Paddling your way to happiness

With monsoons finally dampening the city of Chennai, water sports in bound to take whole new dimension this season.

For those of you who are wondering what this southern Indian city (which is also the capital of Tamil Nadu) could offer its water lovers, ‘Paddle for future’ has the best solution for you.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

What is paddling?

It is a rowing technique used to manoueuvre a ‘paddle-board’. Unlike a kayak or a traditional boat carved from wood, paddle-boards depend on air.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

These boards can, hence, be transported easily and are perhaps relatively easy to maintain.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

How does a paddle-board make its way on water?

The boat has a rudder like any boat and is also depended on the skills of the rower. Interestingly, a person on a paddle boat can either kneel down, sit or stand while rowing. It is a game of balance, direction and patience.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

Does paddling make you healthier?

Having experienced it first-hand, I believe that it is the most fun ‘fat-burning’ exercise in the world. Some studies say that a person could burn about 735 calories per hour! It is similar to any workout. A paddler has to warm-up, practice a few drills, master the basics and then sign up for the ultimate challenge – the race.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

Could non-swimmers try it out?

An understanding of a few aspects of swimming, such as breathing under water and the freestyle stroke is an advantage but not a compulsion. You are bound to be given life-jackets irrespective of your ability to swim (if you do not have one, demand for a life-jacket). Moreover, the paddle is attached to your ankle using a flap of sorts (like those of a surfer). The instructors will also teach you how to jump of a board as well as to boost yourself on to the board.

Paddling at Chembarabakkam, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future
Paddling at Lake Matadee, Chennai. Photo: Paddle for Future

Things to remember?

  1. Carry a change of clothes. You are bound to become ‘close friends’ with the lake and the others rowing their boats.
  2. Be honest about any physical ailments. Only then, would the instructors be able to assist you efficiently.
  3. Carry a bottle of water and some food. You will experience a great deal of fatigue and hunger.
  4. Enjoy yourself. Don’t skip instructions or be in a hurry to master each skill. It is not worth it. Instead, cherish the time spent paddling.