What’s UP? This summer, test your balance on the water

SUP, of course, stands for Stand Up Paddleboarding, and it’s evolved into a legitimate sport that has experienced explosive growth over the last few years—in fact, it’s one of the fastest growing boardsports in the world.

To SUP, you do exactly what it sounds like you’re supposed to do: stand up on a board (it looks like a big, wide surfboard) and paddle with what is essentially a long canoe paddle. Offering a full body cardio and muscular workout, SUP also tests and trains core strength and balance. Another benefit? You have a higher vantage point to admire the beauty of your surroundings!

Why it’s cool

SUP is a subclass of paddleboarding, a broader concept that also includes the use of arms while kneeling, lying or standing on a narrow and long paddleboard to move around in the water.

Paddleboarding has its roots in Africa, South America, and the ancient Polynesian culture. Historians believe that wooden paddleboards were used by 16th-century natives to move from one place to another, and also to catch waves for fun.

What you’ll need

Beginner paddleboarders should choose a wider, longer and thicker board. This will offer the greatest stability to learn the paddle board basics on a flat body of water. As you gain experience, you can progress to a smaller paddle board.

The most versatile SUP boards can be used for several SUP activities including: SUP yoga, SUP fishing, SUP touring and SUP surfing.

Stand Up Paddles come in a variety of constructions including: plastic, aluminum, wood and carbon fibre. All of these constructions come with a variety of handles, blades and shaft shapes. The general rule is that the paddle used with your paddle board should always be 6 to 10 inches above the height of the paddler. Size your paddle on the longer side for flat water use and the shorter side for use in the surf. The blade is typically bent at a slight angle to the shaft to allow for more forward reach when taking a stroke.

Offering a full body cardio and muscular workout, SUP also tests and trains core strength and balance. Another benefit? You have a higher vantage point to admire the beauty of your surroundings!

SUP Leash

A SUP Leash keeps your paddle board attached to you with a Velcro strap around your ankle (or calf). Leashes come in a variety of sizes, and the general rule is to use a leash around the same size or slightly smaller than your board. In the event of a fall, currents and winds can quickly sweep your paddle board away from you—and in higher swells, your board becomes a lethal weapon when carried with the force of a strong wave. Always remember to use your leash!

Where to try it

Here in Mississauga, The Mississauga Canoe Club, in co-operation with the City of Mississauga delivers a program for the novice or experienced paddler who is intrigued by the SUP phenomenon. All the necessary equipment is provided for each SUP session, including the board, paddle and life jackets. If you have your own equipment, you are more than welcome to bring it and use it during the session, but it’s not necessary.

Derek Schrotter, of Paddle Sport Performance, teaches more than 200 SUP students a week in the summer months, and says it’s a great idea to join a class if you’re just starting out.

Schrotter, a former Olympian and now Canadian Director of the World Paddle Association for Stand Up Paddleboarding, says “it can be intimidating when you first get out on the water. We make sure you know you’re completely safe and secure so that you can focus on technique and the experience.”

His favourite part of teaching SUP?

“I get to do what I love while being outside,” he says, “and I especially love watching people enjoy the sport—and then come back again and again.”

by Kristy Elik

Local Links

Mississauga Canoe Club
mississaugacanoeclub.ca

Paddle Sport Performance
pspsupspecialists.com

The Paddle Coach
thepaddlecoach.com

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