By Mary Katherine Stump
Don’t let the barefoot, strapping 20-somethings with the sideways caps at Nomad Surf and Sport fool you — they’ve got a sport for the non-risk takers on the beach: stand-up paddleboarding.
“The great thing about stand-up paddling is that you don’t have to be pro to do it,” says Ryan Heavyside, manager of Nomad Surf Shop. “You can be a young kid all the way to a grandfather and it’s something you can pick up pretty easily.”
Similar to a surfboard, but longer and wider, the stand-up paddleboard is made to use in calm water. As long as you have the upper body strength to paddle and the ability to balance yourself, it’s something you’ll be able to pick up in a week, if not a day.
“Tourists love it because they can pick it up their first time out on the water,” said Cheryl Peters, manager of East Coast Surf and Sport in Boca. “I do a lot of lessons for the Boca Hotel. The guests love it because they can see the fish. One lady even decided to pay for board rentals instead of day camp for her kids.”
The most popular time to get out on the ocean, or the Intracoastal Waterway, is early in the morning before the winds and the mid-afternoon storms kick up. It’s a great way to get your day started and a fun way to spend time with your family.
Joey and Emma Coz of Ocean Ridge consider themselves surfers, but have transitioned to stand-up paddle boarding during the summer months because of the smaller waves.
“We’ve been doing it since Father’s Day,” says Joey, which was when the teenagers gave their father the family’s first board.
The sport provides a good workout and helps to strengthen the abs, lower back, shoulders and arm muscles. It’s a great alternative to the gym, where there’s not much to distract you from the work you’re putting in. On the water it’s easier to forget that you’re exercising, especially when you’re spending time with loved ones, or getting a close-up view of wildlife.
“Some people are paddleboarding for weight loss, others are doing it for strength and endurance,” said Peters. “My husband has lost over 30 pounds since he started paddling regularly.”
John Parton of Fox Surfboards has been custom manufacturing boards in Lake Worth for 40 years, and in the last two years has started building paddleboards. He says he enjoys paddleboarding “because the standing up is easier than rubbing your ribs raw on a surfboard. And the view is better. It’s like being on a boat — you can look down at the bottom of the ocean and it allows you to see a swell coming far in advance.”
Local sales and rentals have picked up during the summer and Peters expects sales will continue to grow during the winter months. Boards range in price from $1,000 to $1,600 and at most locations rentals average $25 for half a day, $40 for the full day.
“Let’s face it. Even in the winter in South Florida, the waves aren’t huge. I expect sales are going to continue to go up, especially as folks start shopping for presents during the holidays.”
Adds Parton, “It’s not going to be as big as, say, bicycling, but the potential for this sport is great because it is a sport the whole family can do.”
Where to rent or purchase stand-up paddleboards:
Nomad Surf Shop
4655 N. Ocean Blvd. Boynton Beach, FL 33435-7362
East Coast Surf and Sport
831 E. Palmetto Park Road Boca Raton, FL 33432
Lani Kai Mana
280 NE Second Ave. Delray Beach, FL 33444
Boca Surf and Sail
3501 N. Federal Highway Boca Raton, FL 33431-5945
John Parton, Fox Custom Surfboards