Marlene is one SUP obsessed ‘wahine’ (Hawaiian for ‘woman’). Paddling for two months only, she never misses a ‘Wahine Wednesday’ or a Saturday session at the Durban Point Waterfront Canal and not only that, she books a board for both the 8-9am and 9-10am time slots. I met with her this week to have a chat about why she loves stand up paddle boarding?

You don’t have a water/ocean sports background. You’re a land locked bicycle ‘spinner’. How did you find yourself interested in SUP?

I was introduced to SUP by Kerry Dell at Northland’s Primary (another wahine who SUPs with us), and just totally fell in love with it. I love spinning, but the outdoors and being completely independent (as in captain of my own boat) is a different experience.

So eager beaver, you’re the most energised, turbo charged ‘wahine’ we have ever met. You even come to the canal sessions when it rains with your beanie when most Durbanites go into hiding. What is it about SUP that has hooked you?

The freedom I think, along with the independence and it’s just you, your board, and water; I decide where to go, how to get there. Lol…the fact that I go in all weather conditions, is just ME being ME…lol….I push myself, and once I am hooked…there’s no turning back.

Your first ocean SUP. Gut wrenching fear. You grabbed hold of it and took it by the horns. And…what happened next?

Hahahahh. Gut wrenching fear – is totally an understatement…lol. I was super scared, but absolutely loved facing my fear.  You are an inspiration Charlotte, as I felt safe and calm on the water.  I am doing double session again tomorrow at the canal, as I need to focus on my technique and get stronger to face the ocean again.

What would you like to achieve on a SUP in the next year?

I would love to participate in races, as I am a Volunteer for CANSA and very involved with charity work, I would love to race in aid of CANSA to create awareness and raise funds.

Your nine year old daughter in your own words isn’t ‘sporty’ but somehow you got her to the canal on a rather fresh Durban morning and she started paddling and now she’s with you every weekend. We absolutely love having her there. What does Nakita love about SUP?

Nakita says that you can feel so free and do what you want in the time that you can.

And now your Dad is in too. Your husband, chief photographer, when is he joining the SUP family session?

Hahahha….I think Johan is more comfortable on the side to take photos, but we will get him to join.  I was so proud of my dad facing his first session in that hectic wind….and he STAYED ON THE BOARD.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with anyone out there who doesn’t feel they’re fit/strong/balanced enough to SUP?

I have been ill for the last year, diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia and Sleep Apnea. I honestly never thought that I would be able to do SUP, as I felt very weak and tired.  But since the first session, I feel great!! Almost like my body is pumped with oxygen every time I am out there.  If you doubt yourself, come give it a try – I did – and it’s honestly LIFE CHANGING!!

Less than a week after this interview, Marlene’s husband got on a paddleboard at our Saturday SUP session and did really well, despite feeling like his arms might fall off!