How A Broken Paddle Changed My life. The Story of a Handboarder's journey

by steven watts August 17, 2015

It was 1994 and I was a wide-eyed, 22 year old Bodyboarder on a 3 month backpacking trip traveling through India.  An experience that forever changed my life.

We had slowly made our way down to the small fishing town of Anjuna (Goa) about 250 miles south of Mumbai and a grueling 11-hour trip. However, it is all worth it when you get there.  Anjuna is a palm-fringed paradise, a melting pot of colors, counter-culture and relaxation.

India: A kaleidoscopic explosion of tastes sounds and smells

We decided to do some exploring and rented scooters to make our way down to Harambol beach which lies in the North District. It’s a harrowing experience on a scooter dodging cows and people with apparently very little regard for personal safety.

Bodysurfing the Indian Coast: Uncrowded warm water and picturesque

We finally got there in one piece and to my amazement there were waves; an epic little shorebreak with not a soul in site.  Although Sri Lanka has some epic surf to the south and it lies in the Indian Ocean, India is not known for its surfing destination, so I was stoked to say the least.  I could finally get some unexpected wave time. That's when I realized I didn’t have a bodyboard or anything for that matter to ride.

What's water man to do? Head out for a bodysurf!

I wasn't going to let good fortune of an empty break deter me,  and I spent the rest of the day having a blast getting waves all to myself in paradise.

A handboard built from an old paddle

That evening on my way back to Anjuna still stoked and salty from that days wave adventures I ran into two fishermen.  I knew I wanted to craft some sort of wave riding tool for my next wave adventure so I asked them about a piece of wood they had lying around. It happened to be a piece off a broken paddle. They were a little bemused as to why I wanted a broken paddle but they where more than stoked to hand it over.  I found a chunk of old rubber inner tube to use as the handle. I couldn't wait to try it out the next morning.  That day with my new toy was so much fun, I was hooked!

I spent the next 20 years surfing with that old broken paddle. I was gifted on the beach that day.  For many years,  I have been the only bodysurfer out amongst surfers and bodyboarders at my local spot here on the French Riviera.

Today I see the community and sport growing and spreading worldwide.  I am so stoked to be a part of it and to share my story of how a simple wave tool changed my life. My next surf trip I will be putting the old girl up on the mantle to spend the rest of her days relaxing and using my Slyde Handboard.  It is so much lighter than my old paddle I cannot wait to get out on it. It's going to be my next revolution.  

Sebastian currently resides in Nice on the french Riviera where he continues to bodysurf and love life

follow your personnal legend

The evolution 

The colorful wears of an amazing place: Bangles in a market in Anjuna. India ,Sri Lanka and Indonesia are a must on any travel surfers bucket list 

steven watts
steven watts

Growing up in South Africa, Steve spent his youth dreaming of far off places. After spending eight years extensively traveling to many of the great surf destinations of the world getting dengue fever, having a near death experience from a falling coconut in mexico, Surviving a 15 foot drop on a handboard on a Nias bomb, jumping from every rock he could find without adequate health insurance. and comprehensively debunking the myth there are no waves in Thailand, even if they are small. He decided it was time for a a degree. Steve Graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London with a degree in product design. He missed his graduation to go surfing in Californian, found a kindred spirit with Venice and never left

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