When I first saw a Stand Up Paddle board with my own eyes while visiting Hawaii I had an instant connection with the sport. On subsequent trips and other trips to Southern California around 2005 it was clear things were starting to happen. Looking back it is easy to see how SUP has become on of the fastest growing sports in the world. Not only does it allow people from all walks of life, age and locations to experience access to being on the water but it can also offer a full body workout and great balance training.
Is it really new though? Turns out the origins of SUP are not new at all. In fact it is an ancient island civilizations used the practice to stand on a board and be propelled through the water with a stick or paddle. If you were to look at the most recent history, dial back the time machine to the 1940’s/50’s and checkout the original beachboys (surf instructors rather than the Cokomo singing kind ) on Waikiki beach where they used to stand up and paddle out to the break using a one bladed paddle.
This approach provided many benefits including a way to capture photos from an elevated vantage point and take better care of expensive camera equipment. Also SUP offered a way to be on the water and build fitness while waiting for the next swell. The modern day SUP culture has to give big wave surfer Laird Hamilton a lot of credit for raising awareness of the sport. He brought a spotlight to the sport by declaring his love for the discipline while on European tour one year. Drawing on roots that are thousands of years old, stand up paddleboarding is here to stay in the world of modern paddle sports.
In recent years innovative designs and new technology have allowed inflatable stand up paddle boards to enter the market successfully. These inflatables allow for easy transport, air travel, storage, quick set up and take down, and offer access to new paddle locations that do not need to be concerned with chipping or breaking fiberglass. The real winners of this new technology is increased opportunity for people around the world to now access incredible rivers, lakes, oceans and experience the great outdoors.