Waging heavy peace on a paddleboard

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Waging heavy peace on a paddleboard

I’ve been reading Neil Young’s autobiography this summer and it came as a great surprise that Neil has been a mad keen stand up paddle boarder for a long time.

Neil Young… the writer of some of the most popular songs in the history of rock and roll including; Rust Never Sleeps, Harvest and Old Man loves nothing more then going for a paddle on the ocean.

He started stand up paddle boarding in front of his home in Hawaii ten years ago and has never looked back.

Paddle boarding is huge now, but I can remember a time when standing on your longboard was about as close to paddle boarding as you could get. Stand up paddle boarding has its roots in many ancient civilisations including Peru, Italy and China.

Closer to home, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been standing on their canoes and paddling around lakes and waterways for thousands of years. It’s a surprise that it died out for most of the 20th century although surfers like Duke Kahanamoku tried to keep the traditional of paddle boarding alive.

Modern stand up paddle boarding (SUP) was popularised in the early 2000’s by a group of Hawaiian and Californian surfers. I can still remember seeing footage of early stand up paddleboarding on the TV almost 20 years ago and thinking it looked so cool.

Soon the first SUP appeared on the beach at Torquay and a whole new surf craze was started with contests, world titles and a wide range of boards that practically any one could ride. Suddenly a whole generation of people who loved the ocean but weren’t ‘cut out’ for surfing on a shortboard or Malibu had the opportunity to catch a wave with other surfers.

In many ways it makes sense that Neil Young would take up stand up paddle boarding.

He has always had a strong interest in the environment. Many of his songs reflect his love and passion for the forests, rivers, mountains, ocean reefs and even the Moon.

He even wrote a song about surfing and paddle boarding… ‘Long May You Run’. Nah, actually that song is about one of his favourite old cars. But I’m sure he will write a song about stand up paddle boarding one day (although he did sing about the Beach Boys and surfing in Long May You Run).

69 years old and mad for the paddle board… you’re never too old to get the surfing bug!

Written by John Foss