Stand-up paddle board a great tool for training

An article about stand up paddleboarding in Vancouver, written by Dave Norona for the June 1-3, 2007 issue of Metro Vancouver.

UP THE CREEK WITH A stand-up paddle board?

The stares come from every direction as I cruise by the Deep Cove Kayak Centre and place my board on the water. People are even more confused as I step up and onto my paddle board and paddle off, standing up! Welcome to the new sport of stand-up paddle board surfing. Actually, it was invented a long time ago, but was recently brought to the surface again by legendary surf pros using it as a cool way to train and get out on the water.

A paddleboard is about 10 to 12 feet long (3 to 3.6 metres), about 70 centimetres wide and 8 centimetres thick. It is not much different than a long board used in regular surfing. The difference of course is that you do not lie on the board but rather stand using a long shaft outrigger or marathon canoe paddle to propel yourself forward.

The advantage is that you can cruise at a much faster speed than using your arms and catch ocean swell or surf much easier. You also have your paddle to use as a brace in really big waves.

I was in Deep Cove to take part in the famous Tuesday Night Paddle Series. More than 80 paddle sport enthusiasts lined the start line and I think everyone was watching for me to fall in right off the start.

There was no way I was letting that happen although the wash from all the boats did make the start quite challenging. With the blast of the air horn the pack was off towards Cates Park. Paddlers had a choice of a five- or 10-kilometre course. I was smart and chose the shorter course and was happy with my choice as I fought the headwind all the way to Grey Rocks Island. Here we crossed the Indian Arm channel to round Boulder Island before returning to Deep Cove.

I suddenly found myself dueling it out with two women in a double kayak. As I closed the gap they sensed my presence and began to paddle faster. This only egged me on to push harder. However, my lack of steering skills made it difficult to keep on a straight path and they pulled slowly away as we crossed back toward Deep Cove.

Just as we entered the cove they were spent and I closed in to within six metres. It would not be enough as they held their lead and crossed the finish line just in front of me. “We could never let you beat us on that thing,” they replied as I caught up to them at the shoreline. I was totally spent and offered them a giant smile as we cooled down together cheering on the others as they hammered in.

If you’re looking for something inexpensive and fun to do to break up your work week then head down to the Tuesday Night Paddle Race. I will be honing in my skills each week and looking for some more competition as I train to paddle my stand up from Nanaimo to West Vancouver!

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