What is Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)?
Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP is a Summer water sport and outdoor activity. This is a relatively new, but it gaining in popularity. You could say it’s a mixture of surfing and kayaking in lighter versions of both. The name comes from the words “to stand”, “to paddle”, “board” and “moving”.
To ride a SUP, you just stand on a special large flat board, take a paddle and start rowing, you don’t need any special training or special skills. Beginners need to choose a wide stable board and start training with a kneeling pose, and then gently stand on two legs and catch the balance. It may not work the first time, but the skill will appear very quickly. Then you need to learn how to hold the paddle correctly — it depends on how fast you can ride the board and how fast you get tired. SUP riding with the right technique — it’s a great full body core workout.
SUP can be done anywhere: in the seas, lakes, bays and rivers. In any region and any country, you can go out on the water with a SUP board and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
SUP boarding is mostly a Summer but almost all-season activity. In a warm wetsuit, you can do it even in cold weather — the main thing is that the surface of the water is not covered with ice.
Unlike surfing, or kayaking, on Stand-up board you can do a lot of things: row and explore the surroundings, do yoga, fish or surf on small waves. In addition, you can take part in SUP races, which are held in different regions and take several hours.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) brief history:
Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP, or “Hoe he’e nalu” in the Hawaiian language, is a water sport that combines the traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe paddling with surf.
It is one of the fastest-growing water sports which has technically been around since ancient times (over 1,000 years ago). SUP started as a simple means of transportation, but it had a 300-year or so hiatus.
In the 60s, it was picked up again by the Waikiki ’beach-boys’ in Hawaii, USA, who found its higher advantage as a better way to keep an eye on the pupils in their surf schools and incoming swells. In fact, from time to time they surfed the waves themselves using the paddle to steer the board.
Since then, Stand Up paddleboarding continued to become popular in the Hawaiian Islands. Even names such as Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and Rich Thomas used SUP as an alternative way to train in the water while the surf was down in the 2000s.
Soon stand up paddle surfing offered instant appeal and accessibility to all kinds of surfers. It allowed them to paddle to far away little-known breaks that were uncrowded. In addition, SUP increased the number of waves a surfer could ride in a session and the range of conditions that could be surfed. Furthermore, very quickly stand-up paddlers realized that the “surf” could be taken out of it, and recreational and racing SUP were discovered as sports unto themselves.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) types and disciplines:
One of the main attractions of Stand Up paddleboarding is its versatility as an activity.
Stand Up paddleboarding is a sport suitable for all ages and conditions.
It involves standing on a large board and propelling oneself forward using a long paddle with one blade. The action of propelling oneself across the water requires mindfulness and engagement of all the muscles, therefore paddling on the stand up paddle board provides a complete full body and core workout.
In addition, a SUP board can be also used to practice yoga, pilates, or fitness exercises on it, and even to fish.
Therefore, there are many disciplines of stand up paddleboarding including: SUP racing, SUP touring, SUP surfing, SUP yoga, SUP pilates, SUP fitness, SUP foling, SUP white water, and some others.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) equipment:
A SUP board is the main thing you need to practice Stand Up paddle boarding. SUP’s growth in popularity has been matched by an increased number of board shapers and producers. Currently, there is a bewildering number of boards available and — as with surfing — a plethora of different tail shapes and fin configurations too.
There are five basic types of SUP boards:
- Surf/wave Stand-up paddle boards
- SUP Yoga/Pilates/Fitness boards
- All-around/touring SUP boards
- Inflatable stand up paddle boards
- Racing SUP boards
In addition, to do SUP you will need: SUP paddle, SUP leash, SUP fin, PFD (Personal Flotation Device), which will help to keep you afloat and it will offer you some time to recover from your fall, and SUP clothing.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) spots:
SUP is also an amazing way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors as it can be practiced in many different bodies of water, such as oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, river rapids, ponds, harbors, large indoor pools, etc.
If you are planning a SUP trip, you might want to check out some of the world’s best spots for Stand Up paddle boarding, such as:
- British Columbia, Canada
- Lake Tahoe, USA
- El Salvador, Central America
- Hawaii, USA
- Tahiti, French Polynesia
- Es Figueral Beach, Ibiza, Spain
- Greek Islands
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Mauritius Island, Indian Ocean
- Bali, Indonesia
Learning Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP):
At first glance it seems that you can learn SUP on your own and in a short time. It really is. Also, as Stand Up paddle boarding has become such a popular water sport, it is fairly easy to find SUP equipment rental companies all around the world.
However, when paddling for the first time in a new location, it is always a good idea to hire a local certified SUP instructor so that you can benefit from his knowledge of this sport and the area where you will do it together. SUP school or SUP camp is also a great way to find like-minded people.
For example, if you ever choose Ibiza, Spain, as your next SUP destination, make sure to get in touch with Paddle Surf Spain and SUP YogaPilates, Ibiza island-based organizations founded by local Stand up paddle surf professionals and lovers with many years of experience.
Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) safety rules
In general, Stand Up paddleboarding (SUP) is a very accessible and safe activity. However, as it is practiced on the water, you must keep a safety-conscious attitude when getting ready for your SUP practice and during it. Here are some safety tips that will help you to enjoy a brilliant and safe paddle.
- Choose the right SUP location according to the weather forecast
- Evaluate the environment for SUP paddling
- Check that your SUP equipment is in good condition
- Pack your dry bag with your SUP essentials
- Be mindful and know your limits
Text: Ana “Shankara” Santos, a certified SUP, SUP Yoga and SUP Pilates instructor by the Spanish Federation of Surf (Fesurf Federación Española de Surf, FES) and the International Surfing Association (ISA) based on the Ibiza Island, Spain. She is a founder of Paddle Surf Spain and SUP YogaPilates. They provide a wide range of stand up paddle boarding activities from events and classes to holidays, camps and tours. Natalia Kirasheva and Ivan Kuznetsov contributed to this guide