Stand Up Paddle Boarding

SUP is one of the fastest growing recreational and sporting activities on the water. Our gulf and inland waterways are perfect for paddle boarding. Our expert guides will make sure you understand not only how best to use your board, but introduce you to some of our most beautiful and secret spots.

What is Stand up paddle boarding or surfing:
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP), or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he’e nalu, is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage. The sport is an ancient form of surfing, and began as a way for surfing instructors to manage their large groups of learner surfers, as standing on the board gave them a higher viewpoint, increasing visibility of what was going on around them – such as incoming swell. To begin with, this started with using a one-bladed paddle, whilst standing on a normal length surfboard. The popularity of the modern sport of SUP has its origination in the Hawaiian Islands. In the early 1960s, the Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their long boards, and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. This is where the term “Beach Boy Surfing”, another name for Stand Up Paddle Surfing or boarding, originates.

The sport benefits athletes with a strong ‘core’ workout. SUP’ing is popular at warm coastal climates and resorts, and is gaining in popularity as celebrities are sampling the sport, and cross-over athletes are training with paddleboards. SUPs have been spotted around the globe, anywhere where there is easy access to safe waters, as well as in the surfing lineups of the world.

The first “modern” surfer to bring Stand Up Paddle Surfing or boarding out of Hawaii and onto mainland USA was Vietnam veteran, Rick Thomas. In 2000, Rick – on a 11ft Muñoz board, and with a Leleo Kinimaka paddle – introduced California to the new sport . The sport has subsequently become hugely popular in Europe, promoted largely by former professional windsurfing champion, Graeme Fuller

Surfers have converted because of the versatility of the new sport. Stand up paddle boarding offers surfers the ability to catch more waves in a set, as well as offering a better view of incoming sets.

New custom Stand up paddle board prices range from US$700 to US$1500, and most use glass-reinforced plastic construction using epoxy resin that is compatible with the expanded polystyrene foam used in the core. The boards are generally longer than 9 feet (3 m), and up to 12 feet (4 m) or more in length, with features such as padded decks and concave hulls; they generally have one or three surfboard-style fins in the stern for tracking.

As of October 3, 2008, the US Coast Guard now classifies SUPs as vessels and as a result SUP riders are obliged to wear a personal floatation device when paddling in certain areas. Whether this will affect the continued take up of stand up paddling in the USA remains to be seen.

A stand up paddle is one of several tools needed to stand up paddle surf. The stand up paddle is used to propel you across the surface of the water while standing on a surf board. The paddle consists of a blade, shaft and handle. Each component has its own purpose and form that allows you to paddle smoothly through the water.

Stand up surfer incorporating the paddle
Materials and design: Paddles used for stand up surfing are usually constructed from carbon, fiberglass or wood with flat blade on one end connecting to a handle on the other end with a long smooth shaft. The blade ranges from 6 to 10 inches in width with an oval or round shaft ranging from 67 to 86 inches in length with a 1 to 1.5 inch diameter. Blades are designed with several shapes and features. Normally the blade has a pizza stone shape sometimes having a slight keel on the back side of the blade. Other commonly used shapes include diamonds, or oar like blades.

Common stand up carbon handle
Proper Usage: Using the paddle properly with correct form allows you to exercise and complete various activities with your stand up paddle board. The proper form involves having the correct length and size of paddle. Common rule of thumb is a “shaka” length above your height or 5 to 7 inches. While standing on your board you hold the paddle with one hand on the handle and one hand around 1/3’s way down the shaft. Depending on what side you’re paddling on you alternate hand placements. If paddling on your right side you hold the handle with your left hand and the shaft with your right, vice versus on the left side. To paddle place the blade 1 to 2 feet in front of you in the water and pull the paddle through the water acting almost like you’re punching with your top hand. Pull the blade through the water until it gets around 6 inches to a foot behind your body. By using these techniques it allows you to paddle long distances, catch various sizes of waves and ride open ocean swells.

Check out: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Magazine