I am very proud that my article and photos have been shared in the Vaal River Leisure and Lifestyle Magazine.
Here is the full article I wrote:
Standing on Water
The sport of standup paddle boarding, or SUP as it is more commonly known, gives a unique perspective on the river. Standup paddle boarding is in essence just that: standing on a board and paddling. The boards are generally wider and longer then surfboards. The paddles single bladed.
Although the sport has old origins the modern sport of SUP only became popular from around 2006. SUP surfing in the ocean was the first part of the sport that became popular in Hawaii. From Hawaii the sport spread to other countries as well as new disciplines.
SUP now has many disciplines. SUP surfing in the ocean is still one of the most popular disciplines. This can be seen beaches all around the South African coats. Other SUP disciplines include flat water racing, ocean racing, whitewater, river surfing, SUP yoga, fishing, touring, polo and recreational paddling. Whitewater SUP is very new and first came to South Africa in 2013.
On the Vaal River we do fitness paddling, flat water racing, whitewater, recreational, fishing and river surfing. Whitewater and river surfing is done near Parys where there are rapids.
SUP gives you a new perspective when paddling. Being able to see further and due to standing up it is a truly unique experience. I have been coaching SUP now for three years I have not found anyone who could not SUP after an hour long lesson. Some people also enjoy paddling two-up with kids or pets. I believe there is a SUP discipline and board that suites everyone, you just have to find the part of the sport that interests you personally.
Paddling has always been great for fitness, but SUP is even more of a full body workout. You are applying power to the paddle with your upper body and then transferring this power to the board through your core and lower body. Muscles that will work while SUP paddling are from your arms, shoulders, back, abs, to your legs. SUP is also a no impact sport which is great if you are worried about injuries.
In essence you need a paddle and a board, but there are also safety considerations to keep in mind. I would recommend always paddling with a lifejacket or PFD (personal flotation device). A leash is also recommended. If you are separated from your board a leash will help you get back to it. Surfing in the ocean or paddling in the ocean a leash is a must.
Sun protection is always good in South Africa. A cap and suncream is part of my normal equipment. I also carry a mobile phone in a waterproof just as a precaution for emergencies.
For some specific disciplines of SUP you will need extra equipment. For ocean surfing a wetsuit might be needed depending on water temperature. For whitewater or river surfing you also need a helmet and a quick release belt for a river leash. Never put a normal leash around your ankle when paddling whitewater or river surfing.
When looking to buy a board there are a few things to remember. Firstly the longer the board the faster it will be. If you are paddling inland on larger bodies of water like rivers and dams a longer board will serve you better. Paddling longer distances on flat water especially with a bit of wind is much easier with a longer board. Short boards perform better where we need manoeuvrability like ocean surfing.
For the same length of board a wider board will give you more stability. Racing boards are in general more narrow to give more speed. Surf specific or whitewater specific models are wider to give more stability.
Boards can be constructed from different materials. Ocean SUP surfboards are often composite fibreglass boards with a foam core. Racing boards are often composited boards made from carbon fibre and also have a foam core. Some white water and recreational boards are rotationally moulded plastic. Another construction method that is now very popular is inflatable boards.
Composites boards are great for performance but they tend to be easy to damage. Plastic boards are very tough but they are also heavy compared to other boards. Inflatable boards are great as you can pack them in a backpack to travel with them. They are usually made from PVC or Hypalon and quite rugged.
For paddling long distances on flat water like the Vaal River or Vaal Dam I would recommend getting 12’6” or 14’ touring or race board. Inflatable or composite will be fine. Shorter boards will be hard work to paddle for long distances.
The best way to start is to join a club, demo day or go for coaching. Although anyone can SUP it is best to get some coaching in order to maximise your stroke efficiency. This will help with not getting injured, maximising training benefits and making you a safe paddler. Starting at a club, demo day or with a coach you will also have the opportunity to paddle different boards and make sure you get one that matches your paddling style and needs. Sporting equipment is expensive and buying the wrong equipment will be frustrating.
Would you like to try SUP? Do you have any questions?
www.LimeSUP.co.za or call Bertrand on 082 921 9427