Standup paddle boarding (SUP) has been rapidly growing in numbers worldwide since renowned Hawaiian ocean athletes Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama set about bringing the sport back from obscurity in the 1990s.
SUP has long been a tradition of the Polynesian people, with the original Beach Boys of the 60s standing up on their longboard surfboards and using an outrigger canoe paddle to move around. Soon though prone surfing overtook it in terms of popularity and over the next few decades standup paddle boarding was reduced to a distant memory.
Laird and Dave stumbled back across SUP by pure chance when messing about during a spell of no surf in Maui, Hawaii. The pair started trying to stand up on their longboard surfboards and paddle them round with outrigger canoe paddles. This one act rapidly led to the renaissance of the sport, and currently SUP is a fast growing in numbers.
The main reason for SUP’s popularity is the accessibility. Using a single blade paddle to propel yourself on an oversized surfboard, it is one of the easiest watersports to master.
Initially you don’t need any specific conditions – all you need is access to a stretch of water.
Perfect paddling for all levels
Hayling Island has rapidly become a centre of excellence for SUP offering enthusiasts a variety of launch spots and conditions.
After mastering the basics, there are a number of possible routes to take. SUP allows the opportunity to ride waves like a conventional surfer would, cover long distances or just cruise around the island’s many nooks and crannies at a leisurely pace.
Needing only one board and one paddle, you can idly glide around the Chichester and Langstone Harbours or mix it up in the waves. Standup paddle boarders are now a common sight on the sand bar at west Beachlands at low tide, riding the waves that form offshore.
SUP has been steadily growing on the island, due in part to many key industry players and promoters being based on Hayling and actively encouraging SUP’ers to visit.
Steve West, allround paddle sports guru and CEO of the ASI (Association of Surfing Instructors) European SUP coaching arm, Allan Cross, National SUP Festival director, and Tez Plavenieks, SUP UK website editor, all live on the island, regularly participate in the sport and encourage more people to give it a go.
Many other enthusiasts use Hayling as a SUP training ground. The UK Distance Champion, Ryan James, is often seen putting in the miles around the Chichester Harbour area, and on any given day you will usually see someone paddling.
If you’ve ever fancied getting involved with some kind of watersport SUP is the perfect one to try. For those who are already paddling, why not check out Hayling the next time you fancy a trip?
- The western end of Beachlands is the favoured launch off the sea front. This is where you will find waves on the right forecast.
- Plenty of flat water cruising options lie in Chichester and Langstone Harbour. An understanding of tides is key when paddling here and you must respect the local wildlife.
- Andy Biggs Watersports and CBK offer hire.