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December 6, 2019

I was in Hawaii when paddle boarding had just been born, or more accurately reborn, but still hadn’t grown up enough to leave its parents, Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama.

WORDS Rob Small   PHOTO Dom Moore

Part of the morning ritual was a dawn trip to Ted’s Bakery to grab a Kona Coffee, resplendent with vanilla and a good amount of sugar. Then it would be down to the pipe between Sunset and Backyards to check the waves, brew in hand. What a great way to start the day, albeit pre-standup.

As stand up paddle matured and left its island home to explore the world I was lucky enough to tag along sometimes. Europe’s Atlantic Arc surf checks often had a common theme, caffeine being to the taste; café noir whilst waiting for the tide at Guethary, sneaky ‘ron carajillos’ before monster sessions in the Canarias, cups of instant from Al Mennie’s kitchen to ease us into frigid East Strand perfection. 

But not all the world is hooked the black stuff’s jolt to get up to paddle speed. In South America, more specifically in El Cono Sur, ‘yerba mate’ is all the rage. Related to holly, the infusion is the surf check standard for southern Latino sup aficionados. Imbibed through a metal tube from a gourd like container that never seems to leave some hands (unless they’re paddling of course) demands at least as much devotion as a cup of joe does elsewhere. Taste and preference, being, well being just that – individual to the, erm, individual, there’s plenty alternatives to the standard issue surf-check beverages. In fact one sup mate likes a sun up drop off Pocari Sweat prior to a sweltering Balinese surf. Named for what it supposedly replaces rather than its origin, its weird slightly salty, grapefruit taste doesn’t do it for me but, god, our boy livens right up after a wee drop. 

This is, of course, all a load waffle (which I believe can be an addition to your coffee in certain places). I’ll admit that while a whiff of a good roast blend can transport me back to former adventures, it’s just part of the package ain’t it? One of those little rituals that fit just right into what we do. So if you kombucha in Chiba, kale smoothie in Kaapstad or favour builder’s tea in Bournemouth I hope you have a banger right from the get go, as I said, what a great way to start the day. SUP International

PHOTO  ‘How’s the saarf!’ Paul Finny and Rob Small share a Java jolt.

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