Spring is here. The sun is beaming and seducing us to get out and enjoy the rays. If you’re like me, you love nothing more than an active sunny day by the ocean. And if, like me, you’re a total daisy when it comes to diving in to cold water, some days swimming is on standby for warmer water temps. So, in the meantime, a great way to get out on the water and in to the sunshine without the chill factor, is to take to a paddleboard.
A combination of surfing and kayaking, stand up paddling (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. It’s been around in some form or another for centuries, with ancient echoes of very traditional forms of ocean locomotion. Humans have been paddling watercraft while standing for eons but the Hawaiians pioneered stand up paddling for fun. It was made popular in the ‘60s by the Waikiki Beach Boys of Oahu and it’s been on the rise ever since.
In addition to being fun, social and satisfying our ocean cravings, stand up paddling comes complete with a side of full. body. workout. The sport summons core-strength, cardio fitness, balance and flexibility with very little impact. Couple these benefits with the fact that it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and you can see why it’s so popular.
I visited Terry McDermott from Watsons Bay Stand Up Paddling (WATSSUP) for a morning paddle and to get 5 hot tips on how you can become just as addicted as me to this booming beachside craze.
What do we need to get started?
WATSSUP is a SUP school focusing on lessons, tours and training. If you have never paddled before we always recommend a lesson for safety and for fast tracking the learning process, keeping you safe and to expose you to the world and wonders of SUP. When introducing a new paddler into the world of SUP the most important way to begin is to establish what equipment is correct for the
Individual such as the correct volume board; too small and it becomes unstable too long and it becomes too heavy and hard to handle. Next is the paddle, we have adjustable paddles as the correct size paddle is very important when SUPing, as is wearing a leg rope. Unlike surfing, paddleboards are a lot bigger and the biggest difference is that you have a paddle and you are standing up!
What are the best water conditions and time of day?
SUPing at Watsons Bay on Sydney Harbour for example has a series of bays and beaches that have sheltered options and offer protection from open sea swells and most winds. Usually the first half of the day is the best for SUPing. This is the time of day before the wind picks ups, before it gets too hot, the harbour is quieter and there is more nature and marine life to be seen – fish, penguins, stingrays and occasionally whales! Dolphins are regulars to our morning SUP sessions as well!
Can anyone do it?
Yes, the vast majority of people can SUP from 8 years of age all the way to 80! We customize our SUP sessions to the individual’s age and fitness/skill level. SUP does require a certain level of fitness and coordination but practice and being taught the correct skills and techniques from day one is key for anyone keen to start paddling. SUP is a sport everyone can enjoy!
How can paddleboarding keep us fit?
We think of the water as our gym. Exercising on the water utilises all muscle groups especially your core. It’s hard to beat! We have a saying amongst paddleboarders that SUP works out from the tips of your fingers to the ends of your toes! It’s also equally as beneficial for your mind as it is for your body. Working out in and on the water with ever-changing natural scenery is a refreshing alternative to exercising in a sweaty overcrowded gym.
How can we take SUP fitness training to the next level?
Firstly if you have never paddled before you need a lesson or two to get the skills you need. Then we can get you on the water and in our SUP Fit program. Our Social Paddle on Sundays at 9:00am is a great introduction to SUP Training. For more experienced SUPers, our current SUP Fit Team trains up to 4 times a week and it’s a great mix of paddlers from beginner/intermediate levels right up to serious paddlers. We stagger the courses and training sessions to cater for all paddlers’ development and progression. All of our SUP options are structured with Adventure, Fun and Fitness in mind and keeping clients safe is our top priority! Keeping you safe, keeping you fit and keeping you excited are what we strive for, hence our motto; ‘Learn Train Play’.
Of course, here at The Upside, we’ve got you covered with the right gear . Our paddle suits are perfect for a SUP session offering a stylish, sun safe and comfortable piece that will have you looking every bit the expert paddler.
Lydia wears the Bamboo Spacer Paddle Suit.