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SUP with Whales in Santa Monica

Sam George, a dedicated SUP rider, has recently experienced a unique adventure. While he was paddling in the waters of Santa Monica Bay in California he spotted a Gray Whale. He was not frightened by the whale and got as close as possible to it. It must have been a thrilling feeling to ride beside such a great sea creature, but also an exhausting drive. Whale encounters are not entirely strange to SUP riders, but Sam has a unique way of telling the story. Check it out:

"Now a whale sighting is always a neat thing, the personification of extra-terrestrial intelligence stimulating to even the shallowest imagination. But on this particular day I responded to something a bit less existential: like a Chumash Indian brave, whose tribe once populated this very same coastline, I ran to get my board and paddle, determined to stroke out and draw abreast of the leviathan, pitting my frail craft and puny arms against the sea’s mightiest heart.

Right. I probably just wanted to mess with the poor thing. So out I paddled in full Battle of the Paddle mode, head down, shoulders stacked, high cadence (with no warm-up) looking up every now and then for the spout, digging deep. You know what? Whales, even smaller species like the gray, move deceptively fast.

Now I was paddling as hard as I could, heart rate spiking, my breath rasping, working to close the gap with the gray as it headed out around the kelp in a more north-westerly course. Was I getting closer? With each hurried glance I could see more of its bulk and at one point could have sworn I felt a wisp of its spout on my cheek; we had both turned into what little wind was blowing. I was going full-out. The last time I sustained this pace I was trying to beat Gerry Lopez and win a bet in the Hawaii BOP. Then suddenly it occurred to me that here I was participating in the most primal paddle race, the original battle of the paddle, a man alone on the sea chasing a whale."