Cool Summer Fun: Stand Up Paddling

Saturday, June 05, 2010


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Are they kayakers?  Are they gondoliers? Are they having fun?

No, no, and definitely yes.

Stand up paddle surfing (yes, they call it SUP) is the summer's hottest new way to play on the water, whether exploring a South County pond, navigating a narrow canal in Westport, or playing (with a little practice) in the surf of Newport. 

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Stand-up came from Hawaii (and is called Hoe he'e nalu there), where surf instructors in the 1960s would paddle upright to keep an eye on their charges. Fast forward to the retro-surf-loving 2000s, and throw in a few celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, and Pierce Brosnan standing up and paddling the coastline while the paparazzi snaps, and you've got a trend.

You've also got a cool workout, because staying balanced, plus twisting to paddle your board canoe-style, engages your core and utilizes a bunch of major muscle groups including upper back, arms, and legs.  Not to mention, you can get places.

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How to get started? It's easy.  Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures in Westport, MA offers beginners an easy two-hour intro session on the forgiving waters of the Westport River, every Saturday at high tide, for $55. You'll get familiar with the board, water entry, balance, proper stance and positioning, efficient paddling technique, safety, and even etiquette.  Once you've got your sea-legs, consider a guided cruise along the Westport or Slocum Rivers, or Padanaram Harbor and the Apponagansett estuary.  Really getting the hang of it?  Osprey guides coastal cruises on open water from Gooseberry Beach in Little Compton.  The sky... or sea... is the limit. Guided tours are Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 4-6pm, and Sundays 9-11am, and run $40.  Reservations are required.

Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures, 508-636-0300,

Photos Samantha Ladd

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