When Buck, a ski-patrol buddy of mine, told me last winter that he was training to become a stand-up paddling instructor with Potomac Paddlesports, I was fascinated. He told me that during the summer, he’d be taking groups of students and fellow SUP aficionados to the C&O Canal National Park near Old Angler’s Inn, where they’d head out to still water, stand on large, inflatable surfboards and propel themselves through the water with a large paddles.
Incredible, right? I got really excited about pitching what I was certain was a cool new story about an emerging fitness trend, imagining all the magazines whose readers would be as fascinated as I was. Not long after that, SKI magazine published a piece about how SUP can help build a “crud-ready core,” and hone your balance in the off-season. A search on Outside magazine’s website turns up hundreds of items, including a story about people doing yoga on paddleboards. The Washington Post even wrote a blog post about Buck and his band of merry SUP-ers, and included SUP on its Summer Bucket List.
But just because I’m late to the party doesn’t mean I can’t join in, and last night, I got the chance to take a lesson with Buck. It was a gorgeous night to be on the Potomac, and Buck filled me in on the history of the C&O Canal National Park and of the sport as we walked from the Old Angler’s Inn parking lot down to the river. Turns out we’re *all* kind of late to the party, considering SUP actually started centuries ago in Hawaii or Polynesia, as a precursor to canoes.
As soon as we got on the water, I understood why the party’s so big—SUP is a freaking blast! I’m obviously biased, since Buck’s a good friend, but he was a fantastic instructor, and after a few quick lessons on how to get back on the board after falling, how to actually stand up and how to paddle forward, we were cruising down the river, chatting as if we were in a coffee shop. You know how people sometimes meet for a walk rather than a meal? I’d like to conduct all meetings, personal and business, while floating down a calm river on large, inflatable surfboards.
Buck also showed me the paddle strokes that racers use, which left me breathless, and gave me an understanding of how this could be a serious workout if you wanted it to be. I also learned that the people who are really good at SUP do it in rapids. Mind-blowing.
I was happy to just float along and be in the beautiful moment on the river.
Have you ever tried SUP? If so, what did you think?