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The term getting “on the water” has taken a whole new meaning with growth a new water sport - Stand Up Paddle Boarding. This intriguing new paddle sport can trace its roots back to the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1960’s the “beach boy” surf instructors of Waikiki needed a way to watch for sets of good waves coming in for their students. By grabbing a long paddle from the outrigger canoes and standing up on a surf board- they essentially invented the sport of stand up paddle boarding or SUP.
A stand up paddle board looks very much like standard surfboards- but the construction and dimensions are altered to allow the paddler to stand up. By creating a board that is longer and wider- one can stand easily and move through the water by paddling with a long canoe-like paddle. Most SUP’s range from 10-12 feet in length and are equipped with a fin on the bottom of the board. By combining the fun of surfing with the ease and efficiency of canoeing, SUP appeals to a wide range of paddlers.
One of the reasons why the sport is growing so quickly is that is very diverse and appeals to all ages. With the same board- a paddler can paddle on glass calm water- go for a long workout- and even surf. The boards are easy to move about – in terms of getting them to the water and in maneuvering them on the water. All you need is your board, a paddle and your PFD (lifejacket), which can usually all be carried together at once. Paddlers also use an ankle leash to keep them connected to their board in case they fall off.
Another unique aspect to SUP is the perspective the paddler has with the water. By standing up the paddler can see things very differently in the water, compared to kayaking. The height above the water allows you to see fish and undersea life from a new viewpoint.
On the Sunshine Coast- Davis Bay and Porpoise Bay are popular locations for trying this sport. New paddlers can take introductory classes or rent boards to give it a try. SUP fitness classes are also gaining in popularity where one goes on the water and engages in strength training and yoga-like exercises while being on a board.