A DOWNWINDER AND A DUNKING – METAPHORS FOR THE LIFE OF A SUP PRO
BY GLENN DUBOCK
Nikki Gregg has settled in quite nicely to her new found home on the Central Coast of California. She has connected with Ken and Sandi Twist, owners of The Paddleboard Co. in Morro Bay, folks she describes as two of the coolest people she has ever met. That is saying a lot coming from a globe trotter like Nikki who has been such an ambassador for our sport for so long.
FRIENDS IN MORRO BAY
My chance to meet Sandi and Ken and get the nickel tour of their prime retail location is quickly followed by the chance to record all 3 of them in a downwind paddle from the dock that is steps away from their shop. Typical of Morro Harbor in the afternoon, a north wind is competing with an opposing out-going tidal flow- a tricky situation that Nikki knows all so well because she has called Hood River Oregon her home in the past.
INTO THE WIND
Opposing forces- many things pulling her in different directions, rough waters, serious setbacks – these are all challenges on and off the liquid landscape that have confronted Gregg in the past few years.
People tend to think that the life of a traveling sup guru/pro is all easy strokes down current. Nikki is not one to complain but she makes no secret of the fact that she has learned some hard lessons on the inequalities of being a woman on the business end of trying to make this lifestyle yield a reasonable paycheck. I feel comfortable asking Nikki some deep questions – her honesty is as refreshing and it is revealing.
All these questions are pouring through my head as I race down the narrow bay road to meet up with them at the pre-arranged haul out point called Windy Cove. The first thing I notice as they round the bend for the home stretch is that all three of them have huge smiles on their faces – the look that sharing such special moments in such a unique place makes those facial muscles deny any argument from the rest of your tired body.
WINDY COVE AND A GOOD DUNKING
My camera and I can’t get enough of this place – I beg them for a photo session up at the mouth of the Morro Bay Harbor entrance in the fading light of the day. There is not a hint of resistance from anyone.
The wind has reached gale proportions and the shadow of the famous Morro Bay Rock is looming large as they launch from the spit of sand beneath the iconic power plant towers. After negotiating the wicked mid-channel turbulence, Nikki decides to step off her board and explore the sand spit only to be confronted by her board rolling like a tumbleweed from the wind before she can wrestle it back onto the water. Soon after, she gets tipped by the wind and gets a brutal cold water dunking-including her cell phone.
FINDING HER WAY
I have my phone out, ready to call the Coast Guard rescue line but I can see through my telephoto that smile and a calm, persistent stroke is still there, even if Gregg is soaked and shivering.
Nikki is a survivor – she has been dunked and clawed her way back up to the surface. She currently has no sponsors, no contracts – and I get the feeling, for now, she is enjoying the freedom that brings. We will talk about that and go for an exploration paddle of this amazing area tomorrow.
Next up – The Back Bay and Q & A
— by Glenn Dubock