No this is not slang for “What is up?” SUP is short for Stand Up Paddleboarding- one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do on water.
I was born in Hawaii and so I have always had an interest in anything surfing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, snowboarding, etc. SUP is taking a large surfboard typically 11 ft. or taller that has more width to it and paddling on it while standing up. I saw this at the Outdoor Retailer Demo day a couple years ago and tried it out. It was surprisingly harder than I thought it would be at first and after doing it for about an hour my core was completely worked. I was very excited to try it again but at that time there were not any boards in the Utah area. Now there is a great outfit in UTAH: http://utahpaddlesurfing.com/
Utah Paddle Surfing offers sales and rentals of the boards however, rentals are only available for groups. They will meet a group on a body of water and bring all the equipment so you and your friends, family or coworkers can all try it out. They do a great job and if you like it they will help you find a board you can purchase.
When you are standing on a paddleboard you find that if you are on very calm water all you need to do is keep your balance and start to paddle. Every little movement makes every stabilizing muscle in your legs and your torso start to fire. First, your feet flex into a comfortable position then you spread your toes out to create a stable platform. After a while, you realize that you need to soften your calf muscles to create some flexibility because your quads are working to manage your center of mass. When you can finally settle down all the movements and assume a comfortable upright position you start paddling. Paddling strokes that go on either side of the board immediately help to tighten and workout the abdominal muscles especially if you are doing a deep power stroke or paddling quickly. With a couple hours on flat calm water you can get used to turning and maneuvering around obstacles. The next step is to try it out in slightly rougher water with small rollers or wakes from boats or river currents. I have not had the opportunity to try it in a raging river but there are some great videos of this on http://utahpaddlesurfing.com/.
Who SUP’s? Chris Lieto has been seen fly fishing on a SUP. One of the best SUP professionals is big wave surfer Laird Hamilton that was helping beginners learn to SUP at Jordanelle this year for the open air demo of the Outdoor Retailer show. I had a chance to talk to him for a while and of course he makes SUP look very easy.
Does SUP give you a workout? Yes! If you are not getting a workout you just need to paddle faster or get into rougher water. There are several races and events around SUP on the calendar for the coming year.
SUP is a great way to observe friends on open water swims and stay side by side especially if they need to grab on to make adjustments or catch a breath. If you are a race director contact http://utahpaddlesurfing.com/ for your next open water event and they may be able to bring some people to be in the water for support.