Thirty something girl, originally from Sydney but Brisbane is home now. Eats, drinks, socialises, watches art-house, studies the stars, and loves music. I'm a professional copywriter and editor. Hearts writing things.
Published September 10th 2013
Give stand-up paddleboarding a go
It's something you'd expect to see on a picture perfect postcard from Hawaii. A cute couple sailing crystal waters on foot, as the bronzed female wears a teeny-weeny bikini and a beaming smile, and her buff counterpart goes shirtless in a pair of Okanuis. They're both standing on their own floating devices called stand-up paddleboards, gracefully striding through the water with long paddles. So ok, maybe it was this romantic ideal that I was trying to emulate when I agreed to go stand-up paddleboarding with my partner last weekend.
If you're looking for a new activity for the warmer months, you should definitely give it a go. Paddleboarding can be traced back to the Polynesians in the 1700s; however, the sport really began taking off after 2005. It's now become one of the fastest growing watersports globally, with more and more people participating for leisure or to race competitively.
Purchasing your own equipment can be expensive, so unless you're sure it's something you're going to stick with, I'd recommend hiring the gear when first starting out. JM Stand Up Paddle Company (SUP) hire boards out of Palm Beach Parklands (945 Gold Coast Highway) for use in Currumbin Alley. Board hire is $20 per hour and includes a free coffee at the popular Dune Café nearby.
Paul and Justin Mitchell (a lovely father and son team, who are related to Jamie Mitchell – an acclaimed Australian stand up paddler) run the business. Board hire is available from 8am till late afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays. Both men have a heavy involvement in the sport and are a wealth of information. They also run lessons that are great for newbies. 'After one lesson, you'll know all you need to know about paddling and turning, so you can take off and explore the waterways with confidence,' says Justin. Contact 0416 075 994 or visit their website.
A girl learning the techniques in a one-on-one lesson
There are many scenic places to go stand-up paddleboarding. Why not try Currumbin Alley, Tallebudgera Creek, Pumicestone Passage, Noosa River or Cudgen Creek in Kingscliffe? As a beginner you can go out on a calm, gentle waterway such as a river or lake, and for the more advanced (or is that the more adventurous?), you can take to the ocean and brave the waves.
Stand-up paddleboarding really is a whole body workout. To start out, you can get onto the board on your knees. Try paddling in that position for a few strokes until you get some momentum up. Then slowly stand up with your feet spaced around the centre of the board with your knees slightly bent. Some prefer to stand with their leading foot a little forward to help them balance and paddle with more strength.
Holding the long paddle with both hands you alternate strokes on the left and right side (do about 3–10 strokes on each side depending on the shape and type of board). Changing your stroke side will steer the paddleboard and distribute the effort across both arms. If you're paddling correctly, you should feel the results in your core muscles, possibly your buttocks and have a slightly 'heavy' arm feeling the next day. But don't worry, it feels nothing unlike most other forms of beneficial exercise. What you might find surprising, though, is that it doesn't actually feel like a workout until you're finished.
Probably the most important thing to know is — it's much easier than it looks. During my first paddle I fell into the water twice, something I welcomed on such a hot day. But I guess that's par for the course. I've been on a couple of paddles now and got the knack of it pretty quickly. While I found the steering a little difficult at first, the board never moves too quickly, so you have ample time to perfect the 'turn around'. Something I can say I feel confident doing now.
My wonderful partner surprised me the other day by buying me my very own paddleboard. We now enjoy going out regularly together on weekends.
So if anyone ever asks you 'What'SUP?'… it pays to remember the lingo… SUP stands for 'stand-up paddleboarding'.