Stand up paddling is a sport which involves standing up on a large surfboard and propelling it forward using a single bladed paddle. It was started by the Waikiki Beach Boys, who are also credited with keeping surfing alive in Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Beach Boys were famous for their welcoming attitude and willingness to teach tourists to surf and use outrigger canoes. In the 1960s, they started supervising their students standing on longboards, using outrigger paddles to move around and get onto waves. The idea of using a paddle with a surfboard faded away for a while, but it made a comeback in the early noughties, when some leading Hawaiian surfers used it as a form of training. The stand up paddleboard (SUP) hasn’t looked back since. A wide range of purpose built boards and paddles have been created, and the sport has now expanded into both flat and white water environments.
Most SUP measurements are given in feet. SUPs used in the surf, where shorter is better, are usually between 9 and 12 feet in length. That’s around 2.7 to 3.4 metres long. Flat water boards are often longer than that and racing models can get up to 14 feet, which is about 4.3 metres.
SUPs are designed to carry one person, but that hasn’t stopped people trying to see how many they can get on board. It isn’t unusual to see young kids and dogs along for the ride.