Satisfy that urge to surf
When the waves aren’t pounding the shore, find some calm water and try stand up paddling
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.”
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.