Stand-up paddleboarding ‘an incredible way to experience the water’
Susan Young was intrigued when she saw people standing up on paddleboards as they moved through the water. Since then, she has become an avid stand-up paddleboarder over the past two summers.
“I saw people on the water standing up, and I saw people were doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards, so I wanted to get on the water,” Young said during a recent interview.
“It's probably the most therapeutic thing that I have done,” she said.
“I have a busy life. I have two small kids, and I am busy at work. And I put my phone down, and I got on that paddleboard and went out into the water, and it was amazing. It was mind-clearing. It didn't focus on anything other than paddling and taking in the fresh air. It is amazing, and I have fallen in love with it.”
Before getting on the water, however, Young found her way to Scotia SUP (Scotia Stand Up Paddleboarding) in Dartmouth, N.S., where she took an introductory course in how to enjoy the sport safely from instructor Alex Chandler.
Young said she enjoyed the course so much she took it several times and introduced it to friends, who enjoyed it as well.
“Going to Scotian SUP, I was able to rent the equipment, so I didn't have to commit to buying equipment at first,” she said. “I figured it was a good way to test it out and see if I liked it.”
Chandler told SaltWire recently Scotian SUP came into being to help people “not only learn to paddle but learn to paddle well.”
“We are getting people on the right equipment in the right conditions. With the right direction and support, people will almost 100 per cent of the time have great success,” Chandler said.
Chandler has many years of experience with several water sports but began to focus on stand-up paddleboarding because it affords flexibility other watersports do not.
“I was able to get on the water anytime I wanted. And in Halifax, there are so many diverse places to paddle. Whether it be lakes, ocean or rivers,” he said.
“It fit the bill for me because the other sports I enjoy are often dictated by mother nature, for instance, waiting for the wind or waiting for the ocean to deliver some waves. The accessibility of paddleboarding was very attractive to me. I could get on the water any time I wanted.”
He said the sport also offers diverse styles of equipment to suit different activities such as yoga on a paddleboard, paddling on flat water lakes, rivers, long-distance ocean paddling, racing and even overnight camping trips.
Chandler said stand-up paddleboarding evolved from surfing but brought the element of using the paddle to propel yourself through the water, as in kayaking or canoeing, combining elements from many watersports.
The paddler stands upright, propelling the board using a paddle with a shaft slightly longer than the paddler's height and an angled blade.
“The stand-up component is a beautiful merger between the paddle sports and the surf sports,” he said.
“Visually, the optics are much different than sitting in a kayak or a canoe because you are standing, which is quite intriguing. Standing gives you a different perspective of the water. And because you are standing, you are engaging all your muscles while maintaining balance on the board.”
The entry-level price point is about $600 for basic equipment. More advanced paddlers can spend upwards of $3,000 for high tech boards and paddles.
Scotia SUP offers the basic intro course for $100, including a three-hour equipment rental.
Chandler said he has trained paddlers as young as five up to people in their 70s, ranging from those experienced in paddle sports to people with little or no athletic conditioning or sports background.
"Stand-up paddleboarding is an incredible way to experience the water in Atlantic Canada, as well as a great form of physical exercise that is good for mental health and general well-being,” he said.
More information is available at scotiansup.com and Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia at ckns.ca.
Alex Chandler began Scotia SUP five years ago to instruct novice paddlers on stand-up paddleboarding throughout the Atlantic region.