This past April, I went down to Charleston, South Carolina, to get my ACA instructor certification for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). So starting this year, SherriKayaks is offering “Try SUP” and “SUP Basics” classes at Wind Lake and Upper Nemahbin Lake.
As a longtime kayaker, I must confess that I wasn’t immediately captivated by the idea of stand-up paddling. It seemed like a lot of work for not much added reward (unless you wanted to learn how to surf). However, as I gave it a try, I found some unexpected benefits. Here are 6 quick advantages of paddling a SUP.
1.) For those who have difficulty getting into and out of kayaks, standing up to paddle may be an easier option. You will need to be able to kneel on your board and then get to a standing position, but that action can be easier for many people than getting into and out of the sitting position in a kayak. You also have the option of sitting on your board and paddling it like a canoe or kayak. You can stand in knee-deep water next to your board and just sit down, and when you want to get off you can just swing your legs over the side in shallow water and stand up.
2.) Paddling an SUP allows you to move around and change positions much more than in a canoe or kayak. You can sit, stand, kneel, or lay on your stomach to paddle a SUP. When standing, you can move your feet around to find a more comfortable position in which to do your strokes.
3.) The SUP boards are generally much lighter than kayaks and so are easier to load on your vehicle and carry to the water. This can be a huge advantage for those who are deterred from paddling by the thought of having to move a canoe or kayak by themselves. Even the “heavy” boards are less than 45 lbs which puts them right in the same range as smaller recreational kayaks.
4.) While all kinds of paddling can give you a good workout, standing and paddling, if done correctly, can give you a really good core workout that is different from what you experience in a kayak. Your leg, back, and stomach muscles have to be engaged constantly to maintain your standing balance, and a good, strong forward stroke is like doing abdominal crunches. Even if, like me, you’re still more of a kayaker at heart, it can be fun to get out and do an activity that works some different muscles. Think of it as cross-training.
5.) Standing up on a board will give you views you have never seen from your canoe or kayak. For me, this was the real advantage of SUP. I was out on Wind Lake this spring on my SUP. I’ve lived and paddled on this lake for over 20 years and I saw some things from my SUP that I had never seen before. The first thing I noticed was how many fish I could see swimming in the water several yards from where I was paddling. I even saw a muskrat swim underwater and into his burrow on the bank. When you are sitting in a canoe or kayak, the glare on the surface of the water prevents you from being able to see sights like these unless they are taking place in the area right next to your cockpit. Later, as I was paddling past an area of cattails, I realized that I was looking over the cattails and seeing things that had always been hidden from me when seated in a canoe or kayak. The new visual perspective made me realize that there were many things I have missed seeing on my home lake despite the hundreds of times I have paddled there.
6.) In summer when it gets hot, it’s easy to jump off your board to cool off and climb back on. With the exception of sit-on-top kayaks, it’s a lot more work to get out of your kayak and then get back in. With recreational kayaks, you generally need to take your boat to shore or at least very shallow water if you want to get out and get back in. If you’re wearing your SUP leash (as you should unlike the photo above), you don’t have to worry about your board blowing out of reach when you jump into the water. When you wet exit from a kayak, you always need to keep a hand on your kayak to prevent that from happening.
If you’re curious about stand-up paddleboarding or have found that canoes and kayaks weren’t the right vehicle for you on the water, consider taking one of the SUP courses. You can find the descriptions and schedules under the “Classes/Trips/etc.” page on the menu to the left.