From the Mag | Pure Stroke: SUP Made Simple

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Photo by Greg Panas

Pure Stroke: SUP Made Simple

By Sam George, originally from our 2016 Gear Guide

"OK, that's your board and that's your paddle.

Wait, we have to put your fins in. The fins. Those things that stick up on the bottom of the board. Yeah, there's three. The little ones on the side? Well, see, when you're doing a turn they give you a little bite.

What? A turn. You know, when you redirect the board as you're riding the wave. No, you probably won't be turning the board today. Well, fins help you go straight, too. Yeah, it's confusing, but, well, don't worry about the fins. Just grab your board and paddle and let's head down to the beach.

Yeah, they are pretty heavy, especially a board this big. Why? Yeah, hard to carry … whoa, watch it. You OK? Don't worry, it's tough. Nah, it's tough, you didn't ding it. Grab it by the handle. That thing in the middle. Makes it way easier to carry, doesn't it? Yeah, they put it right in the center of the board, the balance point.

Hey, we made it to the sand, just put the board down … no, fins down. First I'm going to show you how to stand up on the board. No, I know you know how to stand. I've got to show you how to stand up. You know I never thought of it that way. You're right, it isn't called 'standing paddling.'

But hey, to get started I want you to kneel on the board, right over the handle. No, sink back on your thighs. You can't? A little yoga would help. Just kneel. Now take your paddle and lay it across the board in front of you. No, across, side-to-side. OK, now balancing yourself on the deck of the board bring your feet up underneath you. Stay off the toes. Flat feet, heels on the deck. Back straight. Well, as straight as you … that's OK. Now stand up straight, paddle held in front … OK, you're up.

Eyes front. Yeah, bend the legs. Too much. No, too stiff. Just kinda comfortable. To absorb the shock. No, the water's pretty warm. Yeah, it's pretty glassy today. Everything's going to go smooth once we get on the water. Yeah, in a minute.

First I want to show you how to hold your paddle. OK, that's great, but the bend of the paddle faces forward. No, see how the paddle blade … the blade, the business end, the wide end, see how it bends? That bend goes forward. Why? Uh, it was the Tahitians who figured that out when paddling their six-man outriggers … yeah, it is hot in that wetsuit but if you do happen to fall in you'll probably be glad you're wearing it.

No, you don't have to fall in. You probably won't. But if you do, the worst thing that'll happen is you'll get wet. Well, yeah, getting eaten by a shark would be worse, but I don't think that's going to happen today. Because your board is bigger than any shark that might come along. He'll be more afraid of you. No, I was just saying, we're not going to see any sharks. Not because they're stealth hunters, we're not going to see any because there aren't any around here.

So OK, you've stood up, you've got your paddle held in the right direction … no, grab the top. The top of the paddle. Always hold the top. Because that way with the other hand on the shaft … the shaft? The long, straight part. But with one hand on the top and the other on the shaft you create a fulcrum. You know, like a lever.

Well, look, just take a stroke here standing on the board, pretend the sand is the water. No, not like … you never want to pull the paddle back toward you. Forget what they taught you at summer camp. You put the paddle in the water and use the fulcrum created by how you grip the paddle to pull the board toward the blade. Not quite like that, but look, let's worry about that once we're out there.

No, we'll avoid those surfers. We're going to paddle out past them. Oh, don't ask me, they just feel threatened. Nah, makes no sense. Yeah, I used to surf regular boards. Standup? Jeez, about ten or twelve years ago. Why? Don't know, I guess because it was so simple. Just such a simple way to get out and enjoy the water.

Yeah, simple. Oh, very funny."

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