By now (late 2019) stand up paddle boarding has thrust itself way into the mainstream of surfing culture. With fringe beginnings at the spark of its revival in the early 2000s, I can remember seeing the odd SUP-rider in the line-up every now and again.
Today, I rarely go to the beach and not see someone on a SUP or one of the many variations it has since inspired.
Some surfers have mixed feelings about stand-up paddle boards, but as one of the fastest growing sports in North America and probably world-wide, stand up paddle boarding is definitely something to consider and experiment with if you love the ocean.
What is a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP)?
A stand up paddle board, or SUP, is a type of surfcraft that you stand on and move with a handheld paddle.
The defining characteristics of paddle boards is their high volume and the paddle. Other than than, variations can run wild.
The major difference between the design of a paddle board and a traditional surfboard is width and volume – both of which are larger on a SUP to allow the rider to stand upright while staying afloat on the water.
From there, you can find variations in rocker, length, rails, fin setups, bottom contours, deck material, nose shapes, tail shapes, etc. – just like on a surfboard.
Some paddle boards are designed for paddling on flat water, while others are designed for catching and riding waves.
You’ll find that SUPs are a lot more stable than surfboards, this goes back to the volume and width. But you can find paddle boards that allow for pivots and turns once you’ve caught a wave – the paddle becomes less necessary.
Given the large volume of most paddle boards, catching small waves and gliding across the water is fast and easy.
They can be a great way to explore the ocean when the waves are flat, a fun addition to your small wave quiver, and a new challenge in more critical waves.
History of the SUP
The stand up paddle board dates way back to the beginnings of mankind’s relationship with the ocean. Standing up with a paddle on boats, boards, and rafts was an effective way to fish and move around through bodies of water.
The modern sport of stand up paddle boarding can be traced back to the 40s and 50s in Hawaii where surf instructors would stand up on their longboards and maneuver with paddles while providing tips and taking photographs of tourists learning to surf.
But, stand up paddle boarding never received the same mainstream attention that surfing did.
It wasn’t really until the early 2000s when surfers Larid Hamilton and Dave Kalama were photographed on SUPs that the resurgance of stand up paddle started to take off – making appearances in competitions, photo shoots, etc.
In 2004, Rick Thomas brought stand up paddle surfing to California from Hawaii.
And in 2009, stand up paddle boarding was one of the fasted growing sports in North America.
Today you can find entire shops dedicated to SUPs where you’ll find everything from stand up paddle boards design for surfing, to flatwater, to fishing, and even foil boarding.