By Tammy Diesner

Stand up paddle boarding, also referred to as stand up paddle surfing or SUP is a relatively new watersport and continues to gain in popularity. It is, as the name suggests, an activity where you stand upright on a surfboard and use a long paddle to move about on top of the water. It can be practiced on calm waters, challenging waves and everything in between. Read on to learn more about how this sport came to be, and what equipment you need to do it.

The Development of Stand up Paddle Boarding

Stand up paddle boarding started in 1960's Hawaii. The "Beach Boys," wanting to supervise and take pictures of their surfing students, and needing an elevated angle to do so, decided to stand atop their surfboards and use their canoe paddles to glide across the water.

Moving forward from the 60's SUP has been adopted by athletes looking for a good core workout. During low surf, surfers were also finding it to be a good training activity and ended up enjoying it so much they entered events and competitions specific to the sport. Some surfers have converted to stand up paddle boarding because they find it easier to see incoming sets of waves. This leads to them actively catching more waves - and how can that be a bad thing? Modern-day riders looking for a challenge are even practicing the sport on rushing rivers, navigating the rapids and other obstacles.

For average folks, SUP has gained popularity as it is much easier to learn than traditional surfing. A quick lesson will have them on their feet, and staying there. An interesting fact to note: women tend to find this sport easier due to their lower centre of gravity.

SUP for beginners can be an excellent lake or calm water sport as it elevates the rider's point of view, making it easier to take in the sights such as wildlife and beautiful marine scenery.

Stand up Paddle Boarding Equipment

The main piece of equipment required for stand up paddle boarding is the board itself. It is possible to use a regular surfboard but it's recommended to get your hands on a board made specifically for SUP. These boards tend to be longer, wider and offer more stability. They usually feature a foam core, surrounded by an epoxy resin. More recently, even inflatable boards have made their way onto the scene.

Next you need a paddle. Most paddles are made from carbon, fibreglass or wood and consist of a blade shaft and handle. When choosing a paddle, look for one approximately 6 inches taller than you.

If you're just starting out at stand up paddle boarding, you'll probably want to rent your gear. Entry-level boards can run around $600 with higher-end boards costing up to $2000. A decent paddle will run you around $100.

Tammy is a writer for Sun Peaks Resort, a popular Canada holiday destination. Sun Peaks offers stand up paddle boarding lessons and tours.

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