Stand up paddleboarding has become one of the fastest-growing watersports around, and as it’s grown, the sport has evolved to include several variations on simply standing and paddling. Whether you’ve tried stand up paddleboarding a few times and want to see all it has to offer or you’ve been doing it for years and are ready for a new challenge, there are plenty of other things you can do on your SUP.
If you’ve had a pleasant time paddling around in calm lakes, slow-moving rivers, and gulf shores, try your hand at catching a wave on your SUP. Although the sport has its origins in the surf culture, it’s spread so far from regions where big waves rule the beach that many people have never tried surfing with their board.
SUPs are great for catching smaller waves; the paddles make it easier to get up to speed so you don’t miss them when they come. This allows you to hit the wave earlier in its formation, giving you a much longer ride in. Furthermore, standing up gives you more freedom to see sets as they roll in.
It’s one thing to paddle just off the banks of deep, half-mile-wide rivers, but if you’re looking for a bit more excitement, consider paddleboarding whitewater river rapids. Some advanced paddlers are now testing their skills in rapids as high as Class III.
The advantage of standing on a paddleboard is that you have a higher vantage point to see the rapids ahead and plan the best course. Don’t try this with a normal SUP. You’ll need a shorter, more maneuverable board specifically designed for whitewater, with shorter plastic fins that are harder to snap.
As the sport grew and more stand up paddlers felt they had developed skills they wanted to show off, stand up paddleboard races inevitably became one of the best ways to show off speed and board-handling abilities. Now there are hundreds of competitions every year in countries all over the world.
These races may fall into the technical category, in which paddlers are expected to make their way through five or so kilometers of near-shore surf to demonstrate how well they can handle the board and their stand up paddles. This is often regarded as one of the best measures of SUP abilities. Other races may be roughly the same distance but arranged in a pattern outside the surf line where waters are calmer.
Often, races may entail some aspects of SUP surfing, too.
If short sprints and technical paddling aren’t quite your style, you could try long-distance stand up paddleboarding. Like any endurance sport, this requires mental fortitude as well as physical fitness. Traveling far in a canoe or kayak is one thing—you’re sitting the whole time. But try paddling 10 miles on a paddleboard, and you’ll find it’s a new challenge to stay stable the whole time.
Often, races that focus on long distances have rules in place that require any paddler who falls to stand back up within five paddle strokes, as remaining standing is a large part of these races.
If you’ve been using your SUP in the same body of water for years, consider expanding your reach. Whether it’s river tributaries, ocean inlets, or any other unexplored waters, try thinking of your SUP as a way to discover new areas.
Fitness and Workouts
One of the newest trends within the SUP community is to get out of the gym and start doing your yoga workouts on the board. This takes balance and focus to a new level, giving your core workout an additional mental hurdle to jump over. If yoga isn’t your strong suit, try other workout routines, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and squats to change up your typical exercise regimen.
If you’re in the Rhode Island area, be sure to check out Eastern Mountain Sports Kayak School. We offer SUP instructional courses, tours, and SUP fitness classes.
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