Words by Jason Paul

When you're obsessed with a sport, it's always interesting to research the origins of how and where exactly the sport was born -- but even more interesting is why?

Why SUP and why now?

In order for something to gain ground, there has to be a need and a niche out there that is ripe for development.  SUP boards were developed by board shapers, particularly Bill Hamilton, Gerry Lopez and Ron House, who were messing around for surfers like Laird -- always curious about developing new ways to have fun on the water.  From the experimentation with those first boards came the first paddle, first aluminum paddle, first race, first raceboard, first carbon fiber paddle, first river run, first channel crossing, first downwinder, first lake paddle, and now the very exciting advent of inflatable SUPs.  The sport of standup paddleboarding has, quite literally-pardon the pun-blown up.

"With surfing, sailboarding, bodyboarding, kiteboarding, I've seen a lot of board sport revolutions ebb and flow," says venerable Santa Cruz surfer/shaper and Surftech founder Randy French. "But I've never seen a board sport explode as fast as SUP."

We recently caught up with a few other SUP enthusiasts to find out what paddling means to them.

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

Santa Monica writer Rebecca Cullen discovered the sport with her boys eight years ago.  "As a mom, I'm always excited to find a sport our whole family could get into together. SUP, like skiing, is so exciting for us.  We all get out in nature, get out on the water.  Though it's an individual sport we can all do it together, be near each other, look out for one another and have a real adventure."  Cullen also points out the inclusivity of the sport.  "With surfing, it's more youth-oriented.  If you're like me and you love the ocean but you're a little intimidated by waves, SUP is the perfect solution."

Another devoted Southern California standup paddler, David Landau, a Venice web developer, says he loves SUP -- specifically with his inflatable board.

"I discovered standup in my 30s,” said Landau. “I love that you don't have to belong to a gym.  In the beginning I used to rent a board up in Malibu or down in the Marina.  It's my upper-body workout, my escape and my moment of zen -- all in one!"

Since discovering inflatable paddleboards, Landau says he now plans his trips around places he can travel to with his board, spending quality time on the water paddling in exotic, new destinations.

While it's certainly interesting to look back in time at the early days of our sport and how we got to where we are today, it's even more exciting to look to the future. SUP is uniquely positioned as an activity that can be enjoyed by all people, in all water conditions and in all parts of the world. With its massively broad appeal and easy accessibility, SUP has a truly exciting future ahead.

About the Author: Paddling enthusiast and editor-in-chief at InflatableBoarder.com, Jason currently lives in beautiful Panama with his wife and two small children. For questions about inflatable SUPs, you can drop Jason a line through his website or on Instagram

Related

Tips for a more efficient stroke.

Top five reasons to travel with an inflatable SUP.