Sat­isfy that urge to surf

When the waves aren’t pound­ing the shore, find some calm wa­ter and try stand up pad­dling

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - For The Record - By Sharon Robb FORT LAUD­ERDALE »

Surf’s down, no prob­lem.

For frus­trated South Florida surfers, wait­ing for wind and waves to kick up at lo­cal beaches or hur­ri­cane sea­son to blow in with head-high or higher waves, there is an al­ter­na­tive.

Sev­eral surfers and wa­ter en­thu­si­asts in South Florida, in­clud­ing vet­eran surfer Ro­ray Kam, 47, of Fort Laud­erdale, have turned to stand up pad­dling.

Be­cause of the sim­plic­ity of the sport, men, women and kids of all shapes, sizes and ages are beginning to get in­volved.

For the sport to re­ally grow, the word needs to get out that stand up pad­dling on flat wa­ter, lakes, canals, wa­ter­ways or waves at the beach, is fun, easy and a great sport for or­di­nary peo­ple, Kam said.

Stand up pad­dling is so easy that peo­ple can learn it in 30 min­utes, he said.

“You just need a lit­tle bit of bal­ance but we can teach you how to bal­ance your­self,” Kam said. “Some peo­ple can get it right away, and some peo­ple can’t. It just takes a lit­tle time for those who can’t. Once they get it they are off and gone. They take off for hours at a time.”

Ev­ery Wed­nes­day in the early evening Kam and a small group of pad­dlers take turns on the wa­ter­ways pad­dling a mile and back off the beach area of Ge­orge English Park, one of the fa­vorite hot spots.

There are com­pet­i­tive races held in­clud­ing the Ho­bie Race Se­ries, which Kam just started racing and won the first two in Fort Laud­erdale and Mi­ami. The third race is in June in Mi­ami Beach. This sum­mer Surf World in Pom­pano Beach is host­ing a sum­mer race se­ries.

The gear, a board and pad­dle, start around $1,000. The sport is pretty de­tail-free. Just strap a board on top of the car or truck, tuck the pad­dle in the back seat and head to a body of wa­ter. The pad­dle is the same as an outrig­ger ca­noe pad­dle only longer for stand­ing up. The board, which can also be rented, is 10 feet or longer.

Kam, a Broward Sher­iff’s traf­fic of­fi­cer, has been a surfer most of his life. He grew up in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and started surf­ing as a kid. He is a cham­pion in outrig­ger ca­noe­ing and calls him­self “a water­man.”

Kam still surfs but since start­ing stand up pad­dling he’s lean­ing more to the new sport that he learned five years ago in Hawaii. He is de­sign­ing the Kam Is­lan­der Ark model pad­dle board and gives lessons to lo­cals to help more peo­ple get in­volved. The South Florida SUP Club is in the process of be­ing started and will meet on the sec­ond Wed­nes­day of ev­ery month at the Blue­fish Cafe.

Though stand up pad­dling orig­i­nated with the an­cient Hawai­ians, the sport was re-in­vented and pop­u­lar­ized in the last decade. The sport had gone vir­tu­ally un­no­ticed un­til ac­tress Jen­nifer Anis­ton was pic­tured stand up pad­dling in Hawaii last sum­mer. Big wave surfer and model Laird Hamil­ton has also helped to re­vive the sport by rid­ing waves and pad­dling across the English Chan­nel.

“It’s been around but no­body’s been do­ing it,” Kam said. “It just started com­ing back around in the last seven years and in the last cou­ple months you are see­ing more and more stand up pad­dle board­ers Ev­ery­body is start­ing to pick it up now since peo­ple are more into fit­ness. It’s go­ing to re­ally take off this sum­mer.

“This is some­thing you can do ev­ery day. Wher­ever it’s calm is where you first want to try it and then you can take it down to the beach and ocean side where it gets a lit­tle bumpy but that’s bet­ter for your core strength. You can pad­dle any time. It’s a great way to stay in shape and con­di­tion.”

Carey Wagner, Sun Sen­tinel

Ro­ray Kam, who grew up in Kailu­aKona, Hawaii, and calls him­self “a water­man,” does some stand up pad­dling off Ge­orge English Park in Fort Laud­erdale on Tues­day.

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