Hello SUP Surfers,
Rapidly growing interest in stand up paddle surfing called Blane Chambers of Paddle Surf Hawaii to the public library in Mililani, Hawaii for a SUP workshop. Experienced SUP surfers and beginners alike traveled from the north and south shores for the insights Blane had to offer. In this article, we are bringing you highlights of the Question and Answer session that followed the workshop...
Q: How long does it take to learn to stand up paddle?
Blane demonstrates a comfortable paddling stance.
A: Everyone has a different learning curve. It could be a day or it could be a week. You don't need to be in tremendous shape to begin to stand up paddle surf. The more you paddle, the more you will train those muscles used for this activity.
Q: How can I find out if SUP surfing is for me?
A: To find out if this is for you, there's no better way I can think of than going to a surf shop and paddling a Surftech Laird Hamilton board through calm water. Those are great beginner boards. You will quickly progress to a more high-performance board.
Q: What can someone do to accelerate the SUP learning curve?
A: Paddle, paddle, paddle. Open ocean paddling is excellent exercise and training. Enjoy yourself paddling around in flat water. You'll be amazed at how much you can see while standing on the SUP surfboards.
Q: How do you know if you're ready to surf?
Surfers island wide came to Mililani to attend the workshop.
A.: A good rule of thumb to know if you are ready for waves is if you are comfortable paddling around for about an hour. Also, learn to turn the board around in flat water. When you are ready to start catching waves, surf away from others. The entire surfing community will thank your for learning away from a crowded lineup. www.paddlesurfhawaii.com is a great source for beginner tips and SUP surfing etiquette.
Q: Where should SUP surfers surf?
A: One thing Paddle Surf Hawaii promotes most is learning to surf with other surfers. Always remember to surf within your capability. It is so important not to take advantage of this incredible paddling tool. We can co-exist with all surfers. We just need to respect each other. With this sport you don't need to surf all the crowded spots. You can catch a wave then paddle along the coast catching waves as you go. You can even paddle aroung in circles having fun. People may look at you like, "what is that guy doing", but that's ok, you're probably having more fun than they are.
Q: What do you recommend for a paddle?
A: As far as paddles go, you can use a rake on a pole if you want to. There are companies that are making paddles specially designed for SUP surfing. Eventually you will want to get a paddle specialized for the sport.
Q: What do you do with the paddle while you are surfing?
Blane demonstrates the typical paddle height.
A: The paddle allows you to do so much. I personally flip the paddle over to lean on it. You can do full hard turns while leaning on the paddle. SUP surfers like Brian Keaulana do it well because they use the paddle.
Q: Do you ever lose your paddle?
A: If you let go of your paddle in the water, it's pretty easy to find. Some surfers put colored tape on it to make it more visible. The only time I let go of it is if I'm underwater and a need to use both hands to swim to the surface, but the paddle is usually nearby. Some people have thought of putting a leash on the paddle. I don't know of anyone who does this seriously who does. Once, at home I put a leash on the paddle but, as I looked at it, I envisioned it wrapping around my neck or legs or something. I took it off and never tried it.
Q: What else can you tell us about safety?
A: I've started wearing a life vest when I surf. Laird wears one and he's a much better swimmer than I.
Q: Where's this sport going?
A: It is evolving so fast. Last year in the Buffalo there were just a few guys in the stand up paddle contest and this year there were about 70! Last year the tricks were things like twirling the paddle over your head and playing air guitar, but this year it was the turns in the maneuvers that the waves were scored on. You'll find SUP surfing on the East Coast, West Coast, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Tahiti... everywhere.
We were thrilled to attend the workshop put on by Blane Chambers. For more information about Paddle Surf Hawaii, visit www.paddlesurfhawaii.com.
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