Friday, September 7, 2012

New thing #43: Stand Up Paddling

 What's SUP!
Stand up paddling (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports, probably because it's not hard and you don't need a ton of equipment. I've been noticing people out on our lake with paddle boards and thought it looked like fun. Old men, pregnant women and dogs have all glided past our dock with ease. It wasn't long before my buddies at Groupon made me an offer I couldn't refuse - a paddle board lesson for three people taught by Urban Wave SUP. Sarah and Chani started the business earlier this year, and they'll bring everything you need to get the fun started.

Senior and The Girl joined me for our early morning lesson. The air was cool; the lake was calm and quiet. Chani showed up right on time and unloaded a variety of boards. She has a fun surfer vibe and set us right at ease. The 90-minute lesson starts on land, where you learn some basic rules and practice holding the paddle correctly. 
Before long we were in the water and ready to practice what we'd learned. 

We attached leashes to our ankles and The Girl bungeed a lobster to the front of her board for luck. You start out on your knees, and then push yourself up to a standing position. I thought this would be the hardest part, but it was actually pretty easy and we all popped right up. Chani continued to give us tips as she led us out into the lake, like how to brace yourself to shift your weight so your toes don't fall asleep from the death grip they have on the board. The stroke you use while paddling is different than propelling a kayak or a canoe. You keep your arms straighter and use your core to gain momentum. If you do it right it's a great workout.

After a few minutes, both Senior and The Girl really got the hang of it. I, on the other hand, couldn't get rid of my jelly legs. They both skimmed around the lake, executing turns and slicing through the shallows, while I continued to wobble and paddle around in circles, cursing all those old men and pregnant women and their dogs. I only fell once, somehow managing to end up sitting on the board instead of touching the icky lake bottom, but I never felt relaxed and was getting pretty frustrated. Then Chani suggested I trade boards with Senior, who had been paddling a longer, heavier board. Eureka! It made a world of difference and I immediately began to enjoy myself. SUP frees you from the confines of the canoe or kayak. You can turn on a dime or in a lazy circles, skip over the wake of a passing boat, streak across the bay or pause to watch the Bluegills swimming beneath you. You can stand, sit, kneel or just lie down and float. It's about the most versatile water toy I've ever tried.

By the end of the lesson we were considering buying boards and starting our own SUP community. But a good board isn't cheap, and you have to have a place to store it. Renting will work better for us for now, especially since the girls at Urban Wave will deliver the rental boards to our door. So keep your eyes open, we might be cruising by your dock one of these days.


  1. Thanks Jess for writing such a great blog! Your family was a lot of fun and look forward to seeing the progress on your new lake home! Proud of you for charging and completing such a great bucket list-Chani

  2. Hey Chani, I'm so glad we tried this because it was great fun! I've been telling everyone I know to contact you and see for themselves. Check back for more updates, I'm always adding stuff to the blog (like in the 4th paragraph above)

  3. Nice article which highlights how accessible paddle boarding is and how people of all ages can do it. Thanks.