By Christina Cioci
Stand Up Paddling, or S.U.P., has been around for many years. Recently, it has gained popularity as a fun sport for more reasons than one. It can be done on any large body of water including rivers, lakes, or shallow areas with a depth of at least a foot, making this growing sport an accessible activity to people in most areas of the world! It’s not only relaxing and fun, it is also a great work out. S.U.P allows the paddler to see different depths of the water, marine life on all sides of them and to enjoy the scenery and nature around. Not just for celebrities or vacationers in exotic places, it is now offered here in Connecticut. (See our list of local places below.) Getting close to nature and not using fossil fuels while you're at it. What could be greener than that?
Stand up paddling originated in the Hawaiian Islands. SUPglobal explains in the history of this sport that “Stand up paddle surfing is derived from its Polynesian roots.” The Hawaiian translation is Ku Hoe He'e Nalu, which means to stand, to paddle, or to surf a wave. In 1960, the beach boys of Waikiki would stand on their boards and paddle out in the ocean to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. They found this was a good way to catch all the moments on camera and a safer way to protect the film. From this came the other common name for SUP: beach boy paddling.
This activity became a sport when athletes began to enjoy SUP and started competing in contests and even switching from SUP to surfing all while out catching waves. Traditional Paddle board explains how the sport became popular among athletes in Hawaii. “The sport caught on when athletes realized that not only are stand up paddle boards a great workout, they were also a whole lot of fun.”
I spoke with a friend that recently had the S.U.P experience while on vacation in the US Virgin Islands. Kerry Abramson hadn’t heard much about the sport prior to trying it but she had observed other tourists doing it throughout the week. Abramson said that the company they rented the boards from were excellent and asked questions like their level of athleticism to better determine the best board to be used. A brief lesson was all the needed and they were off on their boards.
“The set up was different than I imagined. I thought that we were going to stand parallel with the board, similar to a surf board or snowboard,” she said. “Instead we stood as if we were walking on the board, facing forward.”
Like Kerry, many people may have this perception. If you see a surf board usually the surfer is parallel. It is interesting to see S.U.P using the board in a different way.
“Initially, it was a little tricky to catch my balance but once I got it, it was fairly easy to maneuver,” Abramson said. She explained that the paddling itself was a great core exercise. It was also an awesome way to move around the island and see all the spots off of Saint John. “I would recommend SUP to anyone who is fit and looking for a fun water workout. As long as you're paired with an appropriate board for balance, you're good to go!”
Learn more about S.U.P (Stand up Paddling) at www.supglobal.com.
Centers to try SUP:
Down Under in WESTPORT AND ROWAYTON, CT
CT-SUP in Darien, CT
You can also find a local meet up for SUP on meetups.com and find paddle board rentals at Long Shore sailing school in Westport, CT, whatSUPct.com a mobile business bringing paddling to you, and other locations where kayaks and paddle boards are sold.