SUP, as many will be aware, is a great ‘machine’ to make use of less than ideal conditions. The versatility a stand up paddle board gives ensures broad appeal. SUP boards also give every type of waterway a ‘use’ so to speak. You don’t need to be coastal bound for some SUP action – a duck pond will do for some paddling fun. (As long as the ducks don’t mind!). In terms of wave riding though, stand up paddle boards are a great choice of surf riding craft.
SUP surfing underdog waves.
The oversize nature of a stand up paddle board, combined with paddle power, means wave types that ‘normal’ surfers wouldn’t sniff at are good to go. In fact, the junkier, more unusual the wave all the better for SUP. Those non-stand ups, who bemoan lineups getting crowded out by paddle boarders (not that that’s happened – or every will by the way), probably wouldn’t be caught at the types of surf break a SUP is ideal for.
Offshore lumps pitching over on faraway sandbanks and reefs, convergence runners that work off backwash and tidal anomalies, slack powered surf dribbling onto beaches miles from ‘Surf Central Cornwall’, waves you find in rivers, lakes and canals; the list goes on. These types of wave are more than doable aboard your SUP. But probably not so much if you’re staunchly committed to surfboard riding.
Glide, glide, glide.
One of the biggest performance points that make stand up paddle boards good for the aforementioned wave type is glide. Paddle propulsion in tandem with large volume platforms give enhanced glide. And once up to speed, the momentum carries, making the slackest, smallest rippable doable. And where the surf’s small the risk (or perceived risk at least) is minimal making these waves arguably more fun.
Paddling off, away from the pack, to that no wave spot around the corner will see much more smile factor than battling for rides, dealing with potential agro, and generally enduring those bad vibes. We appreciate it isn’t like this everywhere. But there’s still negativity directed at SUP surfers from some corners.
A SUP board is a vehicle and mode of transport if nothing else. Utilising that portability, combined with wave riding performance, is a great way to maximise your equipment’s potential. And then, of course, when the swell fades you’re free to just paddle on flat water and still enjoy the experience. There aren’t many watersports disciplines that deliver so highly on the versatility front…
Check out more from McConks on the topic of SUP surfing below –