In the world of water sports, one stands above the rest — literally. The sport is known as stand up paddleboarding (SUP for short), and it’s one of the fastest growing activities on the water.
The sport originates, like surfing, from the islands of Hawaii, where surf instructors would stand on their surfboards to manage large groups of students. Standing on the board gave them a higher viewpoint, and the addition of a paddle allowed them to move around quickly and efficiently.
Since then, it has spread in popularity to almost any body of water that will support it. Unlike surfing, SUP doesn’t require waves or swells because the paddle and the paddler provide the power. From ocean waves and major rivers, to simple lakes and ponds, SUP fits right into any location, making the sport very convenient for people who don’t have time to escape civilization.
Being a proud resident of Oregon, I can say that throughout the state, SUP has found fans. In Portland, many SUPers cruise up and down the Willamette River in early evenings or on sunny weekends. At the coast, many SUPers hit up the local surf areas, which results in surfers and SUPers taking up a friendly rivalry about which sport requires more skill, but they still enjoy the cold waves together.
However, Bend, Ore., holds the title of most SUPers in the region. Up in the high desert, almost every evening the Deschutes River, which runs through Bend, is filled with SUPers of all ages. It has quickly become the unofficial city pastime, and all skill levels are welcomed.
In a world of action-filled, heart-racing sports, SUP is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and at your own pace. The paddler can go as fast or slow as he or she wants to. You can weave and dodge, fight your way upstream or simply glide and enjoy the scenery.
“I loved being on the water. I had done some surfing in the past, but when I came to Bend I saw SUP for the first time and I was hooked,” says Hank Hill, a kayak and SUP instructor at Tumalo Creek. “The sport is really easy to learn, making it accessible for all ages.”
However, with every sport there are the extremes and some SUPers have taken their boards down Class II and III rapids.
Get Out and Try It!
“SUP is a sport I highly recommend,” Hank says with a smile. “It’s the fastest growing water sport today, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.”
Stand up paddleboarding is easy to learn and fun to do. So the next time you’re bored, go out and try it. Look around and check with kayak and water sports shops to see if they offer SUP classes or programs, and give it a try. While SUP might not be at the Summit, it is a great way to get outdoors, get moving and get in great shape for the 2013 Jamboree.