WHAT IS THIS SUP THING? Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP, may feel like it’s exploded onto the water out of no where in the last five years but it actually has a very long history.
Captain James Cook witnessed the Hawaiian people surfing in 1778 when he sailed into the Hawaiian Islands.
There are reported records of a form of Stand Up Paddleboarding having existed for around 3,000 years.
The Hawaiian people would surf on canoes or boards carved from a Koa tree. These boards were very large, ranging from two to five metres and a paddle was used with the boards to paddle out and onto the waves.
It’s thought that SUP originated in Africa where warriors would use the method to stand on their canoes and use a paddle to propel themselves when they were attacking, fishing, or using the SUP as a form of travel. However, there are also records of SUP over many other regions including South America, Israel, Italy and China dating back thousands of years. Modern day Stand Up Paddleboarding, where a surfboard type board is used with a paddle, has its origins in Hawaii. There are some reports that
More recent SUP history still has its basis in Hawaii from the early 1900s when surfing legends like Duke Kahanamoku and Bobby AhChoy were teaching surfing and would stand on their boards to get a better view of their students and sometimes using a paddle to steer the board. These surfers were at the helm of what became known as ‘Beach Boy Surfing’ and
would often stand up on their boards with paddles. In the 1990s in Hawaii Stand Up Paddleboarding was starting to be taught as an alternative to surfing when there wasn’t enough swell. The practice began to gain a lot of popularity. In the early 2000s Stand Up Paddleboarding had started to become a discipline on its own, whereas previously it still had been an alternative surfing method. In 2003, Beach Boy Surfing or Stand Up Paddleboarding was added as a new category to the Buffalo Big Board Contest, and remains a category today. By 2005, the potential for SUP and its explosion in popularity globally saw the sport diversifying into having its own tour and racing, as well as being used on rivers and other bodies of water other than the ocean.