Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding traces its roots back to Waikiki, Oahu in Hawaii. Its origins stem from combining the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe with the surf board. Stand Up Paddle boarding proved to be a great way to catch and ride the gentle rollers of the South Shore. Nowadays, ironmen such as Laird Hamilton and Garrett McNamara stroke into Goliath sized waves on the North Shores of Maui and Oahu or anywhere else they can find them on their SUP boards. Most of us, however, prefer to simply get a decent workout and ride some of our own gentle local rollers.
The beauty of learning to SUP is that it can be done on any flat, calm body of water. Maybe you’ve already taken this step, but now you’d like to bring it to the ocean and attempt to surf on your Stand Up Paddle board. With some basic instruction, you will be on your way to not only paddling out in the ocean, but catching waves as well.
The first challenge is learning to get out and establish your sea legs. The ocean is the most dynamic environment on earth. Everything is constantly moving, and the key is to let go and feel that movement beneath you. Instead of struggling to fight and resist the movement, you will learn to go with it, allowing the ocean to ebb and flow under your feet and your Stand Up Paddle board. Using similar paddling techniques and core muscles, you will quickly enjoy the feeling of rising up, over, and down the backs of the slow-rolling open ocean swells.
Once you’ve reached a stable comfort level paddling in the ocean, you will be taught how to read the waves. For someone that already surfs, this may come naturally. For those that haven’t, it will be a skill that comes with time and patience. There are methods that you will learn which will be helpful for predicting breaking waves, where to be as they approach, and how to catch them. Like riding a bicycle, once you’re moving on your board, you will feel an increased sense of stability that comes with your momentum. The thrill of sliding down the face of a breaking wave is intoxicating and addictive. If this is your first time gliding along like the dolphins or pelicans, be prepared to spend the rest of your life enjoying it as they do. You will gain an appreciation for the ocean, wave riding, and life, like never before!