By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsApril 24, 2009
WAIANAE, Hawaii - Blue Star Card members grabbed paddles and stood next to large stand-up paddleboards at Pokai Bay Beach, April16, for a lesson from the Schofield Barracks Outdoor Recreation Center (ODR).
The eight family members listened as Gerald Vidal, recreation assistant, Martinez Physical Fitness Center, Schofield Barracks, explained various procedures and techniques for successful paddling.
With the sand balancing the boards beneath them, each family member practiced knee positions, foot placement and stance, standing up and paddle strokes. Launching the board, dismounting and safety were also discussed.
"Don't think about balancing; just do it," said Rich Robinson, assistant manager for ODR, offering advice. "Use fluid motions."
Family members then launched their boards into a steady sea and practiced the techniques. Within minutes, nearly all the participants were standing and paddling like the pros.
"Look at everyone," said Pete Bautista, program specialist, ODR, pointing from the shore. "They are all up and on their way.
"That took no time at all," added Bautista, smiling.
Participants took several laps around the bay, stopping to watch a pod of spinner dolphins flipping through the air approximately 10 feet in front of them. A sea turtle poked his head out of the water and began to swim alongside family member Erica Wetzel.
"Hawaii has so much to offer," said Wetzel, "so many new things to try and experience. It's great to have this chance."
Stand-up paddling was new for Wetzel, and her experience was a good one.
"Some things you are never sure you can do until you try," she said.
"I'm really glad (Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) offered this opportunity," said family member Kyle Meisner. "It gives us a chance to learn new things."
"When my husband redeploys, I'll be taking him stand-up paddling," said Meisner.
For family member Jacqueline Lai, the art of stand-up paddling was harder than it looked.
"It's difficult, but a lot of fun," said Lai. "I'm glad I tried it and will definitely be coming out more."
Stand-up paddling is taking the world by storm and is practiced in Hawaii, overseas and all across the continental United States.
Enthusiasts are using rivers, lakes and oceans across the world for stand-up paddling, whether to ride the waves or enjoy a casual paddle session across a steady stream.
Stand-up paddling offers great exercise and an exhilarating experience on the water, according to Robinson.
"And it's fun," added Robinson.