Stand up paddle boarding has been increasing in popularity around the globe and has become a great recreational sport for just about all fitness levels. SUPing is give’s people the ability and opportunity to enjoy local bodies of water. Investing time to enhance your SUP skills, you will open up whole new realms to explore- imagine packing up a wetbag with your camping gear and taking a trip across a mountain lake at 10,000ft of elevation.
However, with this comes some basic knowledge just like any other outdoor activity. It’s important to understand many of Alberta’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs do not warm up until late August. Cold water (less than 70° F or 21° C) can cause hypothermia. The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water so, be prepared to fall in. This means wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) and a leash is important. According to Transport Canada (TC) there must be one Canadian approved lifejacket or personal floatation device (PDF) on an SUP and available for immediate use at all times. Transport Canada supports the use of a leash, but not as an alternative to a lifejacket or personal floatation device.
SUPs Can Be Used Everywhere: Like most people, I plan my vacations around coastlines. I love camping, but I can't function without water. SUPing has emerged as a great way to enjoy all parts of the world’s waterways and bodies of water. Along with the ocean, people are riding SUPs in rivers, lakes, harbours, streams, reservoirs, etc. By paddling around on a SUP, you will get to enjoy a body of water and the sun while getting a whole new perspective.
Selection the Right Board: Once you’ve been bitten by the stand up paddle boarding (SUP) bug, you’ll soon want to buy your own SUP. While one board is never enough in my thinking, most people have to find the right one, think about the type of paddle boarding you'll be doing:
Fun and fitness: This includes leisurely outings and fitness sessions on flat water and catching small- to medium-size waves in the ocean. Most beginners will fall into this category. The Surftech Universal Coretech (available in 9’6”, 10’6” and 11’6”) meets all the needs of a novice SUP’er with room to grow. At 32” wide this light, super stable and playful board can be used for fitness, fishing or a casual paddle on the lake with or without your dog.
Your primary considerations when choosing a SUP for all-around use and surfing are stability and manoeuvrability.
Touring or racing: This type of paddling involves covering long distances and reaching high speeds. Your primary considerations when choosing a SUP for racing/touring are speed and efficiency in the water. The Surftech Sabre (available in 12’0 and 11’0) can go from backcountry expeditions to weekend race series. These boards are equipped with front and rear tie downs for equipment and is priced just right. This board was named in Outside Magazine Gear of the Year Award for 2015.
Rigid or inflatable board: Technology has come along way since the start of SUP and with that the “inflation nation” has slowly taken over. Benefits of inflatable board include; easy storage, ability to travel, and perhaps the most enticing is that they can take a lot of abuse. Surftech’s new Transport Air Series (available in 10’0, 11’0, and 12’6) features progressive outlines and the most advanced technology to create a lightweight inflatable board.
Edmonton has a diversity of different locations and shops to get you started. For a complete selection of boards and accessories check of one of Canada’s biggest shops, the Easy Rider or Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).
Looking to try SUPing? First off I would encourage you to take a course through a certified organization like Paddle Canada. This will help you get off on the right foot in a safe and friendly environment. Waterman5 is located in the southeast of the city and offers certified courses and training on a weekly basis throughout the summer. They also have a wide variety of boards and paddles that you can test on location.
As you learn more about SUPs you'll find that there are actually a few sub-genres of SUP including; touring, white-water, racing, fishing, and ever popular SUP fitness. The more types of boards and activities you try, the more fun you'll have and you might just find the right genres. You'll never know if you don't try.
By Sean Nickerson – Owner of Waterman5