A drizzle dampened about 70 people as they paddled their boards through the Shelter Cove Marina at midday Saturday and formed a clump to wait for stragglers.
When the rain came down harder, a dozen people threw up their arms and cheered. If some were worried about the weather -- or falling off their boards -- it didn't last. Standup paddleboard yoga instructor Amber Shadwick has a way of helping people get centered.
For about an hour Saturday, the group moved in tandem as one of the largest gatherings of standup paddleboard yoga in the world. The event -- coordinated by Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa sales and marketing director Gail Wargo -- was officiated by a world-record tracking company Record Setter, though larger attempts have been made at Lake Tahoe and Redondo Beach, Calif.
Wargo said the paddleboarding classes held by event co-sponsor Outside Hilton Head have been growing in popularity with guests and the companies wanted to organize a potential record to generate excitement.
"And especially on calm waters like this, it's very peaceful, very renewing and rejuvenating," she said.
For one participant, James Thairu of Nairobi, Kenya, the Shelter Cove Marina still seemed an intimidating locale for a yoga class. The event was part of his fifth of seven stops on a nation-wide yoga tour, though Thairu said he had never seen anything like this take on the sport, nicknamed SUP yoga.
"This is a once in a lifetime experience," he said after limbering up with a back flip. "I'm nervous, but I'm willing to come apart today."
"He'll come apart from the board into the water," his friend, Basilio Mwangi, said with a laugh.
However, balancing is relatively easy, said Andy Kennedy, CEO of Hilton Head Island company Multisport Fitness. Beginners usually feel comfortable within 15 minutes, he said.
In the water, the group sat on their boards and stretched their arms from side to side and down to their toes. As the lesson advanced, they knelt and stretched one arm to the marsh ahead and one leg to the rocks behind them. With a twist, they extended their arm to the sky.
Among them was Nancy Bachelder of Hilton Head Island, who also paid for a friend's morning introductory lesson and entrance to the afternoon class as a birthday present. Paddleboarding was a first for both women Saturday.
"We're both in our 60s," Bachelder added. "And we just said, 'What the heck, let's do it.'"
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.
- ONE Yoga opens, continues tradition of Yoga Chandra on Lady's Island, January 24, 2014: http://bit.ly/1h7QiRB