Stand up paddle surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. The sport was documented in a 2013 report that identified it as the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants in the United States that year. Variations include flat water paddling for outdoor recreation, fitness, or sightseeing, racing on lakes, large rivers and canals, surfing on ocean waves, paddling in river rapids (whitewater SUP), Paddle board yoga and even fishing.
Stand up paddlers wear a variety of wet suits and other clothing, depending on water and air temperature since most of their time is spent standing on the board.
A related, traditional sport, paddleboarding, is done kneeling on a board and paddling with the hands, similar to a butterfly swimming stroke. The term “paddleboarding” is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to stand up paddle surfing.
Historian and writer Steve West claimed that the contemporary notion of stand up paddle boarding, if attributed to the Waikiki Beach Boys of Oahu during the 1960s, considers that outrigger canoeing should be recognised as the direct link between the idea of standing on a board and propelling it with a canoe paddle, since the individual SUP skills (board riding and paddling) already existed, used by people who had traditionally grown up learning them.
SUP originated in Africa where it was common practice for individuals to stand on their canoes and use their paddle to propel themselves forwards. This method was used by warriors in an attempt to conduct stealth attacks.
The contemporary form of the sport originated in the 16th century where Hawaiian surfers would surf on boards of up to 5 meters in length. These surfers used a paddle to operate boards that were otherwise unwieldy.
SUP continued in Tel Aviv in the twentieth century where lifeguards stood on wide boards to ensure a clear view of possible swimmers in distress. The lifeguards used a paddle to propel them through the water quickly to rescue swimmers.
In the 1940s Waikiki surf instructors Duke Kahanamoku and Leroy and Bobby AhChoy began SUP as a way to stand on their boards during incoming swells, known as Beach Board surfing.
In the 1990s SUP was taught at Hawaiian surf schools as an alternative way to surf when there was little swell. This practice became increasingly popular so surf instructor Brian Keaulana decided to add ‘’Beach Boy Surfing’’ to the world-recognized ‘’Buffalo Big Board Contest’’ in 2003. The response to this new category was overwhelming, with many recognized surfers choosing to partake.
SUP races became common; in 2012 Kai Lenny won the seasons finals of the first Standup World Series championship races.
The first magazine devoted to the sport, Standup Journal, was founded in June 2007.