What’s ‘SUP?

Outdoor and exercise crazes come and go almost as fast as hairstyles and popular app games do. But every once in a while, a trend comes along that remains popular — think karate, which spiked in the ‘60s and again in the ’80s, and it can still be found in almost every American city to this day. Back in 2013, one such trend arose: the stand up paddleboard, or SUP for short.

The act of standing on a floating piece of wood in a surfboard shape and paddling (or poling) yourself along likely goes back thousands of years, but the SUP craze can be traced back to one man — and he’s not even in his 60s yet! That man is famous surfer Laird Hamilton, a household name in a sport that doesn’t usually generate them. And Laird, along with the Waikiki Beachboys, showed the world a new way to hit the water in the first decade of the 21st century.

Unlike other crazes, the gear was simple and the activity beginner-friendly. To start, you only need a paddle, a board, a life preserver, and of course, a place to go! It’s a new way to see the water, which only boosted its popularity. Even veteran water sports enthusiasts weren’t used to standing on the water instead of sitting in a boat! But according to the industry’s own numbers, that popularity never died down. As it turns out, SUP is a good way to get around, and a lot of folks need that. Many cities, such as San Antonio, feature “paddling trails” that let SUP practitioners see the city in a new way or even commute via their board. How cool is that?

If you’re looking for a new hobby this summer, it’s easy to rent a stand-up paddleboard and learn the basics. Take a class, head out into the water, and give it a shot. Who knows, you might be one of the thousands of Americans to discover a lifelong passion!