Morene Dekker And Stand Up Paddle
by Morene Dekker
I am Morene Dekker (38) and a working mom. I used to wake-board a lot but my boyfriend got a very bad injury from wake-boarding and after that we decided to sell the Ski Nautique (I was pregnant at that time too) and I started to learn surfing (wave-surfing) as we do live in Amsterdam, which is a 45 minute drive from the sea. I couldn’t go surfing that much and once my son was born it got even more difficult to go surfing. During my work as a free lance journalist, I interviewed Anne Marie Reichman, a major force behind the SUP 11 city tour, about her idea to stand up paddle for the 11 city tour in 2008 and that was when she introduced me to the sport.
I remember how really enthusiastic I was about that. I thought to myself, “finally, a sport that is not so hard to learn, good for the body, and the mind.” This was also ideal which I can do near my house as I live right at the canals and with the big IJ lake just a 3 minute paddle from my house. This sport was easy to combine with my work and my child! I love to go out paddling for a couple of hours by myself. Although I enjoy flat water and sunshine I find myself often challenging myself in hard winds. Stand Up Paddling never gets boring because there are always those elements of wind, rain, waves, that would play a role in determining which route to take. For me it is a perfect way to relax and enjoy nature. Last year, I trained for the SUP 11- city tour which is an event that takes place in 5 stages in 5 days. It is a journey, an ultimate challenge through 11 authentic villages of Friesland (in the northern province of the Netherlands). It was a great experience participating in that event enjoying the outdoors while paddling, and going through these villages seeing and enjoying the scenery from a different point of view. It was a chance to meet great people along the journey while being in the water with many other great paddlers. This experience motivated me even more to bring the sport to others so I decided to start giving lessons and also sell boards. So I then created M&M Stand Up Paddle and as I started this past April 2011 teaching lessons, it has drawn many participant’s interest to the sport. The response has been great and so many are enthusiastic that I felt I have made a difference in helping individuals making that connection with it. I thought to myself, “What else can I wish for?”, as it is a good way for people to get comfortable in and around the water, enjoying nature while working out. I found that Stand Up Paddle is a very nice way to get people to connect with their body again, do a physical activity while enjoying nature and having fun. To me it has been a great satisfaction to see participants enjoying themselves and having a great time paddling.
I do recommend everybody who want to start Stand Up Paddling to take one or two lessons before they start touring on their own. It’s not a difficult sport but the technique is very important to master to ensure you don’t get any injures or end up using the wrong muscles. Sometimes I find people taking our lessons who had already tried stand up paddle themselves, struggling a bit when learning the correct techniques to paddle because they have been paddling for a long while using the wrong techniques or a less efficient way to paddle. Nevertheless, with a right class and a good instructor you will learn the best way to paddle and the right techniques to better perform. You can start off with a half an hour or an hour sessions to begin with and remember to be patience. Stand Up Paddling is an endurance sport and you will use all of your muscles. You have to give yourself some time to adapt, as if you are not used it and end up overdoing it, it can only cause harm such as back pains, pain in the calfs, etc. It is also important to get to know your own gear and cut your paddle the right size, too short or too long can cause pains, and/or not be efficient in your paddling. You are going to find many kinds of boards in the market. I would recommend taking a few lessons before you buy your own board to get familiarized with the equipment and learn the basics. Stand Up Paddle Boards can costs anywhere between €$700 and €$1,200 and that could be a lot of money for some. Once you are ready, then getting your own board would be ideal to have in order to go paddling whenever you feel like it and for you to feel that enormous feeling of freedom. Remember, the board you plan to buy has to fit you according to your body length and your own weight.
I teach people the basics of Stand Up Paddle, and the proper techniques for you to execute and be efficient. Next year we are planning to also be hiring a yoga teacher to incorporate yoga with Stand Up Paddle. We only take people who has successfully completed a swimming diploma, which you typically get in the Netherlands. During my lessons I require everybody to wear a leash, this way you can always be attached by your ankle to your board. The board itself is your safety as you can always hang onto it for floatation. I personally do not use life vests, and leave that optional for the participants. My normal lesson take approximately an hour and usually takes place in the smaller canals with shore and houses on both sides. These canals are a maximum of 9 meters wide so participants can never float or drift away making the learning experience more enjoyable and safer, than being in open water. I take the students on open water such as the ocean or lakes, only when the wind is not too hard so they can manage their learning experience better when outside of the canals, because their safety it’s very important! When I go out paddling myself I always wear a leash and have my mobile phone with me in a little dry bag so I can call someone if anything goes wrong. But the leash gives me a much safer feeling when training on the water with strong winds and waves. For more information on our classes you can visit M&M Stand Up Paddle.