What is the hottest flat-water sport right now?
The fast-growing sport of stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fun, easy way to go play on the water. With a minimum of equipment, you can paddle anything from ocean surf to lakes and rivers—no waves required.
Paddleboarding offers an amazing full body workout and is becoming a favorite cross-training activity for skiers, snowboarders and other athletes. And since you’re standing at your full height, you’ll enjoy excellent views of everything from sea creatures to what’s on the horizon. It’s almost like walking on water!
You need just a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy this sport:
- Stand up paddleboard: This is by far your most significant gear investment. Sizes are based on the paddler’s weight and experience. More experienced and lighter paddlers can choose narrower boards. Novice paddlers should choose wider, flatter boards, which offer more stability.
- Paddle: Stand up paddles have an angle or “elbow” in the shaft for maximum efficiency. Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6” to 8” taller than you are (though some manufacturers recommend an 8” to 10” differential).
Paddleboarding on Calm Water
When you’re learning the sport, it’s best to start out in ideal conditions: flat, calm water that’s free of obstacles like boats and buoys.
Mounting the Paddleboard
When you’re a beginner, it’s easier to kneel on the board rather than to stand directly upright. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
- Standing alongside the board, place your paddle across the deck of the board and use it as an outrigger. The paddle grip is on the rail (edge) of the board; the blade rests on the water.
- Hold the board by the rails. One hand will also be holding the paddle grip.
- Pop yourself onto the board into a kneeling position, just behind the center point of the board.
- From that kneeling position, get a feel for the balance point of the board. The nose shouldn’t pop up out of the water and the tail shouldn’t dig in.
- Keep your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it.
Once you’re ready, stand up on the board one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were. You might also bring a friend to wade out about knee-deep with your board. Have your friend stabilize the board as you get the hang of standing on it.
Techniques: On the Water
A few tips to help you keep your balance as you stand upright on the paddleboard:
- Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centered between the rails (board edges). Don’t stand on the rails.
- Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
- Balance with your hips—not your head.
- Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
- Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid the temptation to stare at your feet.
- It’s much like bicycling: When your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.
YouTube has dozens of videos of the sport…for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WakICTRuWoI