The Emperor Strikes Back: A Sup Story by Jason Cole

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The Emperor Strikes Back:  A Sup Surfer’s Tale, by Jason Cole

Being seen as a force for evil, hell bent on taking over the galaxy made me chuckle a bit, but it also vexed and disappointed me. Some dumb kid (no doubt a rebel for the alliance) had, under his breath, called me Darth Vader as I paddled past him on my sup at my home break.

Jason Cole Surf Off story Paddle Barbados
Ever get looked at like you’re evil incarnate in the line up on your sup? Jason Cole turns this adventure into a great story.  Illustration by:  Jason Cole

Sup surfers:  Darth Vaders of the line up?

I initially laughed to myself remembering that as kid surfers we called my little brother Dark Helmet on account of his hairstyle. I felt that this punk kid’s sci-fi character reference was not intended to be endearing, but rather to be insulting, and I took it as such.

Slowly I turned around, paddled over and sat next to him on my board.

“We don’t even let you guys in the line up back home.” he chirped with a bit more conviction looking past me.

I have to say that I was impressed. He was either very brave or super stupid, and in the instant, I admired his courage.

For about ten minutes we exchanged unpleasantries. It’s hard work trading insults for an extended period and it sure does test your creativity and all things considered, I felt that I had gotten the better of the exchange.

Somewhere in the “fog of war” we had agreed to swap equipment and settle on a surf off. I had not surfed in many years and pulling his tiny board under me I started to second-guess my position. This feeling of uncertainty soon vanished as I turned on a beautiful little nugget and proceeded to throw tight arcs down the line.

Returning to the lineup, the sight of my nemesis flopping and floundering brought a smile to my face. As he called for the return of his board I spun around and caught another little wave for good measure.

I don’t know if there was a lesson learned there that day but there was one thing that I was sure of. Whatever you may think of Darth Vader he is definitely one bad ass mother.

— by Jason Cole

About the Author – Jason Cole

Jason Cole is co-owner of Paddle Barbados with his wife, Sarah in Carlisle Bay, Barbados.  He is also creator of the Ghost Leash, an innovative new invention that prevents leashes from dragging in the surf and getting snarled on rocks or seaweed.

Jason has published a variety of illustrated children’s books including Max and Me and Cricket is My Game published by Brightwater Press out of Christ Church, Barbados.

Together, Sarah and Jason Cole offer the island’s best stand up paddle lessons for surf and flatwater.  They offer expert tours to explore the pristine coastline that Barbados has on offer.  They also carry the largest variety of rental equipment including paddleboards, kayaks, snorkels, boogey boards and surfboards.  For more information about them or their upcoming RETREATS, contact Sarah at

About the author

Evelyn O'Doherty is a standup paddle racer, surfer and yoga teacher from the East End of Long Island in New York. Her passion for watersports drew her to leave a teaching career to pursue her athletic endeavors as a sup instructor, racing coach, sup racer, and now, as online editor for Standup Journal. Evelyn lives in East Hampton NY in the Springs area where she has daily access to the water to train and teach. When the swell is working, you can find her in Montauk rattling around in her Ford Ranger surfboards hanging out the back headed for points East.

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