About the Coach
…if you think it looks too hard, think again!
Hi, my name is Melissa and I have had the privilege of living in the gorgeous Shoalhaven region since I was a small child. This is the story of my introduction to the fabulous sport of Stand Up Paddling.
I spent most of my life on the beaches of the south coast traveling up and down the coast with the guys, and later my husband Jason, in search of the best waves of the day. Just like in the movie ‘Puberty Blues’, in my day ‘chicks didn’t surf!’ We laid on the beach and went in for the occasional dip, but I can tell you, I didn’t like going in when there were waves (most of the time if the lads were out surfing) and I definitely didn’t go in if there was seaweed or the water wasn’t ‘crystal clear’. I was terrified of all the critters that lived in the water.
So what has happened to change all that?
My husband, Jason, who has been surfing for 30 years, heard about this new Stand Up Paddling sport. He did loads of web-surfing and before you know it, he was paddling around the creek on an old windsurfer board and a home made paddle. He was doing it nearly every day and seemed to be having so much fun: I just had to give it a try!
By the time I had my first go, he had bought himself a proper Stand Up Paddle board so I had the right equipment to learn on. Currambene creek is full of wildlife and I remember screaming and nearly falling off the first time I saw a stingray. It was about 1.5m across and went directly under my board! I cannot believe that now it is not uncommon for me to see five or six stingrays on my daily paddle and they don’t bother me a bit. They are just so graceful and harmless; often gliding up to look at me!
Once I had been shown the basics of Stand Up Paddling I was sneaking out on husband’s board several times a week (while he was at work!!). At first I could only make it half way up to Huskisson but within about a month I had built up fitness and could make it up to Husky Spit and back. It was at this point that husband talked me into going out the river mouth and into the little one foot waves. Once I caught my first little wave I was totally hooked: Within two weeks of my first wave I had bought my own board and was paddling nearly every day. Winter set in so I bought a wetsuit. The weather got even colder so I bought booties: Nothing was going to keep me out of the water!
Winter was a great time for me to learn as there were plenty of southerly swells getting into Jervis Bay and there were less people around to see me flopping around in the water like a baby seal! I fell off so much, but I didn’t care! By Spring I could catch waves up to two foot and make a fairly smooth bottom turn (only to the right at this stage though!). Husband decided it was time too take me to a beach break and I had my first ride on unknown waves venturing north to Currarong and south to Bendalong.
In November 2008 I competed in my first Stand Up Paddling competition at the Mambo Classic in Merimbula. I was the only female entrant amongst 60 odd blokes. At this stage I could still only surf right-handers but on day three of the competition the Merimbula river mouth started working and with the support of all the other entrants, I mastered the two foot left-hander that went for miles! Boy was I stoked! I came home with a lovely Mambo Jacket as a prize.
Since then I competed in more competitions, both racing and surfing, initially mostly against the guys but now that the sport has grown there are women’s divisions at most events.
Stand Up Paddling now consumes my life: I don’t feel human unless I have done at least a one hour flat water paddle every day. I have now reached the point where I will put the board on the roof of the car and travel on my own in search of a wave! Not bad for a chick that never went in past her knees! And now for the good news. Since taking up this sport I have dropped two dress sizes without giving up wine or chocolate!
I have had so much fun Stand Up Paddling that I wanted to share the ‘buzz’ – starting up Jervis Bay Stand Up Paddle seemed the logical step. I completed the Level One Stand Up Paddle Instructors Course with the Academy of Surfing Instructors, obtained my Bronze Medallion Surf Rescue qualification and undertook a Senior First Aid course, and now, after obtaining all the necessary permits and accreditation I am pleased to be able to offer clients an experience I am sure they are going to love!
Since writing this story I have continued to participate in loads of events, making heaps of friends and having an absolute blast, and as you will note, most events have “Women’s Divisions” now! I have also upgraded my instructor qualifications to level three.
Here are some of the highlights:
- 2016 Merimbula Classic – 2nd Open Women’s SUP surfing
- Noosa Festival of Surfing – 6th Open Women’s surfing, 2nd Women’s 5km technical race (o/40)
- Every Man and His Dog Watsons Bay, Mel & Teddy, Winners of the Women’s Doggy Dash, Distance racing Womens 2nd 6km, 2nd 2km,
- 2015 Merimbula Classic – First Open Women’s SUP surfing
- Surfing Australia NSW State Titles – 2nd Open Women’s 6km technical race, 4th Open Women’s surfing
- NSW State sprint racing – 2nd Women’s o’40s 200m, 3rd Women’s o’40s 1000m, 2nd Women’s o’40s 5000m.
