S.U.P., bro? Gnarly waves via Stand Up Paddleboarding


Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a unique hybrid sport that combines canoe paddling with a oversized surfboard. This sport caters to all ages and fitness levels. The roots of this activity are deeply embedded within the state of Hawaii. Where there is water, there is opportunity. There are many people who claim to have originated this water sporting activity, but most sources attribute the credit to the Wakiki Beachboys.

The Wakiki Beachboys started paddleboarding as early as 1901. 1901 marked the grand opening of the ‘Moana Hotel’ which used surfing and canoeing as a promotional tool for potential guests. To be fair, many significant others generated to the popularity and widespread gravitation toward this growing sport. But, it is the Wakiki Beachboys who took the necessary leaps and bounds to maintain the integrity of SUP.

How it started

Edward “Dude” Miller, a champion surfer, rounded up beachboys that adhered to a strict code of conduct. The rules were, “no drinking, no gambling, no hands straying over female tourists. His boys wore uniforms, were clean shaven and they kept the beach clean and safe.”

These boys experienced success within the sport due to years of experience. The Wakiki Beachboys exhibited an uncanny ability to navigate through different elements of the water such as tides, winds, currents and the different types of wildlife.

Although its origins span over a hundred years, SUP as a sport gained significant traction from the start of the 2000’s and on.

SUP contains many unique characteristics that draw in thousands of new members per day. This activity requires a full body workout that accentuates the use of core strength, cardiovascular endurance, balance and flexibility. As is the case with almost every sport, beginners learn by retaining fundamental aspects such as balancing, paddling and turning. Beginners are often advtised to start their paddleboarding journey in flat waters to become accustomed to the different nuances and intricacies of the sport. Paddleboarding lends itself to a variety of techniques, technologies and places.

Outstanding achiever

An individual who has mastered the board technologies, techniques and places that SUP has to offer is Laird Hamilton. Laird Hamilton is known as “King of the Watermen” for his outstanding versatility and overall dedication to the sport. Hamilton and Dave Kalama brought the sport of paddleboarding into the spotlight at the turn of the millennium. The efforts made from these men and several important others led to the rediscovery of paddleboarding and the massive growth in the US.

Competitive nature and community-building

The beautiful part about SUP is the way in which it combines two distinctly different water activities into one. The dual-nature of this sport creates opportunities to participate within different bodies of water. Rather than only being able to surf where there is waves (ocean), one can paddleboard in an ocean, lake, river, or tributary.

Recently, there has been a spike in popularity for competitive paddleboarding. The World Paddle Association places emphasis on showing a passion for the sport in order to grow. The WPA hosts races, meetups and classes for prospective paddlers. The Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championship is considered ‘Tour de France’ of paddleboarding. This particular competition serves as the ultimate pinnacle for paddlers. Participants travel thirty two miles through either the Kaiwi or Molokai channel by paddle. Most of the contestants reign from either Hawaii, California or Australia.

Competition among paddleboarders creates an elite community of individuals who compete based on their level of skill and ambition. The WPA, Paddlesports and PaddleGuru are just a few organizations that train, coach, promote and host competitions for their contestants. The community that surrounds these paddlers steers those involved toward achieving their goals, involvement with others and learning about themselves through progression within the sport. Overall, the SUP’ers are able to receive much more than just a full-body workout by engaging in this activity.

Water feels great on your feet

Stand Up Paddleboarding influences a wide variety ofthe United States’ population. In 2011, 1.2 million people gave SUP a try, an 18 percent increase from 2010. In 2012, 43 percent of SUP participants were female. In 2013, SUP declared that it had the most first-time participants than any other sport in the US. This may have been your first time hearing about SUP, but it certainly will not be the last.


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