Stand up paddle surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. The sport was documented in a 2013 report that identified it as the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants in the United States that year. Variations include flat water paddling for outdoor recreation, fitness, or sightseeing, racing on lakes, large rivers and canals, surfing on ocean waves, paddling in river rapids (whitewater SUP), Paddle board yoga and even fishing.
Stand up paddlers wear a variety of wet suits and other clothing, depending on water and air temperature since most of their time is spent standing on the board.
A related, traditional sport, paddleboarding, is done kneeling on a board and paddling with the hands, similar to a butterfly swimming stroke. The term "paddleboarding" is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to stand up paddle surfing.
Historian and writer Steve West claimed that the contemporary notion of stand up paddle boarding, if attributed to the Waikiki Beach Boys of Oahu during the 1960s, considers that outrigger canoeing should be recognised as the direct link between the idea of standing on a board and propelling it with a canoe paddle, since the individual SUP skills (board riding and paddling) already existed, used by people who had traditionally grown up learning them.
SUP originated in Africa where it was common practice for individuals to stand on their canoes and use their paddle to propel themselves forwards. This method was used by warriors in an attempt to conduct stealth attacks.
The contemporary form of the sport originated in the 16th century where Hawaiian surfers would surf on boards of up to 5 meters in length. These surfers used a paddle to operate boards that were otherwise unwieldy.
SUP continued in Tel Aviv in the twentieth century where lifeguards stood on wide boards to ensure a clear view of possible swimmers in distress. The lifeguards used a paddle to propel them through the water quickly to rescue swimmers.
In the 1940s Waikiki surf instructors Duke Kahanamoku and Leroy and Bobby AhChoy began SUP as a way to stand on their boards during incoming swells, known as Beach Board surfing.
In the 1990s SUP was taught at Hawaiian surf schools as an alternative way to surf when there was little swell. This practice became increasingly popular so surf instructor Brian Keaulana decided to add ‘’Beach Boy Surfing’’ to the world-recognized ‘’Buffalo Big Board Contest’’ in 2003. The response to this new category was overwhelming, with many recognized surfers choosing to partake.
SUP races became common; in 2012 Kai Lenny won the seasons finals of the first Standup World Series championship races.
The first magazine devoted to the sport, Standup Journal, was founded in June 2007.
According to the Outdoor Foundation's 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, stand up paddle boarding was listed as the most popular outdoor activity among first-time participants. The report stated that the median age for stand up paddle boarding was 28 years old.
The Outdoor Foundation's 2015 Special Report into Paddlesports found that 2.8 Million (or 0.9%) of Americans participated in standup paddlboarding in 2014. This is up from 2.0 million in 2013. Ages 25-44 made up the highest percentage of overall contributors (47%). The highest participation rate was teenagers ages 14-17 (1.8%), with males comprising 76% of this age bracket.
Materials and design
New SUP board prices range from US$600 to US$3500, and most use glass-reinforced plastic construction using polyester or epoxy resin that is compatible with the polyurethane or expanded polystyrene foam used in the core. Some SUP boards use a hollow wood construction instead of foam with epoxy resin. In the last few years inflatable boards have been introduced as well. The boards are generally longer than 9 feet (2,7 m), and can be longer than 12 feet (3,6 m), with features such as padded decks and concave hulls; they generally have one or three surfboard-style fins in the stern for tracking. Boards can also be a short as 7 feet, typically made out of high performance Carbon Fiber. Boards such as these are used in Stand Up Paddle Surf competitions (smaller boards are more maneuverable). Race boards, which range from 12ft6in to 14ft, are usually made of fiberglass or carbon fiber.
Riverine SUP boards experiment with different fabrics and polymers to endure the abuse the board takes in the river.
Safety and regulations
Water safety is practiced and regulated by a wide range of overlapping authorities.
