Paddleboarding is the latest craze to take the marine leisure world by storm. It's one of the few watersports that requires minimal training and is also suitable for marine adventurers of all ages. Holiday islands like Phuket and Koh Samui offer some of the best spots to get out on the calm clear waters and take in the stunning tropical views while keeping fit at the same time.
Although Stand up Paddleboarding (SUP) has only recently shot to the top of the beach activity list, it is far from a new sport. Historical records and paintings from voyages to remote islands like those in Polynesia suggest native islanders were fashioning and using paddle boards as long ago as the 18th century.
More recently, an obvious design connection to surf boards can be traced to the early 20th century when Thomas Edward Blake created the first hollow surf board based on the original models used by Hawaiian royalty. He rode his board to win paddle and surf championships and even set new distance records.
Later still, in the 1980s, paddle boards were re-introduced as life saving tools in Los Angeles, inspiring well known surf journalist Craig Lockwood to start producing what are now known as stock boards, which have a fixed rudder and measure about 12 ft long. His Waterman design quickly became the standard and remains a popular choice for paddleboarders today.
Other marine companies soon saw the opportunity and began producing paddle boards and competitive paddle boarding also began to draw enthusiasts in places like LA and Hawaii where the sport fit well into the surf season as an alternative during the flat summer waters. In 1997 the first Molokai to Oahu paddle board race drew spectators and media to what was a historic first crossing of Hawaii's Ka’iwi Channel. Organised by star paddler Dawson Jones and his training partners Garrett Macamara and Mike Takahashi, the event has since grown to become a sell out competition with both prone and stand up paddleboarders from around the world competing in solo and team divisions.
How its done
When you first learn to paddle board it's best to head out in flat, calm waters in an areas free of obstacles. You should hop onto the board from the side with the paddle placed across the centre and grab the outer rails (board edges) to raise your self into the board in a kneeling position. It's easier to kneel on the board rather than to stand up straight away because you get a feel for the best balance point and can start paddling around immediately while making sure the nose doesn't pop out of the water and the tail doesn't dip in.
Once you feel confident, you can try standing up in the centre of the board, keeping your feet parallel about a hip-width distance apart and centred between the rails. It's important to keep your toes pointing forward, your knees bent and your back straight — to balance with your hips rather than your head with your eyes on the horizon rather than your feet. Much like cycling, your stability will increase with forward momentum and you can shift your weight using your hips.
If you're paddling in the right hand side, your right hand should be lower and on the paddle shaft and you place your top (left) hand over the top of the grip. You should keep your arms straight and use your torso to paddle rather than your arms because that's where the core strength is to move you through the water.
You can keep the strokes short and dip the paddle close to the board, remembering that one stroke will move you along quite a distance so there's no need for frantic paddling. To move forward in a reasonably straight line, you paddle about 4 or 5 strokes on one side, then switch to the other, reversing your hand positions as you switch sides.
When you are standing up, you will soon discover that paddleboarding affords fabulous views of the coast and even glimpses of marine life in areas with clearer waters. There's no need to head out too far from the shore and once you've mastered the basic techniques there's virtually no limit to the marine environments you can explore. The sport has also become very popular full body workout and is already a favourite part of cross-training routines for athletes such as skiers, snowboarders and of course, surfers.
The health benefits of paddleboarding include stretching and awakening muscles that don’t get much of a workout in everyday life as the paddling brings together legs, back, feet, arms, neck and stomach muscles in a combined display of core strength and balance. The saltwater exposure while practicing the sport can have a positive effect on the skin, helping draw out toxins and dirt. Working up a sweat gets the blood flowing and the heart pumping and also helps clear and refresh the mind. Whats more, the uncomfortable heat that normally builds up during exercise is negated by the refreshing ocean breeze and the occasional dip that you're bound to take while honing your skills.
Paddling in Thailand
Although paddleboarding has become popular in places like Hawaii and Australia, thanks to the many protected bays on the Thai islands of Phuket and Koh Samui, a number of operators have started offering paddle boards for rent right from the beach, often with instructors on hand to show you the basics. If you are renting a private villa, it is also now possible to have a paddle board delivered for you to use right from your own stretch of beach, or you can join paddle board tours with a guide to take you to the most scenic spots and to help you navigate around any reefs or rocks that may be lurking under the surface.
Paddleboarding is a fun way to enjoy the beach and is a sport that's not only good for you, but also much less damaging to the environment than motorized watersports activities like water ski-ing or jet-ski rides. Thousands of people around the world are discovering the simple pleasure of being out on the water and on the islands in Thailand the experience is made all the more enjoyable thanks to the stunning views and warm welcoming waters.
by LVH Marketing