What’s the draw of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first written in 2009 and forgotten about til now… 

I find it hard explaining the draw to stand up paddleboarding to some of my friends and from an outsider’s view, I don’t blame their skepticism.

Take a look at a picture of someone paddling flatwater and from the outset and to be perfectly honest, it looks pretty lame. Then take a look at a picture of someone riding a wave with a paddle, and it looks like a crutch. Put differently, flatwater paddling is a pretty inefficient way to get around compared to a kayak, and in the lineup an SUP has few friends.

So what’s the draw? Is this some sort of trendy new fad that’s going to go the way of inline skating (sorry to the one or two rollerbladers that might be reading this) or will it go the way of the bicycle and grow to become a bonafide sport, pastime and form of transportation?

I think the growth of SUP will continue and become a mainstay as a popular form of recreation and fitness for many years to come. Here’s why…

  • Nothing Else Like It: Stand Up Paddleboarding represents a whole new realm of fun on the water.
  • Excellent Workout: Combining the exceptional core workout along with the constant challenge of balance training, stand up paddleboarding covers a lot of ground.
  • Constant Change: While mentioned above as a contributing factor to its fitness, that factor of constant change also makes for a more interesting, challenging experience… No monotony here!
  • Versatility: Flatwater touring, surfing waves of almost any size, downwind gliding, fishing in hard to reach locations… You can do pretty much anything you want on the water, with the extra element of fun!
  • New Waveriding Opportunities: Stand Up Paddleboarding makes any wave rideable… Boat wakes, wind swell or South swell, it’s  fun on every level.
  • The View: Seems like a minor point, but the elevated view affords the opportunity to see the water from a whole new perspective. You catch a lot of glare sitting at or near water level… Standing up you can see right down, far deeper into the water.
  • The Community: There’s seems to be something pretty special about the type of people that are drawn to SUP…. Lots of camaraderie, friendship, shakas, and for the most part is very inclusive community.

So there you go… If you’re curious about the sport, hopefully this article has given you that last little push needed to get you out onto the water and if you’re already a convert, we’ll see ya out on the water!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post sitting has actually been sitting in my Drafts folder since June 3, 2009 and kinda forgot about it until now. That said I think it’s still relevant, in fact maybe even more so today… At the very least, I know it to be at least more truth than speculation.

To strengthen my statements from 6 years ago, the sport has grown well beyond the fad stage of things, and has started to make its mark on popular culture. Lately I see SUP all over the place… Advertising catering to that “adventurous” demographic, mentions in broadcast media, and during the warmer months, rarely do I not see a board or two mounted on top of at least a car or two.

To add, personally I’ve found that recent encounters on the beach no longer start with a “what the heck is that thing”, or “I saw that in Maui”, or “that must be hard”… Instead small talk is made about where I went, how I like my board, and other topics that show that we’re no longer the freak show we once were.

Thanks for reading, and paddle on!

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