Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is something old that’s new again. Originally invented in
Hawaii it’s come back in vogue for several reasons. It restarted a few years ago with some watermen who wanted to get out on the water when there were no waves for surfing. What they found was that you could get a real nice workout just by paddling around. Because you have to balance on your feet while paddling your body incorporates the core muscle groups to keep you from falling off. After paddling on flat water for half an hour or more you should feel your muscles working in your abs, upper legs, lower back, upper back, shoulders, and arms. For a surfer who wants to keep in shape when the waves aren’t working this kind of workout is key to maintaining or building fitness.
From there I’m sure that the surfers realized they could have some fun in non-epic conditions. The length of the board (approximately 11-12 feet), with the addition of the paddle giving you more propulsion, allows a surfer to ride smaller waves and catch them further out. In addition, you can use the paddle as a rudder to help you steer. They can also use the paddle to get to outside breaks easier.
It was soon after that when surfers tried to ride bigger waves. They found they could use the paddle to pick up more speed on large faces. Now they have their own competitions in surf contests.
This “new” sport is also helpful to older surfers who can’t pop-up on to their feet quickly, which is essential in catching most waves. Stand-up paddleboarding has allowed greater opportunities for people wanting to get on the water.
As an aside, stand-up paddleboarding has positively affected windsurfing as well. Windsurfers have a similar dilemma when the wind stops blowing. What to do? Go home or float on the water? Since most windsurfers appreciate the “green” powered initiative stand-up paddleboarding is a way to use their current equipment to get on the water and enjoy a workout.
Today’s windsurfers are currently making a small comeback with the longboard. Windsurfing started with giant boards you could float on and then the emphasis went to fast boards you could sink on. The new longboards allow you to cruise in non-planing conditions, not have to slog home when the wind dies, and allow you to paddle on the calm days.
Although the windsurfing boards are a little narrow and don’t surf a wave very well they are very well suited for flat water paddling. What they lose in stability width they kind of make up for in volume floatation.
Flat water paddling is much like kayaking but it’s a much better workout and because your vantage point is higher you may see things in the water easier. This version of the sport has allowed windsurfing manufacturers to produce hybrid boards which can be used for windsurfing and paddleboarding, thus allowing more opportunities for sailors to get on the water.
This summer we’ll be holding Monday Night SUP Races. Come out and watch or grab a board and give it a try. The competitions will be for fun. First timers are encouraged to compete.