Do you have any advice to new paddlers?
When we are just getting started paddling, we often approach the water and our equipment by trying to make it bend to our will. This leads to a stiff body. Relax! Don’t fight the water, it’s bigger than you, and it will have its way every time. Go with the flow. Let the water move you but don’t let it boss you around. Adjust your rhythm to match what the water is doing and let it be your partner.
Accept that you’re going to fall in and push yourself enough that you do crash from time to time. Even the best paddlers swim. It can be cold, it can be inconvenient, but if you get comfortable with it and break down your fear of falling in, you’ll find that you can push your edge more consistently and that your body and your board can do so much more than you give them credit for.
Practice where you want to paddle and paddle where you practice. All the board handling skills in the world won’t do you much good if you can only execute them on a glassy day.
Safety is incredibly important. Familiarize yourself with boating laws and learn to navigate. We live in an area that can get squirrely in a hurry: we have strong tides, funky currents, and areas that drain out at low water. Have your PFD, leash, and appropriate clothing if you end up in the water. Know your strengths and your limitations, be humble, and make conservative choices.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Find more experienced paddlers and tap into their wisdom. More often than not, you’ll get more than you bargained for and a friend in the process.