SUP History

SUP History

Paddleboarding has a hawaiian heritage  and translates in hawaiian to Ku Hoe He’e Nalu; to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave. It’s history dates back to the 1950’s when the beachboys (surf instructors) on Waikki Beach used to stand up and paddle out to the surf break using their regular surf boards and a one bladed paddle. They did this because the higher view point offered by the sup style provided better visibility of their group and incoming swells.  Also, it allowed them to keep their wealthy customers cameras dry and take pictures of them surfing!! As surfing developed and fashions changed, the paddle was lost and only a few surfers in Waikki continued to stand on their board and use a paddle.

Charlie Force stand up and paddle

There are also stories about Charlie Force, a carpenter and builder from the UK  who in 1953 designed and built a hollow wooden surfboard which he successfully rode in Newquay Bay. So there is evidence of SUP surfing in the UK some 50 years before it became popular in the UK.

 “Many people think it’s a new watersport…but it’s not!”

However, in the early 2000’s the paddle made a return to surfing when Hawaiian surfers such as Dave Kalama, Brian Keaulana, Rick Thomas, Archie Kalepa and Laird Hamilton started paddleboarding as an alternative way to train and keep in shape, while the surf was down. And the sport has continued to develop since then.

stand up and paddle barrel

Today, due to modern technologies and designs, paddleboards are lighter and more maneuverable, and paddles are lighter and more powerful. This has enabled paddleboards to have a much broader use e.g. surfing / flat water cruising / racing / white water paddling/ fishing / all round paddling and for just having fun on! There are now many different types of paddleboards on the market for people to choose from, to suit their paddleboarding needs. For example race SUPs, wave SUPs, all-rounder SUPs, fishing SUPs, ocean rescue SUPs etc… What you choose to do on a SUP is really up to you.

where will you stand up and paddle

 Check out more from WaSUP in the Why SUP and What SUP Board Pages