They say it’s the fastest growing sport in the world – and it may well be. Certainly it has come a very very long way in the last five years. Rewind to the middle of last decade and it wasn’t even on the map, but now there are millions of participants worldwide, international competition circuits, hundreds of different brands, and discussion regarding Olympic recognition. And this growth is still accelerating, as the sport finds ever more niches and areas to colonise. This sheer versatility is the fundamental reason why the sport is not just some passing fad – it works for so many different reasons, and on so many levels.
Although it originated (in its modern form) from the surfing community, it is absolutely not just about waves. Its true potential is more akin to canoeing or kayaking. Yes, some people take their kayaks out into the surf – but a huge proportion of kayak owners don’t. Some race, some go exploring, some fish from them, others just use them for fitness. Some do long distance, or ride white water, some like to do tricks. Some use them for just getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, while for others it’s more of a social thing; a means to meet up with other like-minded people. And for many, it’s simply a bach beach toy for the family in the summer…
Well, paddle-boarding can do all those things – yet it offers an extra dimension too. No disrespect to our canoeing brethren, but actually, for a lot of people, sitting down and paddling around is actually quite boring. You get a wet bum, and if your technique isn’t good, often end up with a bad back. (And how heavy are those kayaks???). Whereas stand-up paddleboarding, even if you’re going slowly, delivers a much more extensive workout with much less risk of injury – and there’s something hypnotically pleasant about it too. You’re higher off the water because you’re standing, so you have a much better view all round. And you can look down into it more, getting a better view of the bottom if you’re in clear shallow water, or just gazing at the patterns and sparkles of the ripples. Just enjoying the sensation of gliding over the water, and the hypnotic, mesmeric effect of watching the water passing under the nose of the board.
Whatever avenues you choose to explore with the sport, the satisfaction factor never goes away. Even if it’s just a gentle cruise around the lake or harbour, you feel good after a paddle-board session in a way that very few other sports can offer, despite what seems like relatively low levels of actual effort and adrenalin rush. Indeed, there’s a theory that because your core muscles are having to work continuously while you’re paddle-boarding (and balance is actually a very complicated neuromuscular function so there are a lot of synapses firing), this everpresent effort is triggering extra endorphins, those feel-good chemicals for the brain.
So while surfing will always be a part of the paddleboarding scene, the cruising, exploring, racing, fishing, family fun & fitness aspects are all just as relevant, and so much more accessible with a board that you can easily carry around, and toss up onto the roofrack at the end of the day (or even throw into the car boot, if it’s an inflatable board).
Better still, it’s easy. It’s more akin to learning to ride a bike than learning to surf – once you’ve stood up for the first time, you’ve got it. Everything after that is simply refinement. Which also means it’s highly accessible; if you can stand up, then you can stand up paddleboard. Be you young, old, fat, thin, 20kg or 120kg, in perfect health or in need of a gentle yet stimulating form of exercise to get you back into good health, it’s just a case of finding the right paddleboard for your requirements.
Here in New Zealand we’re blessed with more miles of coastline than mainland USA, and some incredible inland waters to explore too. Paddleboards are the perfect craft for getting out there and making the most of it all. Hopefully the articles in our website will give you a good idea as to where the sport is at here in New Zealand, and inspire you to get started. Get out there and give it a go – you won’t regret it. Indeed, it may even change your life.
On the following pages you’ll find all you need to know about the sport:
How to get started
A brief guide on how to get into this great sport…
Types of SUP
The many and varied faces of the sport…
A concise guide to understanding and choosing your board, paddle and other accessories
The SUP Safe Surf Code
A few golden rules to follow so as not to get hurt, or do damage to anyone else, if you are planning on going SUP surfing…
Some very important information about choosing the right equipment and environment to ensure that you SUP safely…
A list of SUP retailers in New Zealand
SUP Schools and Instructors
The accredited and recognised SUP schools in New Zealand – places where you will get high quality professional and safe instruction and advice
Become a SUP Instructor
If you’d like to learn about how to teach SUP properly and professionally, find out more here…