A few years back I noticed a strange craft floating down the Charles River during my morning run. At first glance it seemed as though the guy was walking on water! Was this an aberration or was I running a little too hard? It turned out to be neither. The man was standing on what seemed to be an over-sized surfboard and was paddling with what looked like a canoe paddle made for a giant! What I had stumbled across was a Stand Up Paddle Board…
Stand Up Paddleboarding (aka SUP) is the place where surfing meets kayaking. It was born in the tropical waters of Hawaii, infected the West Coast thanks to folks like Liard Hamilton, and is now taking the Northeast by storm. To be honest, it took me a while to understand why SUP was becoming so popular in this neck of the woods. Then I tried it. I have to say that I still prefer kayaking by a long shot but I’ve come to appreciate SUP for the change of pace and the freedom that it offers.
Here are the three things that I like most about SUP…
1) Unique Perspective:
I’ve spent the better part of my paddling career sitting on my butt. Call me connected, call me lazy, call me whatever. The point is that I’m used to seeing the water from a kayakers perspective and that viewpoint is about 2ft above sea-level! There’s a lot to see down there but I was amazed by what things looked like the first time that I went out on a SUP.
Granted, this viewpoint is only about 5ft above sea level but those 3ft make a huge difference. You can see further and your connection with the water is completely different. It’s refreshing to change things up from time to time and the unique perspective that you gain on a SUP makes giving it a try worthwhile!
2) Paddling with a Dog:
One of the most special moments that I have had in life involved our kayak shop’s dog named Morton. It took him almost a year to warm up to the idea of taking a swim (which seemed like a long time given that he’s half Labrador Retriever!). He spent months pawing at the water from the dock and would shake uncontrollably every time we tried to coax him to take the plunge. It wasn’t looking good for a while until one day when I took a paddle board for a quick spin around the docks. All of a sudden I heard a splash and there was Morton doggy-paddling his way toward me. I paddled over, helped him up on the board, and then he took a seat up by the nose.
Ever since then he wags his tail a little faster at the mention of the word “paddleboard.” Frankly, it’s hard to get away from the dock without Morton along for the ride! Not that I mind…it’s great to have his company out there!!!
3) The Workout:
Ever done 1000 crunches?? I actually used to subject myself to this in the gym during my running days. There’s no doubt that it’s a great workout (as evidenced by my 8-pack abs, lol) but trust me…it’s boring. SUP is an excellent alternative for those who hate the gym as much as I do. It really focuses on your core if you’re doing paddling correctly. The forward stroke is much like a side-crunch with respect to the muscles that are activated. Not only that but being out on a stand up paddle board island makes you supremely motivated to finish your workout. After all, if you don’t crunch then you’re literally not going home!!!
Anyway…that’s all he wrote. If you haven’t already given SUP a try then consider doing so this summer and let me know what you like best about it in a comment J.
Happy paddling (SUP or otherwise)!