Its been 2 years since I first spotted someone standing on a long thick surfboard on the intercostal of South Florida, leisurely paddling away without a care in the world.
Today, I think most people who live near any body of water have either seen someone or heard something about this exciting new sport. Its the newest and fastest growing water sport in the world called "Stand up Paddle Boarding". Its also referred to as paddle surfing or SUP short for "Stand Up Paddling"
Research has shown that this kind of activity goes back centuries in French Polynesia where indigenous tribes were seen standing on hollowed out logs. By the early 1950's, beach boys in Hawaii were seen by tourists vacationing on the islands standing on their surfboards holding long wooden paddles. Today "Stand Up Paddling" boards are lighter, wider, faster and come in larger varieties of color ad design.
Currently, this sport is booming everywhere in the world. Races, events and competitions are being held in several countries including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Canada and Australia. The average person who may not have ever competed in a sport before, are competing in SUP races worldwide.
Christina Boeri, a passionate paddle boarding enthusiast and good friend of mine just returned from her one week Hawaiian trip and said "Its everywhere, everybody is doing it, every car has at least one board strapped onto the roof."
With Stand Up Paddle boarding, the possibilities are endless, if you want to ride waves it is a blast, if you want to explore and paddle beautiful flat-water lakes that is also a great adventure. I've witnessed people fishing on their boards, going down wild rapid rivers and as well as paddle surf the wake behind boats for long distances without a rope.
Some of the challenges beginners face when purchasing their first board, is what brand to buy, what size, shape, color and design. The choices are vast. New models and brands are being introduced to the market continuously. It is important to choose a board that is big enough to give you stability based on your weight and height. Another consideration would be the kind of paddling you intend to do.
Ridding waves and long distance speed paddling require completely different types of boards. Most people are purchasing what we call an "all a rounder" board witch has a typical length between a 10'6 to 11.'6. They are approximately 29 inches wide and 4 to 5 inches thick.
Many board companies will carry this category of paddleboard and this allows the user to catch waves and also paddle flat water. Boards will run you about $1000 to $2000 depending on the expected use. Paddles start at about $150 to $400 for top quality Carbon Fiber paddles.
The benefits of this new sport go way beyond the fun factor. The health benefits are fantastic and another bonus is that it works your mid section giving you an affective core workout. Paddleboard sale in the US will explode on that basis alone!
Personally, when I first tried this sport, I new within 5 minutes that I was hooked. The feeling of calmness and peace one experiences is so different than any other sport that I have ever done. It really is like walking on water!
Beginners should always get started on calm flat water and get a feel for the board and learn proper paddle strokes and balance. Paddle boarding schools all over the world make sure their customers have a positive experience by teaching their newbies in a relaxed calm body of water for their first outing.
Christina Boeri who teaches group and private lessons in South Florida for Paddles and Boards Inc. says pricing starts at around $79 for a 1.5 hour class. She says that she has not met 1 person yet, who was not completely stoked and hooked on the sport. Paddle Boarding is here to stay, find out why its the fastest growing water sport in the world, you'll be glad you did.
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