by Browning Hemric
Stand up paddle boarding has spread like wildfire, and grown enormously in popularity in recent years; and why not? It looks like crazy awesome fun! From oceans to rivers and lakes, adventurers are taking their paddle boards on all kinds of water for beginners to SUP masters. Homo sapiens have been paddling crafts of this design for thousands of years, and tracing the exact history of SUP can differ depending on which dude brah is telling the story. Ancient cultures from South America and Africa used canoes and long boards to travel up and down rivers with long poles to propel and steer themselves. These homemade crafts were used for travel, fishing and hopefully picking up dates for a night out! Surfing however is typically linked with Polynesian ancestry, and the story of Captain Cook first encountering native Hawaiians “hanging ten” in 1778.
Paddle boards today come in all kinds of unique shapes, sizes, designs and price ranges for anyone who’s ready to give it a go. Lots of outdoors stores and SUP shops will even let you demo a paddle board before buying. Here are some tips to guide you on your journey to SUP nirvana!
Obviously your board is a key piece of equipment needed for this little experiment you’re trying, so make sure you get one that’s right for your height, weight and skill level. Our friends over at a little store called REI have a great article for tips on picking your board: http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-choose-a-stand-up-paddleboard.html
Whether you’re ready to shred the gnar of some class 4 whitewater or just meander around the duck pond, there’s a sweet board ready for adventure.
You will also need the ability to stand up to try stand up paddle boarding (duh brah!), and the ability to prepare yourself to laugh if you fall off the first few times. You’ll need to be able to find balance and inner peace before you can begin to think about steering and powering your board with paddling. The folks at Stand Up Journal have some pointers on preparing to stand using the “pony ride” technique. http://standupjournal.com/stand-up-paddleboarding/ Remember to calmly approach your paddle board, do not let it smell your fear!
Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Now that you’re standing (hooray!) and comfortable balancing the board in flat water you’re ready for some basic paddle strokes. Make sure to always keep a hand covering the grip of your paddle. If you’re paddling on the right, your right hand will be lower on the paddle shaft and your left hand will be on the grip, vise versa for the left side. There’s all kinds of strokes that will turn you different directions and power you forward, here’s another great link from REI with some basic strokes:http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/paddleboarding.html
Now grasshopper, or should we say waterbug, snatch the pebble! Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help you get ready to take on a fun new and healthy SUP hobby! Get out there and enjoy the beautiful rivers, lakes and beach-fronts in your area atop a stand up paddle board.
Here’s a final link from our friends at Blue Planet Surf on mistakes beginners often make:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCpFF94HlaU
See what he did there? Don’t do that!