Gracefully standing on the board floating on the water. Gracelessly falling off the board into the water. This was my idea of stand-up paddleboarding. I’d seen the sports craze being done on waterways a thousand times and always thought it looked cool, but I never had the opportunity to try it out. So when I was on holiday at the TUI BLUE Sarigerme Park hotel and saw that stand-up paddleboarding was offered, I immediately jumped at it. I quickly found two co-workers, Tino and Cosmina, and we went to the water sports station “Fit for Sail” on the beach. Normally, stand-up paddleboarding – or SUP for short – takes place in the mornings when the sea is still quiet. But this was our holiday, so we slept half the morning and spent the rest at breakfast. “Then we can make an exception for you at 2:00 pm.” We were crazy excited.
Stand-up paddleboarding on the open sea
Up until 2:00 pm, the wind was gusting, the sky was dark, and waves were whipping across the sea. Cosmina looked very skeptical. “Who wants a life jacket?” exclaimed Ahmet, our stand-up paddleboarding guide. “I can’t swim so well,” said Cosmina as she took one of the vests. I did the same as I looked at the waves; a life jacket couldn’t hurt. “Is it likely that we’ll fall into the water?” Cosmina asked. Ahmet grinned smugly and nodded. Cosmina was all suspicious. Tino and I both wear glasses, but we had left them on land. You never know. The thick SUP boards were laid out and everyone was handed a paddle. Because the sea was choppy, we couldn’t start at the beach. Tino was good with whatever, Cosmina looked like ten days of rainy weather, and I wondered if it was a wise to try this for the first time in the wind. We were driven out to sea by boat with the SUP boards in tow and Ahmet told us how stand-up paddleboarding worked. “When you step onto the board, get on your knees immediately with your feet side-by-side. Support yourself with your hands. At my signal, you’ll rise to your feet one leg at a time and stand with your knees slightly bent. Look at the mark on the board. Keep the paddle close to the board as it goes through the water, always alternating the sides. Nothing can happen to you.”
Cosmina screams, Tino falls, I stand
Ahmet helped us each, one by one, from the boat to the boards and we paddled on our knees. At Ahmet’s command, we tried to stand up. It wasn’t as shaky as I thought, and I managed to get up gracefully. My problems came with the paddling. Because of the current, the board moved in a different direction than planned. Cosmina screamed as if she was on a roller coaster. Ahmet encouraged her and eventually she was up on the board. Tino, on the other hand, slid straight into the water and clambered back on his board like a drowned poodle. We convened and paddled parallel to the coast together. Since I have the eyesight of a mole without my glasses and have a hard time going straight anyway, as soon as I stopped concentrating on paddling, I found myself fighting the current. Not a good idea, but I managed to keep the balance quite well, which amazed me. Cosmina and Tino had also gotten the hang of the stand-up paddleboarding technique. It was really fun and I didn’t regret the daring adventure, despite the doubtful weather. We arranged ourselves for photos and paddled almost meditatively for a while on the Aegean Sea – sporadically interrupted by acrobatic contortions to keep our balance, of course.
How I almost sank a boat
The wind blustered up again and the waves got too strong for us beginners to paddle back to the coast, so Ahmet escorted us all back to the boat. I couldn’t manage to slow down in time and I drove right into the boat. And then it happened: I lost my balance and fell off the board. One of my fears was that the sea might be freezing. Fortunately, it wasn’t and, thanks to the life vest, I was at the surface and climbing back on the board in no time. It was actually really easy to pull myself back up onto the board again, and I did it on my first try. I wouldn’t have thought that! All my fears of stand-up paddling had vanished in the air, and I was even a bit proud of myself when I got back into the boat. And I was glad I had left my glasses on the shore!
On the return journey, Cosmina was a whole new woman. Tino, despite having an involuntary bath, was thrilled and would’ve liked to have stayed on the board a little while longer. Ahmet gave us a thumbs-up and praised us. “For your first time, and with these waves, you did really well.” We all agreed that we would want to do stand-up paddleboarding again. When the water is calmer.
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Stand-up paddleboarding is offered at the Fit for Sail water sports station at the TUI BLUE Sarigerme Park in the morning and costs 10 euros per person without a guide and 15 euros with a guide. Fit for Sail will also take you sailing, windsurfing, and kite surfing or will pull you through the water on a wakeboard, banana boat, etc. The owner, Suat, is known in Sarigerme as a colourful mariner and is rightly a favourite of the guests; he’s always in a good mood and telling jokes. You can find all the details about the water sport options on-site or on the BLUE App. The photos were shot by the hotel photographer Oğuzhan Erdoğan.