Why You Should Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

reasons to SUPSUPs have been an area of a lot of debate for surfers over the past few years.  While the popularity of the newly emerging sport is unquestionable, the ethics of wave sharing and skill level of the average SUPer have come under question.  This article takes a look at some of the positive aspects of the stand up paddle boards in hopes of encouraging you to give them a try.  After all, true watermen enjoy the ocean in a variety of ways.


Why You Should Stand Up Paddle


1. It Is Flat: Wave conditions are one of the best reasons to have a diverse quiver of wave riding vehicles.  SUPs can be used in a wide range of conditions, (guys have ridden 20ft Teahupoo on them) but noting else can be ridden when it is 0ft.  If the only time you ever rode your SUP was when there was absolutely no wave action, you would easily get between 20-50 days a year of quality SUPing. 

By paddling around on a SUP, you will get to enjoy the ocean, the sun and if you live in a reef populated area, you can check out whats underneath where you normally surf.  


2. Pivoting Around The Paddle: By far the coolest aspect of the SUP is the paddle.  While it has a ton of benefit for getting speed, the real fun comes in using it to surf.  Typically SUPs are big and hard to maneuver.  However, when you dig the paddle in to the wate, you create a pivot point that allows you change direction quickly.  Many surfers do this with their hands when surfing, but the paddle allows you a much larger range. 


You can put it in the water on the inside of a cutback to pivot quickly or you can put it into the face to stall.  You can go over shoulder, under the elbow, through the armpit in a squat position, etc.  There is a ton of style and versatility to using the paddle and it is new enough that cool ways are being discovered all the time.  When you do eventually try SUPing, do yourself a favor and when you catch a wave, don't just hold your paddle like a suitcase... use it, you'll be stoked.


3. Full Body Workout: SUPing works your legs, arms, back and most importantly core.  By paddling up the coast a few miles you can get a serious workout.  The constant instability of the board allows the workout to challenge all of the smaller muscle groups in your body.  Surfing can be a great workout, but SUPing always is.  It draws from many of the aspects of crew, which is one of the most difficult competitive sports.  The coolest thing about a SUP workout is that as much as it hurts the next day, it is pretty fun and doesn't feel like a workout.  By taking a 2-5 mile paddle up and down the coast, you'll combine a full body workout with a big of sightseeing and you might even bump into something cool (like one SUPer off the coast of San O did in July 2010).


4. SUPs Can Be Used Everywhere: Like most surfers, I plan my vacations around coastlines.  I love camping, but I can't function without water.  SUPing has recently emerged as a great way to enjoy all parts of the world.  Along with the ocean, people are riding SUPs in rivers, lakes, harbors, streams, reservoirs, fountains etc. 


By putting a little time into getting good at SUPing on the ocean, you will open up a whole new realm of areas to explore.  Imagine packing up a wetbag with your camping gear and taking a trip across a mountain lake at 10,000ft elevation.  


5. The Legends Love SUPing: I'm sure you've noticed the trend in legends of surfing hopping over towards SUPs.  Laird Hamilton, Gerry Lope, Rusty Preisendorfe, Jeff Clark, Mikey Munoz, Dave Daum and the list goes on.  These guys have all experienced the best of surfing and switched over to SUPs.  While we're not encouraging you to hop on a bandwagon, when a group of pioneers and legends all start to move in a direction, it is safe to bet that there is some substance to it. 


Part of the trend might have to do that SUPing is friendlier to the body.  Surfing puts a lot of strain on the back and requires a lot of effort to catch a wave and pop up.  SUPing gives the rider more power and by starting in a standing position, it allows more freedom in how to engage the wave.  SUPs coming in a 10ft plus also offer a lot of wave catching ability, so much like longboards, they are great for a mellow session.  If the lengends of the sport are moving in a SUP direction, its a safe bet that one day you might too, (just like you eventually caved and got a quad) so you might as well give it a try now so you can slowly start enjoying it more and more as you hit your golden years.


Conclusion: A properly matched surfbaord should allow a surfer to enjoy riding it in a wide range of conditions.  The more boards you have, the more specific each one can be, but every board will offer its own unique benefits.  SUPs offer surfers a few features that no other board does and because of that, they are a great addition to a quiver. 

As you learn more about SUPs you'll find that there are actually a few sub-genres of the SUP, from the distance paddler to the noserider, the maneuverable hybrid and the flatwater board.  The more types of boards you surf, the more fun you'll have and you might just find you really like a board.  You'll never know if you don't try.


Read our article on the cons of SUPing: Why You Shouldn't SUP


Are there any other reasons you like SUPs?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

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