- Every Man and His Dog Watsons Bay, Mel & Teddy, Winners of the open Doggy Dash (men and women together), Distance racing Womens 1st 6km, 1st 2km, 4th Dash for Cash (men and women together)
- Nisco Sprints Canberra, Open Womens 1st 200m, 1st 400m, 1st 1000m
- 2014 Merimbula Classic – First Open Women’s SUP surfing
- 2014 Dominelli All Girls Surf Comp Cronulla – First Open Women’s SUP surfing
- 2014 Paddle NSW North West Arm Sydney – 8km Open Women’s 1st (and 3rd across the line in – ie open mens)
- 2014 NSW State Titles – 2nd Open Women’s 12km marathon, 3rd Open Women’s Technical race
- 2014 AuSUP Sprint Titles Adelaide – Over 40’s Women’s 200m 2nd, 500m 2nd, 5km 2nd
- 2014 Nisco Sprints Canberra – Open women’s 1st 100m, 1st 200m, 1st 2km
- 2013 Merimbula Classic – 2nd Women’s SUP surfing
- 2013 Dominelli All Girls Surf Comp Cronulla – First Open Women’s SUP surfing
- 2013 Burrill Lake Charity Race – No women’s this year, so competed with the blokes. First Open SUP 10km race, 2nd Open SUP technical race, 3rd Open SUP 6km race
- 2013 Surfing NSW State Titles – 4th Women’s SUP Surfing
- 2013 Seven Miles of Smiles Surf Classic – 2nd Open Men’s SUP surfing (yes, you read it right! no women’s division, came 2nd in men’s)
- 2013 Noosa Festival of Surf – 5th Open Women’s SUP surfing
- 2013 SUP Australia State Titles – 1st Women’s 6km 12’6″ (4th open men’s), 3rd Women’s 1.5km 14′ sprint, 1st Women’s 1.5km 12’6″ sprint (and 5th open men’s)
- 2013 Coreban River Race Woronora – 1st Women’s 14′ race (and 4th across line open men’s division), 1st Women’s 12’6 race (and 6th across the line in the open men’s division)
- 2012 Dominelli All Girls Surf Comp Cronulla – 4th Open Women’s SUP surfing
- 2012 SUP Australia State Titles – 1st Women’s 6km 12’6″ (5th open mens), 3rd Women’s 1.5km 14′ sprint, 1st Women’s 1.5km 12’6″ sprint
- 2012 Naish River Race – 1st Womens 2.5km 12’6″ sprint (3rd open mens), 1st Women’s 2.5km 14′ sprint (6th open mens)
- 2012 SUP Australia National Titles – 1st Senior Women’s surfing, 1st open and senior women’s 6km 12’6″ race, 1st open and senior 1.5km 12’6″ sprint, 1st open and senior women’s 1.5km 14′ sprint
- 2012 Burrill Lake Charity Race – 1st Women’s 100m sprint, 1st Women’s 6km race (and 5th across the line open div)
- 2012 Merimbula Classic – 3rd Women’s SUP surfing
- Stride 4 Stroke Burrill Lake 2011 – 3rd in open 6km race (men & women) & 1st Woman
- Noosa Festival of Surf 2011 – 7th Womens SUP surfing
- Malfunction Comp Kingscliff 2011 – 5th Womens SUP surfing, 1st womens 5km amateur 12’6 (and 3rd across the line open am 12’6)
- Coreban River Race Woronora 2011 – 1st Womens 14′ race (and 4th across line open mens division), 1st Womens 12’6 race (and 6th across the line open mens division)
- Balmoral Blast March 2011 – 2nd in open 4km race (men & women)
- Surfing Australia NSW state titles 2011 – 4th Women’s SUP surfing
- Australian Titles 2011 – 8th Women’s SUP surfing
- SUP Australia NSW titles Oct 2011 – 4th Women’s SUP surfing
2010 and 2009
- Noosa Festival of Surf 2010 – 4th womens 3km ocean race
- Malfunction Comp Kingscliff 2010 – 2nd womens 12’6″ div, 5km race (behind sponsored international racer)
- Roar Comp Currumbin (Qld State Titles) 2010 – 3rd womens SUP surfing
- NSW State Titles 2010 – 4th womens SUP surfing
- Australian Titles 2010 – 7th womens SUP surfing
- Merimbula Classic 2010 – 4th Womens SUP surfing & 2nd Teams relay (20 teams entered!) and Jason won the Mens Grand Masters SUP surfing Division
- Merimbula Classic 2009 – 2nd ladies SUP surfing, 2nd & 3rd in teams relay races