Stand up paddle boarding consists of moving upright on a board over the water using an oar to power our movement. No swell is necessary to practice, on the contrary, it is practiced in calm waters. Because it is an easy sport, without great risks or efforts, it is very versatile. It can be practiced as a leisure activity, for professional competitions or as additional training.
As a sport, it originated in the 1960s among Hawaiian surfers on the beach at Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii. However, it did not become popular until the late 1990s, and on the shores of South America only in the last decade.
In large part we owe its prominence in the watersports world to Hawaiian surfers like Dave Kalama or Laird Hamilton; who transformed this training modality of surfing into a challenging, competitive sport.
THE ADVANTAGES OF THE STAND-UP PADDLE
As a water sport, stand-up paddling is particularly attractive for those who want to enjoy cruising across the water and relax while admiring the surroundings. So it is ideal to connect with nature, water, sun, sea breeze; and stay fit without much effort. This is the great advantage for newcomers to this sport, you don't have to fight big waves and you don't have to be physically strong. Therefore, this sport is classified as low impact.
It can be performed on lakes, rivers and in the sea in calm waters when there is no strong wind. Another great advantage is its simplicity, which makes it accessible to all ages (even for dogs, there is the SUP Dog modality!) and does not require great physical fitness.
Stand-up paddling is one of the water sports that can be practiced at any time of the year, in summer as well as in winter.
So it is clear to see that SUP is a complete sport that combines adventure, leisure and physical activity and thus our serotonin, endorphin; and increases dopamine levels. The substances that our brain produces for well-being, satisfaction, enjoyment and relaxation.
THE EQUIPMENT NECESSARY TO PERFORM STAND-UP PADDLE
In order to be able to practice this sport, a special stand-up paddle board is required; which is wider and heavier compared to a normal surfboard, which makes it more stable.
This board has a harness or leash; to attach it to the ankle and not be able to lose it in the water or drown, and of course a carbon fiber oar.
There are currently different types of SUP boards, which differ in size, volume and curvature. The variety of models comes from the constant adaptation to the specific SUP modality that is practiced. There are boards similar to surfboards, SUP Race for competitions, but also versions for rivers, yoga (for fitness, pilates or yoga) touring for long distances and all-round, ideal to practice any type of SUP.
The boards can be inflatable or rigid. Although a rigid board is the most common, made from Eposey, fiberglass and polyester with carbon fiber, the inflatable boards can also be a good choice; due to their ease of transport and their longevity.
Last but not least, it is necessary to talk about the safety equipment. A life jacket, a wetsuit for cold water; a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun and to prevent sunstroke or unwanted burns are part of this.
And so you learn to stand up on the board, master your course and be able to turn, which is no small feat!
YOUR FIRST CLASS IN STAND-UP PADDLE
As with all disciplines practiced in the sea, it is advisable to take a few lessons with a specialized teacher before the first time; which shows you how to perform the necessary movements efficiently. So pushing off, staying on the board, steering it in the desired direction, being able to rotate the board by rowing, etc.
In a first SUP lesson, the instructor shows how to master the board properly, whether on the river bank or in the sand. It is explained which is the best place to kneel down (in the center of the board) and at the same time hold the oar (at the top); to push off at the moment of getting up on the board.
It is also explained before you go into the water how best to hold the board in the water; a certain depth is required so that the fin does not hit the bottom.
It is important to learn how to kneel on the board and move your arms to row; because the positioning of the arms and the control of the rudder affect the direction in which the board moves. Once you master this part, you can confidently step onto the board, first with one foot and then the other; and so we practice paddle surf.
Later, it is necessary to learn how to turn on the board, which requires a series of precise movements. Like stepping backwards to raise the tip of the board so that a lateral movement of the oar turns the board.
And that's how you learn to move on the board, determine your direction and make turns, which is no small matter!
THE EXERCISE AND CONTROL OF BALANCE IN WATER
Normally you can already apply everything you have learned on land in the water in the first class. Depending on how much experience you already have, or not, you can progress faster or slower.
Because to be honest, even if the stand-up paddle board does not involve any great difficulties, it does not mean that you do not need a certain physical control and that our body is not used to it. So it can be that our feet hurt us if we are not used to water sports or we suffer from tension. This is because our nervous system locks up when sensing the unfamiliar terrain.
Balance on the water's surface requires some stability and physical strength, but both can be achieved with practice, like anything in this life. The key is to stay as relaxed as possible while standing upright on the board and looking at the horizon.
In the end, the class is a lot easier than it seems, or at least entertaining and fun. From there you will feel you will discover how exciting it is to walk over the water.