In France, it's summer 2014 big thing. If you wanted to be hype, you had to give SUP a try. Here, in the USA, stand up paddling is not new and quite common. I tried, for the first time, this summer. I wanted to try it for a long time. I read first timers reviews on French blogs. And, you know what, I don't really agree. SUP is nothing near surfing. Let me explain.
Actually, I discovered SUP when I was living in NYC. At the end of summer 2011, I spent 3 days in Miami for vacation (RAPOG - "WE in Miami, Florida" - FR). There, I saw people stand up paddling for the first time. I was intrigued. I already had this idea of trying out surfing and it seemed to me, at the time, it was a way to get closer to it. But, you know, the playboy is a bit stubborn. He didn't want to try. He was not interested and that was it. I tried to push the idea again when we settled down in California. But, it was not happening any time soon with him. So, when my little brother came to spend summer with us, I knew it was my chance to have someone to try SUP with me.
As it was our first time on a SUP, I booked a lesson: 2 hours, in the nice water of Ventura Harbor. We thought it would be a group lesson, but, we ended up being alone with a teacher.
For clothes, I went with waterproof: running T-shirt, surf shorts and swimsuit underneath. As the water was not so cold, we didn't need a wetsuit.
The teacher gave us a 30-second speech about some navigation rules in the harbor and how to hold and handle the paddle. It was sincerely enough. No need for more. We entered the water and walked until our legs were submerged, and then, we jumped on the boards, on our knees.
First observation: the paddle board is really stable. No problem to jump on it. No problem to stay on it. We stayed on our knees to get to a safe place in the harbor, paddling. The only difficulty here was to paddle. If you already did kayaking, it's the same.
Then, we finally get to the point: standing up. The board is large, so really stable. It's not that hard. Once you managed to stand up, you find your balance, and here you go.
I thought I would find a glimpse of surfing feeling, but it's not the case at all. It's more like kayaking, except you are standing up. You make you slide on the water. You are not sliding with it like while surfing. We paddled through small waves but, the wave doesn't catch you. You just get through it. With waves, of course, it's less stable, but it was manageable.
I envisioned paddle surfing harder and more difficult physically to stay on the board. It's not exactly that hard. BUT my arms were aching, the day after. You have to paddle! It wasn't what I thought it would be, but, I really enjoyed it. I love kayaking and it reminds me of that.
But, there are cool and easy SUP and SUP. It's possible to make it really athletic. The trained paddle surfers go in the big waves and ride them as the surfers. But, to get to this point, you will need more than 2 hours!
So, I say yes to Stand Up Paddle, but, if you do it only occasionally, you won't have the athletic SUP version and you won't be able to ride waves like surfers. It will be more like a nice stroll on the water. It is great, for sure. But, it's not surf as some people try to make us believe. If you want to surf, then try surfing out!
Did you try SUP? Did you like it? Did you expect it to be more like surfing as I did? Do you want to try it out? Let me know.
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