This is my second post in a series which will focus on the growth of SUP, it’s present, it’s future and for now, address the Florida regional area.
If I may, I would like to give you some background about my journey to SUP. I have been paddling some time, first in open boats, canoes, then prone surfboards, kayaks and decked C-1’s. I have always enjoyed and craved my time on the water. There is something special about this, most durable of surfaces, to travel on. My goal has always been to, get out there, have fun, and spend as much time as possible doing it with friends and family.
Although I have always experimented with many different ways to paddle, craft to paddle, and venues to paddle in, initially, I was resistant to Stand Up Paddleboarding. I thought, why would I need to paddle another, different craft, why would I want to burden my surfboard with a paddle, etc. But, my wife was interested in this new paddlesport and I was dedicated to supporting that endeavor. So my son and I set out to purchase a board for her. This is part of how Bishop Boards was born and a future blog post. For now, lets just say that this journey opened me to the research of this odd craft.
What solidified my transition to the SUP? For 13 years, I had been paddling and surfing in an area 1 mile offshore near my home. Using Kayak, surfboard, sailboat and powerboat to reach it. It was always fun and challenging, but not until I took a paddleboard out there, did I find the perfect match.
This first trip, at once, showed me the strengths and limitations of the SUP. I was able to have greater visibility in the swell and of nearby traffic. I was able to catch all the waves that I wanted when out there and link extremely long rides. The paddle back, well it was/is enjoyable, but proved it could be challenging. This first trip, I spent 45 minutes paddling prone on the SUP into a very strong headwind and outgoing tide, to make my return with my paddling companion. Mother ocean changes when she likes and at no regard for others. The increased windage of my standing body position quickly became a hindrance to my forward progress. All the years running the single blade helped a great deal, but when the wind increased and combined with the tide, the prone position became king. It was great to have this versatility.
I am a Florida native and have enjoyed my years in the water here. From the surf to the backwater, lakes to the rivers, we have a great deal of diverse waterways to paddle. The conditions are varied, the wildlife plentiful and the challenges can be engaging. The paddleboard is a great facilitator of this type of paddling. I have been lucky enough to paddleboard in all of these venues with a wide variety of amazing people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
For starters, transporting 2 SUPs for myself and my wife to paddle, with our 2 young kids seemed to be a very sensible alternative to larger craft. And as the family has grown, we can still easily carry 4 boards on one vehicle to our destination. It gives us a lot of versatility and the ability to tailor our trip to everyones ability. Sometimes everyone paddles solo, others we paddle tandem or someone gets a tow. From leisurely spring fed drifts to camping trips and day paddles.
I have long been a proponent of go light, go fast. Our SUPs allow us all to grab our own gear and get to the water in one trip, even with our fishing gear. This is a great advantage for put ins with limited access or impromptu paddles. Sometimes, we just need to squeeze one more paddle in at the end of a long day.
Moving from a seated paddle discipline to a SUP does have it’s challenges. There is no fixed reference point for body position, such as a seat, thigh brace or foot peg. But, once you embrace this freedom, it is liberating, challenging and will prove to keep you engaged. The later is something I have long enjoyed about paddlesports. Anything that allows more flexibility, creativity and challenge, must be good, right? Paddling is a life long pursuit for myself and many of us. This journey has never disappointed me.
I am not saying, everyone should get rid of all other paddle craft. I enjoy paddling my kayak at times, my daughter and son love to canoe with me. But the vast majority of the time, we are on paddleboards. It has been such a blast to paddle on everything from whitewater and surf to placid lakes, spring fed rivers, and large tributaries (all of which exist in Fl, by the way).
Paddleboarding has made inroads, from its first introduction and acceptance in coastal areas of Florida to day trips and longer journeys into the Florida interior. Pick most any location in the state and you will find day trips to a wide variety of paddling venues, many of which you can score solitude at. And when you see others out there, it is common that the SUPers are more and more intertwined with the other paddle craft. More and more people are growing up SUP and becoming engaged in this life long journey of paddling.