Paddleboard It Up!

Part surfboard, part kayak: pure challenge

Those who like to play on their feet may want to try stand-up paddleboarding.  While paddleboarding is a close relative of both kayaking and surfing, it offers more of a workout than kayaking but is much easier to master than surfing.

While the origins of paddleboarding can be traced to Hawaii and that state’s surfing culture, the sport’s popularity has increased rapidly in recent years, and it is now a favored activity almost anywhere that water can be found. Thanks to the introduction of flat bottom and touring models, paddleboarding has recently become very popular on calm inland waters.

As with kayaks, wider paddleboards are more stable than narrow boards, while narrow boards are faster. To avoid learning frustration, it’s best to start with a wide board. Most paddleboards have a deck pad on top that provides good traction for your feet. The newest boards from Pelican International also have a dry hatch, bungee cords, carrying handles, and a flexible rubber fin that enhances stability.

Paddle choice will depend on your height. You should choose a paddle that’s six to ten inches taller than you. Most paddles include a central angle or elbow to keep the blade correctly positioned in the water.

Mounting and riding a stand-up paddleboard requires a bit of finesse. The paddle can be used as an outrigger to provide stability while climbing aboard. The novice paddler may want to bring a friend along to help steady the board. When paddling, your feet should be about two feet apart and centered between the rails. Your knees should be slightly bent and your toes should be pointing toward the front of the board.  Your first attempt is best made on calm water, as it will be easier to stabilize the board in mild conditions.

Like other activities that require practice and skill development, stand-up paddleboarding returns dividends for those who master the sport. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of skimming rapidly and quietly across an expanse of open water under your own power and on your feet.

Note: Please make sure you are wearing the proper equipment and consider your safety before particpating.

-Paddle Bum

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