In many areas of the US, SUP surfing is treated like bodysurfing, boogie boarding, or other forms of prone surfing (surfboard riding). No regulations require the use of a personal flotation device (PFD) while using a SUP board in the surf zone. However, the jurisdictions and rules requiring a PFD may vary according to the type of water: surf zone, internal waters, harbors and other inland waterways. The US Coast Guard classified SUPs as vessels, like canoes or kayaks. Hence, SUP riders are required to wear a PFD when paddling in certain areas outside of the surf zone. Additionally, areas such as Myrtle Beach, SC or Virginia Beach, VA closely regulate beach and surf zones, requiring the use of leashes on a SUP board similar to the law for surfboards. These regulations and requirements may be enforced seasonally during high-tourism seasons or all year.
No regulations require the use of a personal flotation device (PFD) while using a SUP board in the surf. In flat water environments localised regulations may require the use of a PFD such as on lakes, rivers and inland waterways. In a teaching environment SUP schools and clubs individual risk assessments may require the use of PFD's for less confident stand up paddle boarders. The use of a leash is always recommended in all paddling environments and is a key piece of safety equipment. Specific leashes are designed for specific uses of the paddle board.
A stand up paddle is used to propel an individual across the surface of the water while standing on a surfboard. The paddle consists of a blade, shaft and handle.
Materials and design
Paddles used for stand up surfing are similar to but longer than traditional canoe paddles. They are usually constructed from carbon, fiberglass or wood with a flat blade on one end connecting to a handle on the other end by a long smooth shaft. The blade ranges from 6 to 10 inches in width with an oval or round shaft ranging from 67 to 86 inches in length with a 1 to 1.5 inch diameter. Blades are designed with several shapes and features. Normally the blade has a banana peel shape sometimes with a slight keel on the back side of the blade. Other commonly used shapes include diamonds, or oars. Different blade shapes are sometimes used for different types of paddling conditions (long-distance, flat lake water versus ocean surf for example).
The proper form for paddle surfing requires a paddle of the correct length and size. A common rule of thumb is a "shaka" length, or 5 to 7 inches, above the rider's height for surfing and about 10 inches above rider's head for racing. Paddles are held with two hands, using a wide grip instead of keeping the hands close together. The proper way to hold the paddle is with the blade tilted away from the body. This propels the paddler through the water quicker. The push-pull method is the most effective way of paddling when stand up paddle boarding. This method requires inserting the paddle gently into the water ahead of the feet, and then pulling it backwards and lifting it back out of the water.
Performance surf boards were traditionally made from laminated layers over foam cores. SUP boards are larger boards and the desire to travel with them has led to the development of an inflatable system where the board and pump can be carried in a back pack. The core material is called 'drop stitch'. Thousands of locked nylon stitches keep the board at a specific thickness. Pressure from specially designed hand pumps can inflate a board to over 30Psi. This creates a board not much less rigid than a hard board. This makes inflatable boards both durable and transportable.
- "Research - Outdoor Participation - Outdoor Recreation Participation Report 2013 - Outdoor Industry Association". outdoorindustry.org. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- 2015 Special Report into Paddlesports downloaded from American Canoe on 12 September 2016
- "Barefoot Boards - Handcrafted Wooden Boards". www.barefoot-boards.com. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- "GSS - Glide Paddle Boards Surface Shield".
- "Code of Federal Regulations Title 33 Part 2(A)". e-Code of Federal Regulations. U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- Casey, Robert (2011). Stand Up Paddling: Flatwater to Surf and Rivers. Seattle, WA: The Mountaineers Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-59485-253-4.
- "Myrtle Beach Laws - MyrtleBeach.com". MyrtleBeach.com. City of Myrtle Beach. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "Local Ordinances of the City of Virginia Beach" (PDF). vbgov.com. City of Virginia Beach. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
- "A leash is a necessity not an accessory!". SUPboarder Mag. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
- "The ABC's of SUP boards with advice on choosing equipment".
- "How To Hold A SUP Paddle The Right Way • Just Paddleboard". Just Paddleboard. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
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