Paddling on the ocean standing up provides the perfect microcosm to not only develop a whole range of water skills but also helps with focus, co-ordination, balance and self confidence.

It’s little wonder then, that the sport of Stand Up Paddle board riding (SUP for short) is the fastest growing board sport in the world. Most commentators claim the sport is growing exponentially. A quick scan of the Victorian beaches and waterways this summer seems to confirm these claims.

Stand up paddling (or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he’e nalu), is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage. The sport is an ancient form of surfing and re-emerged as a way for surfing instructors to manage their large groups of students, as standing on the board gave them a higher viewpoint, increasing visibility of what was going on around them – such as incoming swell. To begin with, they started with using a one-bladed paddle, while standing on a normal length surfboard.

The popularity of the modern sport of SUP has its origination in the Hawaiian Islands. In the early 1960s, the Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their long boards, and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. This is where the term “Beach Boy Surfing”, another name for Stand Up Paddle Surfing, originated.

In the early 2000s Hawaiian surfers such as Dave Kalama, Brian Keaulana, Rick Thomas, Archie Kalepa and Laird Hamilton started SUP as an alternative way to train while the surf was down. As the years went on they found themselves entering events such as the Moloka’i to O’ahu Paddleboard Race and Makaha’s Big Board Surfing Classic. Now you can find Stand Up Paddle Surfers in many of the Outrigger and Paddleboard races as participants within their own division.

One difference between the modern idea of surfing and SUP is that the latter does not need a wave. With SUP boards, you can paddle on the open ocean, in harbors, on lakes, rivers or any large body of water. One of the advantages of Stand Up Paddle Surfing is the angle of visibility.

Because of the standing height over the water one can see both deeper into the water and further across the surface of the water, allowing better visualization of features others lower above the water may not be able to see, whether it is the marine life in the harbors, lakes and coves or the incoming swells of the ocean marching on the horizon.

SUP boards mostly use glass-reinforced plastic construction with epoxy resin that is compatible with the expanded polystyrene foam used in the core. SUP boards are generally between 10 to 12 feet in length – but high performance race boards can be up to 17ft in length and performance SUPs for the surf and getting smaller and smaller – around 8ft to 9ft.

Whatever you want to do with your SUP experience, you’ll be able to find a board to suit your needs.