To be honest, I had a false start when trying to stand up paddle.
A friend very kindly took me out for a paddle in the ocean. However it was a pretty chilly and choppy day and I wasn’t that keen to fall in without a wet-suit. A few months later I drifted down the glassy Ria Formosa, with a wintry sunset exploding under the clouds behind me. Fish darted through the crystal clear water below and I was hooked.
So here is a little tip – start your first stand up paddle (SUP) experience with as little wind as possible and you’ll love it. Here are five reasons to get excited about SUP.
1. Get fit!
If you’re looking for a new way to get fit, you’ve found it! Have a look at any of the people involved in Stand Up Paddle and there’s one common thing you’ll find. They’re all pretty fit!
Stand Up Paddling is a fantastic workout as it excercises all your major muscle groups:
- your core
- and your legs.
Basically, if you SUP regularly you’ll get fit and the great thing about it, is its a low impact sport. All ages enjoy SUP, from kids right through to the older crowd. No jarring on your bones like running, no full impact like rugby. You can push yourself as fast as you want, or you can drift with the elements, the choice is yours.
2. Soak away the stress.
We all need to get away from the daily grind and SUP is the perfect vehicle to transport your mind into a state of calm. The excercise combined with being fully immersed in a foreign environment can focus you into a near meditative state. The result of an hour’s paddle can be truly and powerfully calming.
3. A new perspective on travel
Apart from seeing your home town through a fresh, new lens, you’ll have a new-found ability to explore rivers, lakes and oceans. Soon you’ll find yourself travelling to stretches of water further afield and who knows, you could end up in the Algarve paddling into exotic coastal caves or stroking down the Spanish/Portuguese border under a zipline.
4. You can compete
People are making a career out of stand up paddling. You can race and get sponsorship like surfing (or football but that’s on another level already!). There is even a Stand Up Paddle World Tour called the “Waterman League”. You could also become a certified SUP instructor or open up a SUP school like we have. Alternatively you could belong to a SUP Club and have fun with new friends on a weekly basis.
5. SUP is a highly versatile sport
Stand Up Paddle has evolved since it regained popularity in the late 90’s. Nowadays there are different disciplines with boards evolving to match each and every one. Check out this variety of activities:
- Touring. Strap your camping gear on board and paddle off for a night outdoors or simply explore your local dam at sunrise. The possibilities are endless but the nature of the game is to explore.
- Surfing. Nothing can quite beat the thrill of gliding down the face of a wave, bottom turning and powering off the top. Stand Up Paddle boards are longer than surfboards and have a powerful paddle – these two factors make it ten times easier to catch a wave than a surfer. Use this super-power with respect and share the waves.
- Racing. If you’re competitive or need a mission to train for, get involved in your local SUP races. You may not believe this but there is already a SUP World Tour. It’s not quite up to the standards of the surfing one yet but it’s rapidly getting there. SUP Racer is a great blog to get initiated.
- Downwinding. This is can be one of the most extreme aspects of the sport. On a windy day, paddle out into a heaving ocean and paddle with the wind, surfing “bumps” as you go. It’s tough, but seriously rewarding.
- Yoga. People practice yoga on stand up paddle boards which adds a brand new liquid dimension to the practice.
- SUP Fitness. There are fitness programmes out there that use paddle boards. Paddle FIT is one.
6. Check out the wildlife
Floating on remote expanses of water may look pretty boring but you’ll be amazed at the life forms you’ll encounter. As you probably know there are some crazy videos on YouTube and some SUP videos are right up there with the craziest. There is even a SUPing pig in Hawaii.
However, you’ll be able to view tons of birds, fish and other interesting creatures. Get a camera and document them all!
Do you need any more reasons to jump on a stand up paddle board?