There’s no doubt about it, Stand Up Paddleboarding seems to have exploded in popularity recently. While some have been gradually getting into the sport over the past twenty years or so, newcomers have also been welcomed into the fold, whether they discovered it as a healthy new hobby during the pandemic, or through family and friends, there’s been an undeniable pull toward SUP of late. But where did the sport come from and how did stand-up paddleboarding become one of the fastest-growing sports?
A (very) brief history of paddleboarding
We tend to think of SUP as a new phenomenon although, in reality, it actually has its roots going back thousands of years as our ancestors all over the globe used similarly shaped vessels to navigate the water. The modern sport as we now know it stems from mid-20th century Hawaii. When surfing first started to take off in the 1940s, instructors would use paddles in addition to a board to help them stay upright and teach their students. While the west coast of the USA fully embraced surf culture in the 1960s, it wasn’t until a few decades later that SUP caught on as a viable alternative. And since then, its popularity has continued to gain traction all over the world.
Why is it popular now?
A big factor in SUP’s popularity is its accessibility. Many people live near (or within a reasonable distance of) a body of water suitable for SUP, whether it’s a river, lake, or sea. It’s also a sport that the whole family can take part in, as it doesn’t require any particular skill set or ability. So long as you have fairly good balance, the right equipment and conditions, there’s no reason why you can’t learn to paddleboard.
Interest in stand-up paddleboarding skyrocketed during the pandemic. And it’s understandable. With many areas going into lockdown and access to recreational facilities unavailable, many looked to the great outdoors to provide their usual exercise fix and a sense of comfort.
SUP is great for providing a bit of escapism – a brief moment of calm on the water to get away from the pressures of normal life and an opportunity to take things at your own pace (if only for a couple of hours!)
A good safe workout option
SUP is one of the few sports that’s low impact to protect joints and ligaments but still gives a total body workout. As expected, arms and legs are put to the test, what with all that paddling and scrambling on and off boards, but it’s the core muscles that are used for maintaining stability on the board. These muscles are vital to our everyday wellbeing but are so often overlooked. Building and engaging strong core muscles will actually help you to perfect your stroke technique (saving your arms from overuse!) as well as helping to improve posture and balance on the board. It can even eradicate those nagging aches and pains we’re all too familiar with. Coupled with the fact that paddleboarding is so fun and engaging, this is one workout that doesn’t feel such an arduous task for a change.
Paddleboarding appeals because it’s something everybody can do. There’s no limit to the number of people who can paddle out in a group. And with the right board, you can paddle in tandem or take additional passengers like the kids or even the dog along for the ride! A number of online communities have sprung up over the past couple of years, offering a forum to chat and share knowledge in addition to big organised festivals and meet-ups for other like-minded SUPers. It’s not just about surfing anymore, SUP is recognised as a bone fide sport in its own right.
It’s increasingly affordable
People get into paddleboarding in different ways. Some are introduced through friends, while others might discover it as an activity on holiday. Anyone who is just starting out might be cautious about parting with vast sums of money on equipment, and it’s possible to get around this by borrowing or hiring gear for your first few sessions. At Bluefin, we truly believe we offer the best value all-inclusive packages on the market, so once you have a better idea about what you actually need, you know that you can safely invest. For added peace of mind, Bluefin SUP boards come with an unbeatable five-year warranty. With good care, you should get a lifetime’s use out of your board.
What else has contributed to SUP’s rise in popularity?
Put quite simply, SUP boards are much more sophisticated than they were a decade or so ago which is possibly fueling the drive for SUP and SUP-related activities.
Our bestselling Cruise board has undergone an evolution since its first iteration in 2018. Materials are now much more durable, using advanced methods of construction which can cater to specialist use, whether it’s long-distance touring, whitewater SUP, or related activities like SUP Yoga and SUP Fishing. With the advance of inflatable boards, and the ability to just roll up and go, the possibilities of where you can SUP are endless.
While boards continue to develop and improve in response to demand, we see no chance of stand-up paddleboarding slowing down any time soon.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen an increase in the number of people taking up SUP in your area? Let us know in the comments below.