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What’s SUP, dude?

June 13, 2010

SUP stand-up paddle board Norm Hann TofinoI finally got to try out a SUP – a Stand-Up Paddleboard. A lot of my adventure racing friends have been raving about them these last couple of years.

Norm Hann was our instructor – giving us a chance to try out something new, as well as to find out about a new and different way of getting a core workout. (The core muscles are all of the big muscles in the centre of your body – stomach, back, glutes – that support and stabilize the rest of your body. A strong core helps prevent injury as well as makes you stronger all-round). This morning clinic was one part of the program of this weekend’s Tofino running camp, led by ultra-endurance athlete Jen Segger.

Norm has just come back from a major SUP trip through the Great Bear Rainforest – “standing up” (literally and figuratively) for the Great Bear Rainforest, in particular about the proposal to have oil tankers pass through this pristine region. The oil well spewing out tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day unfortunately illustrates Norm’s point perfectly – the devastating effects that accidents can happen. So, to raise awareness about the risks to the region, Norm travelled nearly 400 km on the SUP in 11 days.

The boards are broad and quite stable. I felt a little wobbly on it at first, but it is not what I would call “tippy”. Not one of us fell off – which says something about stability, considering we were a group of first-timers. I think for straight-out travelling, I’d prefer a sea kayak – both for the ability to hold more gear, and for the stability in rougher seas. But the view from up high was definitely quite nice. The view around is better, but what surprised me is how much you can look down into the water from the SUP, views that you mostly miss from a kayak. Who ever knew there are so many big crabs down there!

I think what the SUP is really great for, though, is for that core workout. You do really need to hold your body stable while paddling – can’t slack off and lean back and lily dip like you can in a kayak. But also, the stroke is very different, hoding both arms straight, and using mainly body rotation to pull the paddle through the water.

I’ve been wanting to try this out for a while, so I’m really greatful to both Norm and Jen for making this opportunity happen. Apparently, SUP is currently the fastest-growing watersport. And it’s not only for flat water. Norm had it out there on the waves every day, surfing some really good rides at Cox Bay, one of Tofino’s biggest and best surf spots.

What do you think about SUP? Have you tried it yet? (For any Vancouver Island visitors who want to try: they’re available to rent on Nitinat Lake, abotu a 45 minute drive from Port Alberni).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. PleaseNoSUPinSurf permalink
    July 28, 2010 1:53 pm

    These SUPs are dangerous in the surf, and have caused many injuries in the surf. The problem is the people on SUPs think they can be in the regualr surf lineup, but when they crash off their boards they hang on to their paddles an let their boards go. The outcome? A lot of hur people, and angry surfers. Please no paddles in the surf….

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