An Optimistic Beginner on His Brand-New Maddle Paddleboard

Just two or three years ago, I watched this new sport expanding, wondering, “What enjoyment can one find in it?” And now, here I am, getting ready for my first outing. Optimistic, both in terms of my mindset and what will soon be beneath my feet: “the Optimist” paddleboard by Maddle.

Perfect for beginners and intermediates,” is how the company’s website brands the Optimist. The first part of the sentence describes me well. I hope to say the same about the second part soon.

My friends converted to paddleboarding some time ago. They go on adventurous trips. But it doesn’t seem easy at first glance so, for my first experience, I chose a very calm and small lake to learn and grasp the basics.

My friend, who will be my coach for the day, arrives with his large board mounted on the roof of his car. It’s big. Very big! It must take up so much space in his apartment. On my side, the inflatable paddleboard fits into a transport backpack specifically designed for the board. I take it out of the trunk, unroll it on the ground, and connect the pump to the 12V outlet in my vehicle. Wonderful! I could have used the manual pump that came with it, but why exert myself BEFORE engaging in physical activity? I set the desired pressure, and 10 minutes later, the pump stops automatically, and I carry my Optimist to the lake. The distance isn’t very far, but the carrying handle, ergonomics, and weight would have allowed me to cover a good distance without any problems.

image of Maddle Optimist paddleboard being inflated

My friend shows me how to kneel, how to stand up, and how to maintain my balance. Honestly, I expected to fall three or four times before stabilizing myself standing up for the first time. But no. One knee here, one knee there, I lift one to place my foot on the board. I do the same on the other side, I stabilize myself, unfold my body, and… Oh my God, I’m standing on water!

My friend shows me how to paddle, and off we go! “What if I fall? How do I get back on the board?” I ask my private coach/friend. “Don’t worry! As soon as you fall, I’ll show you. It’s bound to happen.” Reassuring…

Maddle Optimist paddleboard

After 90 minutes, it’s time to return to the shore. But there’s one crucial lesson missing. “Hey! I didn’t fall! You need to show me how to get back on the board when I don’t touch the bottom of the lake!” So there it is. The Optimist board, perfectly suited for the beginner that I was (and still am), allowed me to have a relatively long first session without falling. I had to jump in the water to practice getting back on the board.

We return to the shore, and a few seconds after starting to deflate the Optimist, it’s ready to be folded and stored in the transport backpack.

It was a first. Definitely not a last.

image of writer standing triumphantly on a Maddle Optimist paddleboard in water

Based in Quebec and photographer for more than 15 years, I specialize in press photography (photojournalism) and corporate and event photography.

A 2006 graduate of the prestigious photojournalism program at Loyalist College in Belleville (Ontario, Canada), I first distinguished myself by being the first runner up student of the Association of Press Photographers of Eastern Canada (Eastern Canadian News photographers Association) for the quality of my portfolio.

Back in Quebec City after an internship at the Ottawa Citizen and the Edmonton Sun, and a contract at the Windsor Star, I quickly developed a large clientele including some of the most prestigious Canadian newspapers.

In 2018, I published two books: The hidden face of photography and En photo et en Affaires