According to wikipedia (not the most academic source but for this occasion it works well) Stand Up Paddle surfing or SUP may have been around since 1939 already and has been around in Hawaii for a long time too but real popularity only started in about 2005.
By 2013 SUP was found to be the outdoor sporting activity with the most first time participants in the USA.
But what is the appeal?
Firstly it is easier for first timers than surfing and you don’t need waves. In fact beginners need nice flat water.
Secondly you see more. You have the perfect birds eye view of the water and animals within (fish, turtles etc) – even more so than when kayaking for example.
So what equipment do you need?
SUP requires a specialised board and a paddle. The size/ length of these depend on your personal height and weight. (You want the board to float and not dip plus you need the paddle to reach the water without you needing to bend). A wetsuit is optional and probably best avoided on hot days as you are not immersed in the water. Board shorts and a vest or standard swimwear plus a good sun hat seems to be standard.
How is the Garden Route a perfect match?
The Garden Route is blessed with not only the ocean but also estuaries and lakes a plenty. Almost anywhere in the Knysna Lagoon is well suited (windy days may make some areas less so, and watch the strength of the outgoing tide). Tony Cook Adventures makes use of Bollard Bay at Leisure Isle for beginners.
I have seen small groups of smiling SUP ‘boarders’ on the Knysna River (above the White Bridge) and can only imagine that other rivers in the area would hold similar appeal.
At Noetzie the lagoon is also well suited.
The lakes around Sedgefield and Wilderness have been popular for all kinds of water sports in the past and I am sure that SUP is no exception.
When do you start?
As soon as you arrive! Tony Cook Adventures offers beginner lessons and equipment rental so give Tony a call or drop him and email.
If you already have some experience and would like to go out on your own there are various other equipment hire options including Tait Marine on the corner of Waterfront Drive (on the way down to Thesen Island).
Please consult the local tide table and make sure someone knows where you should be. It is probably best if they have the NSRI contact number saved just in case. The rip tides off the coast have made the news for the wrong reasons too many times in the last few months.
(NSRI) Knysna Graeme Harding 082-990-5956
(NSRI) Plettenberg Bay Deon Truter 082-990-5975
The Knysna Oyster Festival has added a SUP race on the Knysna Lagoon to this years lineup so why not enter?
Any variations to SUP?
Oh yes indeed! Once you have the hang of the basics you may want to try SUP yoga.
I only laugh because I could see myself failing awesomely at SUP yoga but it must be great to ‘disconnect’ and enjoy yoga in this unique natural setting.
Read more about this trend in the Yoga Journal
See you on the water!