Stand up paddle surfing, SUP racing, touring SUP, white water stand up paddle boarding, recreational paddling and so on…You’ve heard all the terms, no doubt read all the pigeon-holed descriptions and are probably aware of a few more disciplines within the discipline, so to speak. And that’s how it’s been since stand up’s renaissance in the early noughties. Paddlers have been more or less defined what type of board they ride, where they paddle and how they do it. But in recent times SUP’s evolved. And for the majority of paddlers the choice of an iSUP remains the piece of kit fit for purpose. So much so that the biggest percentage of floating blade wielders can be referred to as ‘all round’. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that…
You buy your board, paddle and apparel to get afloat then it’s a case of doing the thing. And that’s regardless of wherever, whenever and however. If there’s a bump you try and ride it. If there’s something to discover/inspect in the distance then off you pop. The rest of your family fancy a go? No probs: here’s the gear and away they head. Perhaps you find yourself next to an inland stretch of water. Time to get that float kit! It doesn’t matter what length, width or volume of board you’ve chosen it’s all game for a SUP. And there’s the thing. There really aren’t any descriptive boundaries that apply here: it’s all just SUP. It’s not ever a sport, as some might consider other hobbies to be.
Of course, there are still plenty who subscribe to a particular type of paddling and those who do see SUP as a sport. In these cases you can still attribute the aforementioned titles based on the paddling discipline being practised. For anybody into recreational SUP (currently) who’s looking to progress this may be of interest. Having these descriptive terms will give a little direction for pathway choices. Yet the majority aren’t really bothered. And why should they be? Stand up can be practised without having to consider any parameters. Without boundaries, after all, is a way to broaden the mind. Only when you try and condense things down and begin pinning labels on things do we get hemmed in, build metaphorical walls and effectively shut down to other possibilities. (This isn’t strictly true of SUP as stand up has actually helped broaden people’s activity horizons. But you get the point).
SUP is just SUP these days: one board, one paddle, for anyone to go anywhere, anytime. This is how it should be. And for something that perhaps struggled with identity back in the day (is it a paddle sport, is it a surf sport debates etc?) then now we have it: SUP’s just SUP.