Have Fun In The Sun With Stand Up Paddle!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) has been around for thousands of years. Originally out of necessity for fishing or traveling, it quickly became a fun activity as well as a symbol of status.
As well as allowing you to enjoy the water, SUP is a great workout.
You can have fun with your friends as well as get a tan and become incredibly fit so you can achieve the dream body you have always desired.
As an alternative to surfing or to practice your yoga moves, stand up paddle is heaps of fun!
The History Of Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Ancient coastal cultures have been using boards and small vessels for as long as they could stand on their own two feet.
Boards were an excellent way to travel on rivers and ocean shores.
In Africa, people have been standing on paddles carrying spears to catch fish.
Paddles are a very efficient and quiet way for warriors to travel along small rivers into enemy territory.
The very first evidence of stand up paddling was found on three thousand year old remains of pottery from Peru.
The coastal town of Chan Chan, was the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America.
Fishermen stood on small crafts now called ‘caballitos de totora’ meaning ‘little horses made of reed’.
Bamboo was used as a paddle and, after fishing they would have fun surfing the waves on their way back home. The coastline of Peru is still very popular with surfers.
Stand up paddle as a sport originates from Hawaii and has Polynesian roots.
Hawaiians call it ‘Ku Hoe He’e Nalu’ which literally means ‘to stand, to paddle, to surf a wave. After a ritual, a board was carved out of koa tree.
The size depended on social status, the royalty owning five metre long boards. Common villagers used boards which were no longer than three metres.
After the Second World War, Hawaii became a popular tourist destination. Local beach boys started teaching surfing.
They would stand up and paddle when the surf was quiet, or take pictures of surfers.
SUP only officially started taking off as a sport since 2005 and is becoming more and more popular.
The first SUP race was held in Lake Tahoe, California, in 2007. The first Standup World Series championships were held in Hawaii in 2012.
The Benefits Of Stand Up Paddle
SUP is an intense overall workout and involves both aerobic and strength training.
The intensity of your workout depends on the water you paddle. Quiet waters provide gentle exercise, while choppy water are more challenging.
As your endurance and balance improve, you will tone and strengthen your legs.
You will also workout your core and back muscles. Because you also use your arms to paddle, you will gain strength and muscle tone here too.
SUP is a low impact activity and therefore it’s gentle on your joints, tendons and ligaments.
For the same reason, it is ideal for people in rehabilitation who want to get back into fitness.
Lastly, SUP is a perfect stress relief as water is known to be very soothing.
How To Get Started With Stand Up Paddle Boarding
It is easy to get started as nearly any body of water can become your playground.
In pleasant weather, you can wear shorts and a t-shirt or swimmers. In winter, you will need to wear a wetsuit or a dry suit. Also wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
Due to it being a growing industry, there are now many types and sizes of boards available depending on your needs as well as your weight and expertise.
There are boards designed for flat water, river, racing, fishing and even yoga.
According to experts, your paddle should be 15 to 25 cm taller than you.
Stop by your local surf store and have a chat with an expert before you make any decisions and invest in the perfect board and paddle for you. You certainly will not regret it.
Most SUPs have a built-in handle for easy transportation to the water. To keep your board close to you in case you fall off, it’s a good idea to purchase a leg rope (leash).
Before getting wet, do some research on the local waters and weather conditions. Beginners should start on flat water.
At first you might want to kneel on your board until you feel confident enough to stand up.
Once you are standing on your board, your feet should be parallel hip-width distance apart centered between the edges. And avoid staring at your feet but look at the horizon.
You should carry a safety whistle and light if you are going to paddle after sunset.
If you are not confident yet, you can also join a club to get private lessons and rent the equipment.
Don’t forget your sunglasses and apply sunscreen!
For more info on clubs and events, check the SUP Australia (SUPA) website.