Surfing-kayaking hybrid goes mainstream

CRESCENT BEACH – With the wind blowing through your hair and the waves beneath your board, there aren’t too many thrilling summer activities like stand-up paddleboard (SUP).

With day trips to the beach becoming more frequent over the summer months, stand-up paddleboarding is one activity where we can enjoy ourselves on the water in the sun.

The sport made a splash in the ’60s in Hawaii when surfing instructors would bring a paddle and stand on their boards while watching their class attempt to ride a wave. The vantage point would allow them to have a better view of all of their students as well as giving them a unique core workout.

After growing in popularity on the Hawaiian Islands, stand-up paddleboarding made its way to the continental United States, where it gained traction in California and Oregon. It has just started to become popular in Canada over the last decade.

David Dreves runs Kawika SUP, a business that teaches people how to kayak. Stand-up palddleboarding has become so big that he now offers beginners courses in it as well.

Dreves, who has Paddle Canada’s Advanced Flatwater SUP instructor certificate, was inspired to add the courses to his business the first time he saw paddleborders north of the border.

“I just decided that that would be a nice avenue to pursue as well; that was kind of up the same line of what I was doing with kayaking. We got into that as a business three years ago as we saw the trends progressing,” Dreves said.

The balance required to stand up on a paddleboard can be difficult and this is one of the main things taught in the beginners’ class, Dreves added.

“It takes a bit of practice, and if people can just relax, that’s probably the biggest thing. The more they relax, the more comfortable they’ll be and the more stable they’ll be on the board,” Dreves said.

The core strength required for paddleboarding has also been known to team up with yoga, and Dreves’ Kawika SUP offers courses in SUP yoga.

“Yoga blends well with stand-up paddleboard because of that balance issue. It adds another element to stand-up paddle, but it also adds another element to the yoga when it comes to just the core muscles involved with keeping that stability on the board,” Dreves said.

Getting started The Gear There are two main styles of paddleboards: the surfboard-style design and the displacement hull. The latter is more of a racing board, allowing its user to travel at faster speeds despite being less stable.

Prices for new boards range from $500 to $2,500 for higher-end boards. However, used and rental equipment is also available.

A paddle is also required for anyone looking to partake in this activity. Like the board, it can be rented, but a new paddle will cost anywhere from $45 to $80.

Paddleboarding is regulated by Transport Canada, which means there are a few safety items required to meet regulations by paddlers when they are on the water.

A PFD (personal flotation device), or a lifejacket, is one of those requirements. The other two are a whistle, in case you stumble into trouble, and 15 feet of rope.

These items can be rented as well, or purchased at Canadian Tire or any store that sells paddleboards.

Where to go Anyone who is looking to paddleboard has the freedom to go wherever there is water. There is no centralized location to participate in this activity, which seems to be growing larger every season.

However, Dreves recommends that anyone who is planning to go in deeper water should take a safety course first. This will give them the basic knowledge of how to prevent any kind of accident as well as how to appropriately respond if an accident does occur.

“The learning curve on paddleboard is pretty short. There’s not that much to know and if they’re in a really sheltered environment, it’s not overly difficult. But if they’re going to pursue it and get into areas where they might get into a bit more trouble, I highly recommend they take a course and get a bit more knowledge,” he said.

Summer is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy this special time of the year. Over the next three months the Now will offer you some unique sporting ways to experience summer without leaving town.