You are currently viewing In a nutshell: a brief description of stand up paddle boarding history.

In a nutshell: a brief description of stand up paddle boarding history.

  • Post category:Opinion
  • Reading time:5 mins read

We’ve not really covered the history of SUP much on McConks’ blog. But as more and more newbies come into the sport it’s worth mentioning that we’re an evolved species and not just something that happened overnight.

Ancient art showing standing on boards is nothing new.

Paddle craft, for those not aware, are thousands of years old. More than a recreational activity the paddle has been used to navigate ‘boats’ between lands for a considerably long time. If it wasn’t for paddling then some continents may have gone undiscovered for longer

Standing and paddling is also ancient. There are plenty images and vids online depicting riders standing on and in platforms, using paddles for propulsion. And it wasn’t so much a pleasant recreational thing these people did in the sun it was (and still is for many) more a means to an end and an natural evolution of sit down paddling.

Standing a paddle a dug out canoe: natural evolution of paddling.

For instance, some South American fisherman stand and paddle their craft to safely navigate the surf zone. The elevated position gives them a better field of view and way to assess oncoming sets and get outback safely. Coming back in they can ride waves and arrive back onshore with their catch. SUP surfing being a valuable skill for life rather than frivolous fun activity most of use indulge in it for.

During the 50s the Waikiki Beach Boys began paddling their oversized tandem surfboards to photograph the influx of tourists that descended upon Hawaii and wanted to learn surfing. Their oceanic prowess, and ability to pilot all forms of watery vehicle, meant they were entrusted with capturing the action and not dropping expensive cameras in the drink. There wasn’t an abundance of protective water housing in those days so it was more about skill on the part of the Beach Boys who were at the top of their game.

Early image of a Waikiki Beach Boy stand up paddle boarding.

Around the start of the 2000sLaird (Hamilton) and co eventually kick-started what we see as SUP is today. Wanting something to entertain, amuse and provide training during Hawaiian summers, when swells are fewer and farther between, using outrigger canoe paddles to propel tandem surfboards ultimately caught on to a wider audience. This migrated to California and eventually all over the world. The rest as they say is history.

A modern take on ancient classic.

Stand up paddle boarding isn’t a new concept – as we said at the start of this article. The new element is that we now use boards and paddles for pure enjoyment as opposed to it being a necessary means of transport and/or work.

If you want to find out more about the origins of SUP then there’s plenty to find if you have a dig online.

For even more stand up paddle boarding knowledge head over to the McConks Knowledge Hub –

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.