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Why I SUP - 15 ways to fall in love with paddleboarding

Have you tried SUP yet? Read this and you'll be inspired to "get on board."

By Diana Lee

My love for the water began with swimming and lifeguarding lessons.

Then I got into canoe camping and would disappear into different provincial parks on long paddling trips.

When water conditions were choppy, I’d pop on a skirt and hop into a kayak.

Racing with 20+ people in a dragonboat? Count me in!

As someone who is happiest around water and enjoys all kinds of paddling sports, it was while I was surfing in Hawaii when I first discovered SUP, thewater sport I now can’t live without. While I was exhausted and lying down on my surfboard, I watched a stand-up paddleboarder catch waves effortlessly, paddling back out to the line-up and—checking in on other fellow surfers scattered around—standing up the entire evening!

When I returned home to Toronto, I was thrilled to find SUPGirlz, one of the first stand-up paddleboarding companies in the city! After taking my first lesson six years ago, SUP is now not only my passion that I feed all year long, but it’s (in my opinion :-) the best way to connect to nature, unwind and relax, explore new waterways… the list of all the things I love about SUP is endless!

So, to give you a highlight of that epically long list, here are some of my recommended ways to experience stand-up paddleboarding that will make you fall in love with this sport (if you haven’t already):

1. Sunrise / Sunset SUP

No two sunrises or sunsets are the same. Being on a SUP allows you to be so close to the water, you can feel the sun energizing you as it rises! Even if you’re not a morning person, you have to experience at least one sunrise SUP session, then you’ll know what I mean. 

Sunsets are equally as breathtaking, and paddling out from Cherry Beach to watch the sun set behind the city is my favourite way to unwind from a busy work day.

2. Night SUP

The cloak of night changes the way you experience the water. Where you paddle during the day will be totally different at night. Special lights under the board (or sometimes built into a paddle), or the natural light from a full moon (or even a super moon), help to illuminate the way.

Seeing the Canada Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay with the SUPGirlz is one my most memorable night paddle sessions.

3. Yoga SUP

Combine the tranquil effects of the water with the zen of practicing yoga.

4. Whitewater/River SUP

For those of you who like whitewater rafting (me, me, me!), you can put your SUP skills (particularly your balance of course) to the test! When I first tried river SUP, it was a great reminder that falling is not a bad thing—it means you’re learning something new and building on your skills. Look for courses to get that whitewater SUP adrenaline fix!

5. Touring/Expedition SUP

With a long distance SUP trip, it can be about the destination and the journey! Like running, you can start with 5 km, then 10 km, then, steadily increase those kilometres! The longest distance I’ve paddled so far was 35 km at one of the earlier SUP4MS events, and I hope to increase that distance one day. If you’re just starting out, a paddle from Ashbridges Bay over to Scarborough Bluffs is doable on a nice day (approximately 14 km).

6. SUP Racing  

After dragonboat racing for several years, I’m not as interested in competitive paddling anymore, but I did try a couple of SUP races and would suggest that everyone try at least one! My first race was at the Eastern Canada SUP Championship (a flat and easy course), though my recommendations for newbies getting into SUP racing would be to check out the Ontario SUP Series(super friendly SUP race series). The Grand River Challenge is a fun one to try (yay for mini-rapids)!

7. Downwind SUP

When there’s wind swell, then there’s another fun way to expand your SUP skills! Some of my friends are really into this, and it’s great learning from them—how they watch the weather, plan the route and board pick-up logistics (since there’s no paddling back to the starting point in high winds), and how they handle those bumps on the water!

And if you’re looking for more waves then there’s…

8. SUP Surfing

This is another area I’m working on, but the thrill of catching a wave is amazing! While waiting for the right weather conditions for SUP surfing in Toronto, it’s good to build on your SUP skills so when those waves come, you’ll be ready!  

9. Camping via SUP

Island hopping, campfires, and sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors next to the lake… this is an absolute must for those who love camping! Packing ultralight is key (unless you’ve got a canoe support crew ;-) and will help during those portages!

Read the rest of Diana's paddlboarding list on the Northern Ontario Blog!

Whether you’re new to stand-up paddleboarding or you’re a seasoned SUP paddler racing in the Elite category, what do you love the most about this sport?

How many of these SUP experiences have you tried?

What SUP adventures will you go on this summer?

Check back for some more SUP inspiration and don’t hesitate to connect on Instagram or Twitter to see what’SUP ;-)

Article courtesy of Northern Ontario

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