SUP Has Exploded in Popularity
In the last decade, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has exploded in popularity. It now sees first-timers every day and is undoubtedly the fastest growing water sport.
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Why has it gotten so big, and what is unique in the draw to paddle boarding in comparison to, say, kayaking?
Amy Jordan, who rents and sells paddle boards at Boyd Lake State Park's swim beach, explains, “the perspective and relationship to the water is completely different on a paddle board. You’re going to see your surroundings in a whole new way.” As you stand up on the board, it’s not hard to peer through clear waters to see what’s just beneath the surface, and the expanse of the lake somehow feels both larger and more accessible than it ever could from a boat. It feels almost unnatural, gliding along with just a board beneath your feet and knowing you have full control of where you will go, if you use your paddle right. SUP is the closest we’ll ever come to walking on water.
Another part of the draw might be how easy it is to try the sport, and the simple fact that so many people seem to love it already; the popularity feeds into itself. Frank Furlott of
Mountain Rentals in Loveland (who also sets up at Boyd Lake, at Mussel Beach) likens paddle boarding to biking. Most anyone can do it regardless of age or skill, but there’s also plenty of room to adapt the sport for those who really want to get into it - racing, rapids and more! “It’s a great way to get out on the water without the expense of a boat,” he adds.
There are plenty of ways to feel the exhilaration of water sports, but not many that are accessible to such a wide range of clientele. Children and those with injuries often do just fine on a board, and first-timers can have a great time without too severe of a learning curve. As avid paddle boarder Cole Mayer points out, “anyone is able to stand on a paddle board in flat water and have a fun time; the feeling of floating over water while standing on a personal craft is something special, and the little amount of effort it takes to move is super fun.”
Don’t be fooled, though - the beginner’s skills aren’t too difficult to pick up, but developing strokes and balance for the rapids is a different beast. Plus, even a relaxing paddle boarding session on the lake promises a full-body workout! Aside from the core strength required to balance, muscles in the arms, back and shoulders are all hard at work with each stroke through the water as you propel yourself forward.
Vendors like Amy and Frank are present at many of our lakes, and their rentals start around $25 per hour for all the equipment you need: board, paddle, and personal flotation device. Vendors also often give renters a quick rundown of the technique involved with the sport - the basic how-to's. Unlike something like skiing, there’s no need for expensive lessons just to figure out if the sport is for you.
Paddle boarding is a great option in most any body of water, and each type offers different challenges and perks. One of the most accessible options for our state parks is paddle boarding on the calm, sparkling waters of a lake or reservoir. Check out your location and rental options and hop on board!