy” experience. After chatting with the guys I realized that there were so many local places that I could launch a board. I might as well get a board for here in SF. Cort hooked me up with Pete, who was amazing, and advised me on the right sort of board for my needs: an inflatable board that I could use in the Bay, but also deflate, roll up and take to Mexico. Scott and I tried about 12 different boards before we settled on a Solstice Palau inflatable SUP.
It is a great spot for kayaking as well!
Now I’m out every morning at the Oyster Point Marina, 5 minutes from our house, just as the sun is rising. It’s become my meditation, my morning jog, and my lifesaver.
My morning ritual
If you’ve ever been interested in trying out a board sport, 101 Surf Sports is the place to go. If you are an avid sportsman looking for other fun people to connect with, this is your place too. These guys offer so many fabulous programs, from Paddle Board Yoga Basics to Lacrosse to parties and tours, that there is bound to be something for you. Their location is prime, right on the San Rafael canal. Out the back door of the shop is a protected waterway that allows any novice to gain the confidence he/she needs before attempting the open water. For those who are looking for more of a challenge, a nice 1-mile paddle leads you right to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay.
The shop is open, Monday through Friday 10 to 6, and on the weekends from 9 to 6, rain or shine. I would recommend it for a family outing, a team building exercise, or party with your friends. There are even picnic benches and a patio where you can recharge after your paddle.
For my part, I am so grateful to everyone over at 101 Surf Sports. Thanks to them I’ve regained my confidence on the water, and am ready to hit the waves in Mexico. I’m even considering taking windsurfing lessons! Who knows, there just might be a surfer chick hidden in this 50-year-old skin!
For more information on 101 Surf Sport, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, San Francisco, check out their website - http://www.101surfsports.com - you might just discover your inner surfer too!