Stand Up Paddlers
A noticeable trend at our local beach over the past 18 months has been the increase in the number of people who paddle large surfboards in a standing position. I have come to understand that this “stand up paddling” (SUP) originated in Hawaii and has recently become a new opening for people who can’t surf anymore, or want to extend their surfing experience in a new form. Non-surfers are also taking up the new “craze” as a different form of recreational activity.
I was walking along the beach in the early evening several weeks ago when I saw these three SUP’s coming ashore after a late afternoon paddle. What first caught my attention was the setting sunlight reflecting off the boards and the shading on Rangitoto Island in the background. Mark, one of the paddlers, saw me take the photographs and asked for copies. I was happy to oblige. It turned out that Mark, the chap with the yellow board, imports and distributes stand up boards and is a prime mover behind getting more people involved in board paddling. He has been behind promoting a number of community events for paddlers.
It seems that not all people in the surfing community are happy with this new phenomenon. There have been dismissive articles in some surfing publications where SUP’s are accused of creating a danger in traditional surfing areas ‘especially beginners who cannot handle these new large boards in a responsible manner’. This reaction reminds me of the debate that raged in ski areas when snowboards first came on the scene. Unlike ski areas that are managed by ski patrollers however, surf areas are not regulated and the old and new breeds of surfer are having to find their way towards a manageable working relationship, perhaps with a few “understood” rules of the sea.