Surfing is undoubtedly one of, if not, the most popular adventure water sport on the planet. It has grown into a household name and has spread to every corner of the world. It’s a great sport to get into especially for people who love the water and the rush of trying something action-packed. But perhaps you are a complete beginner and wants to try it out but still unsure of their skills or a veteran who wants to try something new. Stand Up Paddleboarding might just be the one for you. In this article, we jot down exactly why SUP is a great alternative to surfing and why you should try it out.
What is Stand Up Paddleboarding, exactly?
Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP is a type of water board sport that’s kind of a mix between surfing and kayaking. Like surfing, the rider rides a longboard over the surface of the water. This can either be rigid or inflatable. But instead of lying prone and paddling with the arms, the rider uses a paddle with a long handle—while standing on the board—to navigate.
This board sport traces its roots to Hawaii which is also the birthplace of Surfing. Although evidence suggests that earlier forms of the sport existed since ancient times, the SUP that we see today emerged in the 1940s Waikiki. Local surf legend John Ah Choy started to use a canoe paddle instead of paddling traditionally when it became too difficult. Soon after, his sons started doing this as it made teaching new surfers easier. The height gave them a clear view of the surroundings making it easier to keep track of the learners.
SUP vs Surfing
As you may have guessed, SUP formed as an offshoot of surfing and so it shares many characteristics of its parent. But over the years, it too has evolved in ways that made it a distinct sport in and of itself.
Both surfing and SUPs are boardsports and surface water sports. They use boards made out of various materials to glide over the water surface and as a means for the rider to navigate. Both have a very dedicated fanbase with some happily engaged in both sports. Though surfing has been around longer, both sports have a strong following around the world.
The key difference between the two is how the rider navigates. A surfer lies facedown on the board and paddles with their arms. They then stand up from the prone position when riding the waves. The stand up paddlers, as the name suggests, start already standing on the board. They use a paddle with a long handle to navigate their way over the water.
SUP is also much more versatile than surfing. Because getting around is much easier and efficient, SUPs can be used on more bodies of water from open seas to calm inland lakes and rivers. Paddling also meant riders can go on longer and farther sessions, unlike surfing.
Why SUP is the best alternative to Surfing
There are many reasons why SUP is a great alternative to Surfing. From skill level, accessibility, down to personal preferences. Here are a few key features to take note of:
Similar enough to be familiar
As stated above, surfing and SUP shares many key features which makes them pretty compatible. This is why a lot of enthusiasts from either camp also dabble in the other. Some even enjoy both activities equally. This is because most of the core skills of both sports are pretty much the same making it easy for surfers and paddlers to learn both.
As popular as surfing
Although still not quite a household name like Surfing, SUP is nonetheless a very popular sport. SO much so that equipment is very much everywhere. Most sports and adventure shops will almost always have a few boards and gear on the stock. Plus, some equipment—like wetsuits, leashes, etc—are also used by surfers and kayakers makes them even more accessible.
Easy to learn
SUP is a relatively simple sport to learn especially the more relaxed variants. Beginners can start in calmer waters so they can learn the basics without fear of washing out due to big waves. Also, newbies can start learning at their own pace which can be difficult in open waters like in surfing.
More locations than surfing
Originally developed as an alternative way to surf, SUP has gone on to include locations where surfing isn’t typically seen. This includes flat waters, lakes, rivers, dams, and even artificial bodies of water. This opened up many opportunities for paddlers to explore without being limited to the sea.
A total body workout
Standing upright on a board floating in water is by no means easy! The mere act of staying upright requires you to engage your cores and lower body. Add to it the effort exerted to propel yourself with a paddle and you get a very effective full-body workout.
Things you can do on a SUP
Still, need convincing? Here are other things you can do on a SUP:
Because getting around on a stand up paddleboard is much more efficient, going on long-distance trips are within reach. Touring paddleboards has features similar to kayaks that allow paddlers to traverse long distances as well as carry enough gear for the trip. Perfect for people who love long and relaxing trips outdoors.
Keeping in line with the full-body workout theme, SUP Yoga adds a new twist to this classic practice. Balancing on the board while doing traditional yoga poses adds a new element to the routines. The boards are usually wider than typical and have larger non-slip mats in the middle.
Much like boats and kayaks, SUPs are stable floating platforms on calm waters like lakes. This makes them perfect for fishing while out on the water. This opens new locations for fishing that would be otherwise unavailable when shorebound. Paddleboards let you stand which makes for a more natural fishing posture.
Missing the waves but up for something unique? Try out SUP surfing! Surfing is the very reason why SUPs came to be. Easily spot potential waves with the vantage point that standing up gives. Then paddle out quickly and efficiently towards the waves. Ride the waves quickly as you no longer need to get up from the prone position.
Both Surfing and Stand Up Paddleboarding are fun but if you want something more versatile in terms of activities and location, portable, and flexible, SUP is your best bet. So head out to the nearest SUP shop and get your hands on board!