Discovery: stand up paddle


A water sport in vogue in recent years, stand up paddleboarding was born several decades ago. Often confused with surfing, it actually shares many similarities with the sport. What should you know about this sporting activity which is making a big comeback?

Contents of this article:

Stand up paddle: definition and origin

SUP is a water sport which consists of to stand on a plank, and to propel themselves using a paddle. As one of the oldest water sports, the stand up paddle is at the origin of modern surfing and many others.

Formerly, it was practiced by Polynesian kings. Standing on their huge planks made from tree trunks, they explored the lagoons of their archipelago and took the opportunity to trade. In the 1940s, the concept was picked up by the famous Hawaiian-born swimming champion, Duke Kahanamoku and his gang, the Beach Boys (the first).

In 1950, the stand up paddle became even more famous, in particular thanks to the famous Beach boys who used it as a means of transport on the beach of Waikiki. While standing, they had an easier time watch swimmers, as well as swell entrances. In case of danger, they could intervene more quickly, in particular thanks to their paddles. The other reason why the Beach boys had opted for the stand-up use of the paddle, it was because it was very practical and made it easier for them to get closer to the surfers to take pictures of them.

In 1990, Dave Kalama and Laird Hamilton popularized the discipline by practicing the “down wind” courses along the coast of Maui and by participating in the famous Molokai canoe race – O’Ahu. With the rise of lighter, shorter surfboards a few years later, stand-up paddleboarding gradually disappeared. But, it will once again be brought up to date during a competition in Hawaii, thanks to the famous Hawaiian Waterman Laird Hamilton who brings a more modern touch to it. It is even possible today to make Stand up paddle tours in France.

The necessary equipment for the practice of stand up paddle

Whether you are an amateur or a professional, to practice SUP, you need to equip yourself with a certain number of equipment.

The stand up paddle board

The first equipment you will need to bring is the board. Similar to surfboard, SUP board typically measures between 1.5m and 6.5m, with an average weight of 15kg per 250 liters of water. There are two types: rigid and inflatable. Rigid boards are similar in composition to classic surfboards. On the other hand, inflatable boards are designed with a unique material called the Drop stitch.

SUP paddle

Also called paddle, the paddle is an essential material for the practice of SUP. Concretely, it allows to steer and propel the board. It breaks down into three parts. Starting from the bottom, there is the blade, the part that plunges into the water. Then there is the handle which is also called the shaft. Finally, the olive is the part that is held in the hand.

For a good boating experience, the paddle should be well chosen. In principle, it should not only adapt to your height, but should also be suitable for the type of SUP you want to practice. To go hiking, you will not need the same type of paddle as for the “race”. You must also take into account the design material. Between aluminum, plastic, wood and carbon, the choice is difficult to make. If you want your paddle to be strong, light and flexible at the same time, we suggest the fiberglass models.

The pump

When you go for an inflatable board, you definitely need a pump. It is only thanks to this tool that you will be able to inflate your board and thus make it usable. Usually you have the choice between manual pump and electric pump. The former is often offered with the board. Unfortunately, it is not very practical. To inflate your board more quickly and effortlessly, we recommend electric pumps.

The leash

This is a kind of cord that connects you to your board, and helps you recover it more easily in the event of a fall. The leash therefore plays a security role. However, it can also rupture at any time. It is therefore important to maintain it well after each session.

Apart from these equipments, you will also need fins, a swimsuit or a wetsuit, and optionally a paddle vest, sunscreen, wax, a helmet. In addition, the practice of SUP requires good physical condition and mastery of swimming.

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