Stand Up Paddle

What’s a SUP? How to use it? Is it hard?

Is it fun? Is it safe?

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In short

Stand up and paddle!

Have you just found it its existence? Well…there was SUP paddlers already back to 1700…

What’s the sup

Is SUP a “real” sport?

There are references to Hawaiian men who moved into the water to fish with large wooden boards and paddles as early as the late 1700s, in the diaries of the English explorer James Cook. Over the past decade, thanks to the two surfers Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, the practice of SUP has been revised, improved, and popularized. The great versatility and accessibility are not the only advantages of the SUP: it is also fun, training and relaxing. Practicing it also conveys a deep sense of calm and stillness. And it is for everyone. You don’t have to be an athlete or a surfer.

Yet SUP is a competitive discipline. There has been a World Championship for nations since 2012. While it can be relaxing, it can also be very training, using the whole body and improving balance.

what equipment do you need?
What you Need

The SUP Equipment

To practice Stand Up Paddle you need a bigger board than a surfboard. While the surfboard has to be narrow to paddle with your hands while lying down, with the SUP boards you have to stand comfortably. In fact there is also a non-slip rubberized “pad”.

The boards can be inflatable or rigid. The rigid boards are more reactive and performing. The inflatable boards are rollable, and fit in their backpacks (large backpacks). They fit comfortably in the trunk of a small car (like the Italian Fiat 500). They inflate under high pressure (15-20 PSI), so don’t expect the banana effect of beach mats! Inflatable boards, even if inflated by hand, achieve considerable rigidity once under pressure. As in surfing, there are different types of boards, based on conditions and disciplines. The various types will be presented later.

You move around with a paddle as “engine”. The SUP paddle has a single blade, has a handle at the top to grab it, and often has a telescopic shaft to be adapted to the height of the surfer. The cheapest are aluminum, the most expensive are carbon, much lighter. There are paddles that can be disassembled to save space, and one-piece paddles that are more bulky but have no problems with vibrations in favor of the joints.

As in surfing, a leash is used to tie the ankle so you don’t lose the board if you fall when there are waves. In case of cold temperatures, a suitable wetsuit is also used.


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Is it just relaxing standing on the calm water? Absolutely not! There are various disciplines, depending on the type of conditions, whether you go to rivers, lakes or the sea, and the type of board used.

The different Disciplines

What are the optimal conditions?

SUP can be practiced in different conditions and not just at sea. So do not think it is an activity to be practiced only in summer, without wind with the flat sea. Surely the  type of the used board and equipment help to deal with certain situations, but in a generic way it can be said that SUP is practicable in almost any condition.

SUP Touring: it is the most common form. It consists of hiking for recreational purposes, simply to relax or to explore areas both by the sea and the lake, usually with calm water. [all-round boards]

SUP Adventure/Cruising: the tour takes several days, thus exploring large stretches of coast and, why not, sleeping in the tent that you bring on the table. It is more difficult than Touring, simply because it requires good technique, athletic training and organization, in addition to the knowledge of the environment to be explored. [cruising boards]

SUP Racing: it’s the competitive form of SUP in flat water. As in any other sport, there are different categories based on gender, board and route. [race boards]

SUP Downwind: It consists in following paths (including rivers) into the wind and waves. It is very demanding for your body and energy, the right equipment is required (helmet and various protections) but it is also a lot of fun.

SUP River: plans to paddle a river in white water. This too requires some preparation and experience. It can be dangerous and it is not recommended to do it alone.

SUP Yoga: as yoga is closely related to surfing, to improve balance, so is it related to SUP. In fact, there are many SUP paddlers who practice yoga on their boards, sometimes anchored to a buoy. You are in contact with nature, you relax and increase the difficulty.

SUP Surf/Wave: SUP practiced to ride the waves, just like surfing. It requires excellent technique, excellent balance and a lot of experience. SUP surfing is also not recommended to practice it alone. [wave boards]

SUP Fitness: as for yoga, it is the transposition of gymnastics on the board, increasing its difficulty and training.

Do you want to know which type of board is right for you? Read the article of our Emidio