There’s a certain sense of mystical wonder that comes from scanning a view across a fog-laced body of water when the wind is dead calm – ocean, lake or bay. Walking to low-tide flats of Tampa Bay with a sweet YOLO board the weather was the opposite of fog. The same sort of mystical was not lost on me or with my paddling partner, Christian Cook.
High noon and glassy calm is not the norm for Tampa Bay. Maybe late season hurricane Rina way south had scooped up all the wind. In any event it was a very cool combination of wind and weather to drop in on.
I connected with Christian of NRG Salt Standup Paddle Fitness (web link coming) through Brody Welte with YOLO boards. There are plenty of SUP business owners who are passionate about the sport, but many don’t connect the fitness benefits of SUP with the pure water/waterman spirit. Christian Cook certainly does! The following images are just a small example of naturally adding strength, core and flexibility to our easy paddle today.
Let’s back up a bit and follow the path that lead Christian to the soon-to-be-launched NRG Salt. Always fit and full of energy and purpose, Christian started surfing about 6 years ago. It wasn’t long afterward that he added a paddle to his wave riding. Sneaking into the peripheral of his awareness from that surfing base was THE CHALLENGE – the Molokai 2 Oahu race. Is that a difficult race to finish – heck yeah! It’s a difficult race to START! As Christian explains, that’s exactly why he chose to do it – twice.
Hopping on his SIC F14 (Mark Rappaport design) race board Christina enjoyed the first 28 or so miles of the 2008 Molokai2Oahu race. It was about 7 hours of 20-30 ft rolling swells that sent the board zooming with crazy speed. The 7-9 ft sides and 40 mph gusts just added to the fun. That was – until along came China Walls – the rocky coastline at the edge of the Portlock neighborhood of Oahu.
That was the location of the last 3+ miles of the race when “pure honesty” determines who finishes. Every paddle stroke counts in those final miles and each one is more difficult than the one before. Christina shared his “way to finish the race” mantra. Be sure to have someone you love and care about at the finish. Looking ahead at Oahu during those last miles he knew his wife and sons were waiting to photograph the finish. The picture I saw tells the story: a big smile through exhaustion.
Christian explains, “I want to be an example for my sons that you can have a dream. You can look at a star that seems impossible to reach – and you can do what it takes to reach it.” It’s a lot like life, one paddle stroke at a time.
If you travel to the west coast of Florida, to the Tampa/St Petersburg area, and want to jump into a paddle fit class, go for a training paddle on the Gulf or simply rent a board to explore on your own, your connection begins with Christian Cook and his new venture, NRG Salt Stand Up Paddle Fitness.
I met Christian while SUP surfing in Cocoa Beach last summer. He saw that I was having trouble with my technique catching waves. He took the time out of his session to coach, me and sure enough I started catching wave after wave. I later met his family and all I can say is that he embodies all of the qualities of a dedicated waterman in and out of the water. I am confidant that Christian Cook is an asset to the SUP community and a fine example of a committed husband and father. I look forward to the day I can spend some time with Christian Cook again.