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Stand-Up Paddle Surfing

© Courtesy of Yolo Board, Photo by Romona Robbins
Here's how to get started in the hot sport of paddle surfing.

From Waikiki to Manhattan, stand-up paddle surfing (known as SUP) is the new “it” water sport for good reason: Once you’re equipped with a longboard and a paddle, you’ll need little else. SUP can be as strenuous or as relaxing as you’d like, and the sport isn’t limited to the ocean: Prime destinations include lakes and rivers. In the early 1960s, the infamous Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their longboards and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. In their honor, “Beach Boy surfing” has become another name for SUP. Whether you take a lesson while visiting a coastal city or unwind with a slow paddle after work, you’ll find that this sport has legs.

Your investment

New SUP board setups run from $1,100 to $2,100-plus.

Engineered for stability

Most boards use glass-reinforced plastic (epoxy resin) construction, with an expanded polystyrene foam core.

Buckle up

The U.S. Coast Guard classifies SUP boards as vessels. As a result, SUP riders must wear a personal flotation device when paddling in certain areas.

Beginner’s specs

An all-around SUP board is usually at least 30 inches wide, and the typical length for a beginner is 11 to 12 feet. Lighter riders may be able to start on a shorter board. A wide nose, a wide tail and considerable length, width and thickness make for a very stable and forgiving board.

To the core

SUP surfing is considered a major workout for an athlete’s core, so many surfers, skiers and snowboarders paddle surf during their off-seasons.

Location, location, location

If you’re far from Hawaii or SoCal, don’t despair. Rent a paddleboard, participate in a group outing or take a beginner’s class after work at locations such as Pier 40 in Manhattan, North Avenue Beach in Chicago or West Lake Union in Seattle.

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