From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

What SUP?

Chesapeake SUP Challenge 2013 - photo by Dan Phelps
Chesapeake SUP Challenge 2013 – photo by Dan Phelps

Anyone who has lazy bones in their bodies, as I do, may not rush out to try a sport often touted as a “good core workout.” In fact, we may hear “blah, blah, work, blah” and avoid it. This, I fear, may be keeping some prospective stand-up paddleboarders from trying it. They hear that old core workout bit and don’t bother.

Before I get to the part about racing, I want to emphasize the versatility of the stand up paddleboard (SUP). Just as some wear their running shoes to run marathons and others don them to wander around eating ice cream cones, you don’t have to race or work hard with a paddleboard. Any paddleboard can be a great platform for quietly, slowly meandering in the shallows, bird-watching, sunset gawking, paddling on your knees, doing yoga poses (I prefer the corpse), sunbathing, napping, taking a little time out from your cruising partner, goofing off with kids, and delivering beer to fellow sailors in an anchorage. That you may be working your abdomen muscles a bit is a bonus.

I don’t share this because I get a commission if you buy a SUP; I explain it because there have only been a few sports I have tried in life that had me at hello, and one of them was paddleboarding. If you think of SUP as yet another toy in your water fun collection, just another way to enjoy the water, rather than the key to great abs, you may try it, too.

Those who do crave competition have more opportunities than ever. On July 12, East of Maui Boardshop of Annapolis will host its second Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge at Eastport YC (EYC). At last year’s event, 73 competitors in a wide age range showed up to paddle a three-and-a-half-mile short course or a six-and-a-half-mile long course. SUP racers started at 9:30 a.m., some finishing around 11 a.m., and enjoyed a party with awards, live music, and a keg at EYC. East of Maui also hosted mini-clinics and demos in the early afternoon.

“This was my first event. It was a fantastic experience,” says Annapolis Etchells sailor Jose Fuentes. “I would have never considered entering a race except this was EYC hosting, and why not? I have started training already for next year in hopes they start doing more such events. I had my granddaughters join me after the race, and we all had a great time at the club. You should absolutely consider it. I did the short course. They posted three-and-a-half miles but it was actually four; and it wasn’t that hard. Lots of fun to be had, and EYC was a great host.”

Annapolis racing sailor Shannon Hibberd also competed in the event. She writes, “I bought a board in April, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. The SUP Challenge was a blast! Very challenging for me as a first-timer (I’m still trying to learn proper paddling technique). I learned a ton at the race, which is part of the reason I wanted to do it. I had a few more experienced paddleboarders giving me tips while I was out there (as they passed), which helped a lot.”

Like mine, Hibberd’s SUP is not meant for racing. For her, the top benefit of the race was meeting more SUP enthusiasts. “The party was fun (loved the music and veggie burgers) and a great opportunity to meet up with other paddlers. I made a few connections with other beginners and compared notes about the race. I hope there will be more SUP racing events in the area, so I can keep challenging myself and hopefully improve my time.”

Try SUP in Annapolis

  • East of Maui offers SUP rentals, lessons, and group paddles on Tuesday evenings.
  • Annapolis Canoe and Kayak offers SUP rentals, lessons, and group paddles on Tuesday evenings.
  • Quiet Waters Park offers SUP basic and advanced courses, tours, and yoga.

The managing editor of SpinSheet and PropTalk Magazines, Molly Winans explores the creeks on her paddleboard all summer long.

Written by: Molly Winans

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