What You Need to Know Before SUP in Oregon


Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) can be described as an offshoot of surfing. SUP differs from surfing in that it is unlike traditional surfing where the rider waits until a wave to come; stand up paddle boarders and stand on their boards and using a paddle, propels themselves always through the water towards the intended wave.

Believe it or not, the art of SUP originated in Africa, sometimes back where it was common practice to stand while canoeing, to see further in the distance and deeper into the water. The Africans also used this method as a tactic to encroach on their enemies during war times. It was only later in the sixteenth century when Hawaiian surfers would use larger surfboards and use a paddle to assist with speed and balance. In the twentieth century, SUP was regularly used as a form of sea rescue, as lifeguards in Tel-Aviv used this method to get to victims faster and easier. This real method was used again later in the 1940s by two surf instructors in Waikiki, to steady oneself during incoming swells, and termed as a Beach Board Surfing.

In the late 1990’s SUP was officially taught at Hawaii surf schools as the alternate way of surfing when there was insufficient swell. Since then, SUP has become a very popular sport, with the first SUP magazine founded in 2007 called Standup Journal. First documented in the 2013 report, SUP was identified as the very outdoor sport with the most newcomers in United States.

SUP Basics

SUP is a highly skilled sport and requires specific equipment in order to participate.

1. Standup Paddle Board

A paddle board is much thicker than the ordinary surfboard and it comes in different shapes and sizes. Paddle boards are manufactured specifically for this sport and are uniquely designed to support the rider while standing, with the shape of the sides of the board assisting with stability in the water. When starting out, it is advisable for beginners to use a longer and thicker board. As you develop your skill, it will be easier to move to a leaner, more dynamic board. Across the world, there is a range of different SUP board manufacturers with expert advisors that can assist in choosing the paddle board that is the right fit for you.

2. Paddle

A standup Paddle is now then to propel the rider further and faster in the water. Consisting of a blade and shaft with the handle, the standup paddle is similar to that of a canoe paddle. The standup paddle is made of various materials and can differ in size, construction, and shape, depending on what is needed by the individual rider, based on height, weight and skill level. The paddle can be made from wood, aluminum, plastic or carbon fiber. As a beginner, it is important that the paddle used should always be 6 to up to 10 inches above the height of the paddler to assist with more balance. A paddle is commonly held with the two hands with a wide grip and the blade of the paddle tilted away right from the body. The correct way of paddling is by inserting the paddle into the water and ahead of the feet and using the weight of the body to propel the board forward.

3. Leash

A SUP leash keeps the paddleboat attached to the rider, as it is common for paddlers to get knocked over. Usually, it is connected via a velcro strap attached to one’s ankle. The general rule is that the leash should be as long or shorter than the length of the paddle board.

4. Paddle Bag

SUP equipment is rather pricey and you want to ensure that your equipment stays in a good condition. A bag is important for transporting your equipment. It is so easy to damage your board by accidentally bumping it while carrying it from your vehicle to the water. Paddle bags are available in various materials and are generally uniquely designed for the brand and model of your paddle board.

SUP Lessons in Oregon

SUP is a very popular sport in the US and Oregon, in particular. Not only is there a large SUP community but there is also access to various SUP sporting equipment stores, beginners, intermediate and expert level training and a host of social and race events occurring throughout the year. The Sundance Kayak School has a range of training options available to suit your individual needs and can also assist with advice and other important information regarding this sport.

Hard vs Inflatable Paddle Boats

When purchasing your first SUP board, it is important to choose the best board for your skill level, height, weight, and strength. There are many that advocate for the traditional hard SUP board, which is commonly made from lightweight carbon constructions. These boards are generally stiffer, making them great for high level performance and distance sprint events.

Inflatable paddle boards (or iSUPs), on the other hand, are surprisingly technologically advanced and are not as “flimsy” as the name itself would suggest. Many of the inflatables are able to compete with the traditional boards in races and events and are great for traveling, with the minimization of damage and the added advantage of carrying around a lighter piece of equipment. Pump Paddle Boards has a good write up on inflatable paddle boards here.

Hiring a SUP in Oregon

There are many outlets in Oregon where you are able to purchase SUP equipment, but did you know that hiring was also an option? This is a great way to test the sport and see if it is something that you would be willing to take on as a hobby or competitive sport on a long-term basis. The best advice is to test a variety of SUP equipment with different shapes and sizes and to look at using these on different bodies of water. Try visiting online websites for information on equipment hire in this area.

As a sport and social hobby, SUP has taken the world by storm. Web data indicates that there has been a significant growth in the sport, both in the US and abroad. Earlier this year, the International Surfing Association assisted with the global development of SUP and the certification of 150 instructors in 12 different countries. SUP is in constant development in countries like Brazil, Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Belgium and Hong Kong.

Images from Pixabay.

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