Stand up paddle board surfing has been around for a while now. Originally a Hawaiian pastime (some say stand up paddle boards first originated in Polynesia), it’s become a worldwide phenomenon – even athletes these days are choosing to cross train via stand up paddle boarding. What’s cool about it is that you don’t need waves to use a stand up paddle board – just a board, a paddle, and a fairly large bit of water. It’s pretty easy to learn, too – all you really need is a decent sense of balance, and the basic requirement of all surfers – a love of water.
Modern technology has completely changed the way we make things – and stand up paddle boards are no exception. Full wooden boards gave way to hollow, epoxy coated ones carved from lighter woods, such as balsa – although these days, the preferred material is usually expanded polystyrene foam for the core, with a glass reinforced plastic surface. Also, since stand up paddle boards are designed more for steering than surfboards, a stand up paddle board will usually have one to three fins glassed on as well. Due to their large size (often more than 12 feet), the US Coast Guard now classifies stand up paddle boards as “vessels”; this means, among other things, that users are now required to wear personal floatation devices when paddling in certain areas.
There’s a lot of kit out there for the serious surfer, beyond the basics, of course. Say you’re starting out, and want a rough budget – like most other things, it’ll depend largely on just how much you’re willing to shell out. A decent stand up paddle board can come for as little as $700, or as much as $1500; then there’s the paddle itself, figure another $100 or so; floatation device, about another $50, and then the bells and whistles – sunglasses (Gargoyles are brilliant), waterproof pouches (check out the kit by Seacure), paddle hats, and so on. Figure about $850 for an initial investment – and soon enough, a six pack, a suntan, and a healthy pastime to go with it.