There is a simple reason why stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing sports in the world: it is good fun and anyone can do it. After all, who wouldn’t be attracted to experiencing the coveted “surfer’s glide” or as Billabong puts it: “Only a surfer knows the feeling.”
Aside from the sheer enjoyment factor, SUPing has attracted many athletes due to the sport’s exceptional cross training benefits. SUP offers tremendous health benefits because it requires the paddler to engage a whole series of muscles simultaneously for both propulsion and balance.
Standing on a surface as unstable as water is not easy; constant small corrections of posture are required in order to stay upright. In making these corrections, the paddler engages all of his or her stabilizing muscles and keeps them activated. While stabilizing muscles consist mainly of core muscles (abdominals, obliques, glutes, lower back, pelvis and hips), the smaller muscles around every joint – especially the knees and ankles – are also engaged. This multitude of minute movements is what maintains balance. Do it for long enough, and you will find yourself getting really fit, really fast.
Once we start looking at stroke mechanics, we can see the stamina and toning benefits of SUPing too. Quality stroke mechanics involve torso rotation in a unique forward-scooping motion that further engages the core muscles. While your arms and should could do most of the work, activating your back and core muscles as well will produce a far more effective paddle stroke.
Past the beginner stage, SUPing can open up a whole new world of opportunities. Long distance flat water and open ocean paddling, for example, offers incredible stamina benefits whilst the recreational style lends itself to touring, sight seeing and exploration.
The intestity of the paddling experience varies according to the type of type board used, the riding style, and of course the weather and water conditions on the day.
There are also many different boards shapes and sizes to choose from depending on ability and desired usage category. If you are starting out, consider using a board that is in the 10 to 12 foot range, with a width of 26 to 30 inches. This is not a must as individuals who have experience in similar sporting activities would be able to jump in at the intermediate level and therefore select a board based on their desired usage.
SUPing can be broken down into three specific categories: long distance or racing, wave riding and touring or recreational (including SUP Yoga & SUP Polo). The board types for each category vary significantly.
Long distance or race boards are between 12 feet 6 inches (12’6”) and 17 feet (17’) long with 12’6” being the official size for all national and international racing events that form part of the qualifying and world series.
Wave riding boards are no more than 10 feet in length with professional riders riding boards as small as 7 feet 3 inches (7’3”).
There is also the option to go for a rigid or inflatable board. Inflatables are far more durable and stiff than one would imagine and therefore cannot be ignored if you are looking at getting into the sport for touring or recreational purposes. Inflatables also fold up into a bag roughly the same size as a large hand luggage suitcase which make them the obvious choice for those facing storage challenges.
When it comes to paddles, the options are endless. Materials used vary from plastic, to aluminium to carbon fibre and are available in foldable, adjustable or fixed shaft designs.
As with most things though, personal preference is the ultimate deciding factor (and budget, of course). The best option is always to try before you buy so contact us and come give SUPing a try.