One of the first things you learn when you get on a stand up paddle board is to bring your big girl panties. It’s not for the fainthearted. The second is to learn to balance. You start with a wide board, a wide stance, some flat water and a fully engaged core. With a little ocean knowledge, courage grows and with a little practice, balance becomes second nature. Riding waves starts to take first place.
If you are a mum, however, once you learn to surf, your SUP balancing act has only just begun. Balancing your new obsession/sport with motherhood becomes your next juggling act.
I asked Tammy how she gets her juggling act right, finding the time and the courage to improve her skills on her Stand Up Paddle Board, while also being a busy Mom.
Tammy, please tell us about your family
We are very lucky to have four precious children. Our eldest, Benjamin, will be a teenager in two days. He loves animals and bird watching, so he has claimed the Ohana for slow paddles and nature watching. Then next in line is Levi, 10, and he is our sporty little SUP loving, surfer, skater boy. Shiloh is 5. She loves the sea and has recently started boogie boarding and has surfed her first waves on a Mini Mal She wants to SUP on a pink board (it has to be pink!!!!) Then we have Eden, who is 2, and she loves to run on the beach in warm weather and build sand castles.
I home school my children which gives them a lot of freedom to pursue the things they love and love what they learn.
How long have you been stand up paddle boarding?
The first time I tried paddle boarding was in November last year at Seaforth. Prior to that I had been longboard surfing for about 9 months.
That evening at Seaforth we loved SUPping around the little bay. Two days later I took Ben down and we went for a SUP with Gary and Candace (from XOTB). We had an amazing morning watching penguins, we saw a ray and jellyfish. It was a perfect, windless, clear morning where you could see to the bottom of the ocean. I loved how laid back and sweet both Gary and Candace were to us and really fell in love with this new way of connecting with the ocean.
How do you manage to balance stand up paddle boarding and children?
Aaah, it is always a juggle and a bit of a rush. Levi surfs with me, always. Ben is currently learning to surf and sometimes boogie boards when I SUP. The little girls stay at home with a little program that our domestic worker does with them. I try to limit that to one morning during the week.
In summer Levi and I get up at 5:30 and SUP from 6-7 and then head home so Andrew can leave for work at 7:30. Generally I get an hour in the water but even if it’s a “power half hour” it’s worth it and I still feel great.
Your husband, Andrew, also SUPs. Do you ever get a chance to SUP surf together?
On the weekends we have a babysitter who will sometimes bring the girls to the beach or play with them so Andrew and I can try to have one surf together. But that doesn’t always happen. If not, we take turns on the weekend and he does flat water training one or two nights a week with Levi. Sometimes Ben joins them. It is not easy as we have to make suppers early, sort the little girls out, sometimes send Levi in an UBER to meet the other spouse at the beach or Vlei, and its just a crazy juggle always 😂
Tell us about the contest. What made you decide to enter? How did you train for it? Have you entered any contests before?
I haven’t done any others. We were going to the SA champs for Levi to compete and Tarryn King, who has given me a few lessons, said I should try the social, to which I laughed, hysterically, and then my husband signed me up. I was coerced, for sure. But they believed in me, which is so cool, because I love both of them to bits!
I’m always terrified at a new spot. Had you ever surfed or SUPped in Durban before?
No I had never surfed there before.
How did you prepare for a break that is not your home break?
Aw geez, it was sink or swim. And I had a GREAT board, the Coreban Platinum 9 , otherwise I would have sunk! Tom and Tarryn King were with us there and held my hand through it. I could have been fitter and better, but it is the social division and it was fun. It is, however, the fastest and steepest wave I have ever surfed. New Pier is not for the fainthearted and it took all my courage to surf.
Contest day, how many heats did you have to surf? What were the conditions like? How did you feel paddling out, and surfing? Were you confident in the heats that you had it?
I surfed one heat on Saturday and one on Sunday.
Saturday was low tide and strong onshore winds. I spent so much time trying to get out that I only caught one wave and came last in that heat. But experience paddling out in wind and whitewater at home helped me.
I kept thinking, between gasping for breath and taking numerous waves on the head, ‘I am from Cape Town, we have the South Easter. This is okay. I have done this before.’
The one wave I got was a good one.
On day two, I paddled out and got caught in an unlucky wave that washed me into the pier but a lifesaver jumped in and took my paddle so that we could swim (board attached to my ankle) out of harm’s way. I now have some purple spots on my body! My husband really thought I would paddle in and end the pain right there, but no, not me. Not after Cape Town swell and wind. I went on to catch two waves that were the winners for me. I definitely was not confident that I had it 😀 It was hard for all of us social ladies.
Where to from here? Any more contests?
Geez I don’t know! I am looking forward to a lovely gentle wave back home on a small day 💗
One thing I know, it takes courage and commitment and a supportive family to do what Tammy did. The Hawaiian word, Ohana, the same name as one of their Coreban boards, seems to be the right one here.