There’s crowd-sourcing, out-sourcing and bob-sourcing; now there’s paddle-sourcing. It may not be an actual Webster defined term, but who cares, I just made it up. By my own definition, it’s the act of using online SUP resources to figure out how-to and where-to paddle when leaving our home turf (or should I say surf.) It’s what I did to covertly work paddling into a “normal” person vacation to Puerto Rico. Before I even booked flights and hotels, I paddle-sourced by turning to the Distressed Mullet website, the 100/100 facebook group, and elite and pro athletes I know (ha-ha.) Worked like a charm. I got my paddle fix in, at a beautiful location, by a great shop, all with personal recommendations from my new paddle-sourced friends.
How Exactly Did I Paddle-Source?
First and foremost, I turned to the Distressed Mullet website for leads. Conveniently there had just been a prone paddling article by Josue Delucca, who lives in Puerto Rico. I sent Josue a facebook message saying I’d seen his article and asked my where-to paddle questions. He recommended VerdeAzul and Aquatica Dive and Surf as they were in the area we were going to be staying. I looked both up online and sent messages, both responded quickly with all the info I needed. Josue also said to give him a call if I had time to prone paddle. If that’s not Puerto Rican hospitality, I don’t know what is!
Next, I searched the mullet website for advertisers, articles, clinics, races, anything to do with Puerto Rico. I found a link to elite paddler, Chase Kosterlitz, of the Water Monkey Shop in Florida. Chase’s link was older, on a past multi-day clinic in Puerto Rico, but it was contact. Again, a facebook message was sent and Chase responded with info on where to paddle, stay and eat; including a great brunch place called The English Rose, way up on the hillside in Rincon with sweeping views of the water below. How cool is it when an elite paddler takes time out of his day for an average Jane paddler like me! That seems to be how paddlers are.
I also searched any site that I knew that was a good resource for paddlers, I looked. Not big glossy online magazines, but the websites that are geared and even run by “human” paddlers.
Then I turned to our 100/100 facebook challenge group, (now over 220 members.) I posted some questions and got great feedback from Corey Taylor, who’s raced the Paddle Royale, the Rincon Beachboy, and the recent Who’SUP Fest events in Puerto Rico. I also got input from Kim Reilly, elite paddler, NE ambassador for SIC and Director of Sales for Nayad Aqua Apparel; not to mention from my Puerto Rican 100/100 friend, Carlos Tirado, who gave me places to eat and people to say “hey” to.
All combined, this paddle-sourcing methodology worked like a charm. Before I even had our trip drafted, I knew I’d get my water fix. Did I enjoy Puerto Rico and did I really get to paddle? Do birds fly? It was a.w.e.s.o.m.e.!
Getting to Paddle
In order to paddle, we had to drive. Driving in Puerto Rico is a fine art, terror movie, and wild salsa dance all in one. Pare (stop) signs are only suggestions that are mostly disregarded, lane lines just aren’t heeded, and using turn signals just tells everyone you’re from “off.” It was an exciting “I think we’re lost” adventure just getting to the VerdeAzul shop in Aguadilla without gps. Luckily, I was familiar with the colorful sign of VerdeAzul so recognized it as we drove past. This is the part of traveling, where you have to chill, do what locals do and you’ll get there when you get there, it was all good, island time.
We had arranged ahead of time not to rent boards because we had a teeny and rickety rental car, asking instead for an ocean tour. We’d also explained we were experienced paddlers….to a point. We were put under the care of Adrian Rodriguez, the winner of the recent Who’SUP Fest. Everything was ready and loaded when we arrived. Adrian drove us with standard NSP boards to a local’s beach (which we would have never found) with no surf break. While driving, we talked boards, gear, races, elite athletes, and drafting skills; I was in paddle talk heaven! Adrian is a Starboard fan but still graciously high-fived me on my Bark Contender choice. He talked about his one BOP race where Joe Bark generously lent him a fresh off the shaping rack board. We both talked about what a huge amount of pay it forward paddlers like Danny Ching put into this sport and that the kids learning to paddle today are going to be the awesome ones of tomorrow.
Once in the water, Adrian took us to a reef spot where we could snorkel a bit and practice pivot turns. The water, the reef and the cliffs were pretty. Adrian introduced us to the many who congratulated him on his day-before 10 mile downwind race win. It was a tough decision when we had to get back on land. The shop and Adrian had planned well; providing water and snacks. I would have preferred to go farther and stay out longer and although never rushed, we had prior commitments. Once back on land, we rinsed off and had a look around at what appeared to be a very well-stocked shop.
I can honestly say that this trip was so much better having contacts and people to talk to that we “knew” by name because of paddle-sourcing. I would definitely go back to Puerto Rico and visit VerdeAzul. I would recommend others contact them if visiting Aguadilla. There are other great shops in Ponce, Rincon and Aguadilla; we just had terrific service with a whole lot of fun thrown in. We were treated like family, paddling family.
So if you’re planning a friends or family vacation and want a water fix, do it, paddle-source.