Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in America. From Hawaii to California, New York and even Tennessee, people from coast to coast are getting into the action.
With more than 1 million participants and sales in upwards of $1 billion, stand-up paddleboarding has quickly become a favorite among beginners because it’s relatively easy. The sport was rated the most popular outdoor activity for first-time participants in a 2013 recreation report by the Outdoor Foundation.
In Redondo Beach, California, stand-up paddleboarding has become so popular in the local King Harbor that the city council is considering restrictions on the number of rental shops.
“I’m surprised the boat owners haven’t raised more of a stink about it,” Mayor Steve Aspel told The Daily Breeze newspaper. “The brand-new paddleboarders have no idea where they’re going. On a Sunday afternoon, it’s really congested out there.”
Over the next month, the council will be looking toward some kind of regulation as the popularity of the sport only looks to be growing. An Outdoor Industry Association report estimated there were 1.2 million participants in 2011, up 18 percent from 2010.
These days, you can find a place to rent a stand-up paddleboard just about anywhere such as New York harbor. Fishermen are using them more in Florida. And even outfitters in Nashville, Tennessee offer guided yoga classes on paddleboards from nearby Percy Priest Lake
“It’s a crazy idea to a lot of people, but that’s what makes it so fun. You come out here with no expectations. You might stand up, you might not. You might fall in, you might not,” said Liz Veyle of Nashville Paddle Company told The Tennessean.
Several factors early on demonstrated that stand-up paddleboarding was here to stay. One was the advocacy by professional surfers like Laird Hamilton, who showed you could use stand-up boards to paddle into large waves much easier than you can a surfboard.
Another is the abundance of professional competitions and associations in recent years. There’s the World Paddle Association, Stand Up World Tour, US SUP Tour and the American Canoe Association, which includes a greater number of stand-up paddleboarders each year.
It’s in Bend, Oregon that Hawaiin Dave Chun and his wife meg run Kialoa Paddles. Chun’s decision to move to Bend and grow the sport in one of the most unlikely places is more proof that stand-up paddleboarding had reach beyond the islands. While the company started producing outrigger paddles, stand-up paddles now account for two-thirds of the 25,000 paddles they produce annually.
To get into the sport is relatively easy with most boards costing around $1,000. Perhaps the most expensive board goes for $75,000 if you can believe.
According to the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association stand-up paddleboards accounted for 22 percent of total surfboard sales with the entire surf/skate market group estimated at $5.6 billion in 2012.