Pierce Brosnan, Lewis Hamilton and Cameron Diaz may have brought the world's attention to stand up paddle boarding (SUP) by exposing their buffed bodies on holiday for the paparazzi, but stressed out executives and outdoor lovers are also taking to Australia's waves with board and paddle in hand in record numbers.
“Being on the water in any capacity offers valuable headspace, thinking time, can cure bad moods, tiredness I find it provides great problem-solving time as it provides clarity” says Sophie Morgan of Oz Paddle in Sydney. Sophie first tried paddle boarding in Europe in 2007 and now incorporates SUP into her fitness classes on offer at Woolloomooloo and Rose Bay.
“If done correctly, you will work your whole body and most of the work is within your core area. It is excellent strength work as you are moving along the water using the power of your body to move the weight of your body and the board.”
Think of a stand up paddleboard like a windsurfer without the sail. Paddle boarders stand in the centre of the board and use a long paddle with handle to navigate their way across the water. It is far easier to pick up than surfing, not as strenuous as wind surfing and excellent for core muscles and stability.
Stand up paddle boarding originated mainly in Hawaii in the 1950s and 1960s when surfers used longer boards and outrigger paddles were used to navigate the surf waves. One of the reasons behind the new found popularity of SUP is that anyone can give it a go, but be warned, wind is not your friend. The degree of difficulty increases on choppy waters and guidance may be required.
“My advice for first timers is look at wind charts and try it on a calm day and you will love it. If you enjoy being on the water, try kayaking too, the benefits are even greater” says Sophie who says SUP is about strength not cardio.
“Nowadays, you can buy or hire boards that are extremely stable and anyone can stand on them. A carbon paddle is always better as it's lighter. We recommend a life jacket, especially if in the harbour, but it is generally not compulsory on waterways as surprisingly for such an easy sport for first timers to try there are no current laws that require you to wear lifejackets.”
Hard core stand up paddle boarders who conquer the sport in the surf may go on to do deep ocean paddle boarding. And some people, like Bart de Zwart, may attempt to create or break records. De Zwart paddled a stand up paddle board from Hawaii's Big Island to Kauai island, a three hundred mile journey. It took him five days and he did the whole journey unsupported (complete with GPS, flares, inflatable mattress and food).
You don't have to go to extremes to enjoy the benefits of stand up paddle boarding. Most capital cities offer SUP schools and stand up paddleboard hire. If you are looking for a fun workout that is cheap, accessible and gets you outdoors away from the computer then SUP is certainly worth trying.
STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING SCHOOLS AND HIRE IN AUSTRALIA
Oz Paddle in Rose Bay have stand up paddle boards for hire and also offer instruction.
Manly Surf School offers private and group SUP lessons in Manly, Narrabeen and Balmoral.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding in St Kilda has board hire and group lessons at St Kilda Pier and St Kilda Main Beach.
River Life offers lessons and hire and a two and a half hour Stand Up Paddle Board Coffee and Cake Adventure for $79 on Brisbane River.