Hampton Union and Portsmouth Herald: What’s SUP?
By Amy Kane
HAMPTON — It’s a surfboard, but the surf is optional.
Stand-up paddle surfing, or paddleboarding — SUP, for short — is a water sport from Hawaii that exploded in popularity along the New Hampshire coast this summer.
“It’s different and new, and you can do it when there are no waves.”
With those words, Brian Warner, 12, an avid surfer who spends summers at Hampton Beach with his family, explains why he is interested in the stand-up way to get out on the water.
Brian is one of many people this past season who has taken advantage of a free SUP demo on the ocean across the street from Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop in Hampton Beach.
On a recent Friday evening, Brian and his dad, Eric, stopped by to try a couple of SUP boards in the calm cove at the far north end of North Beach.
The boards themselves are “super-stable picnic tables,” explained Kyle Linseman, an employee from Cinnamon Rainbows who has presented many demos this summer with boards from the shop.
SUP novices begin on their knees to get a sense of balance and paddle use, then stand up in the middle of the board with legs shoulder-length apart and toes pointing forward rather than in a classic sideways surf stance. Paddling is accomplished with long, smooth strokes.
“It can be a workout depending how hard you paddle, but it’s also meditative,” said Linseman. “It’s perfect for here in the summer, where we don’t get many big waves.”
Dave Cropper, owner of Cinnamon Rainbows, said the shop has been offering SUP boards for three years, but sales really took off this summer.
“It’s a great fitness sport, impact free, and a great core workout. I can’t say enough good about it,” said Cropper.
SUP boards retail from $799 to about $2,000. The surf shop does not rent boards at this time, but does offer private tours for $35 per person, including gear, instruction and an hour and a half paddle at your own pace through September.
“You do need some experience out on the water,” advised Linseman.
“The boards weigh 30 or 40 pounds and, if there’s wind, you are the sail. You need to be aware of situations that could come up.”
Linseman leads many of the private tours. He said he especially likes low tide and calm conditions. Rounding the point towards Plaice Cove, paddleboarders can spot fish and other sea life in the water around them.
Linseman invited his girlfriend for a paddleboard ride one night recently and the two of them marveled at the phosphorescence stirred up by gentle paddle strokes.
Nate Gilman, another Cinnamon Rainbows SUP instructor, said SUP boards are great for getting away from crowds of surfers fighting for waves.
You can catch a wave on a SUP board, too. Gilman recalls a sunset evening last summer when he was on his way to a concert in Hampton Beach and a friend let him borrow his SUP board to ride a few waves — which Gilman did barefoot, and never even got his jeans and button-down shirt wet.
Aaron Alzapiedi, 21, is an intermediate level surfer from Massachusetts who attended several SUP demos last summer and this summer with his friend Mike Shea. Paddling is easy, but catching waves is harder on a SUP board, he said.
“On a regular board, you’re on your stomach with the wave behind you and you are more stable when the wave hits,” he said.
Gary Porter, 24, recently moved to Hampton and was looking for things to do in the area when he read about SUP in an online chat forum and attended a demo. Porter inherited a long board from his grandfather and he surfs now and then, but thinks he may prefer SUP.
“I would do this more; it’s more my style,” he said.
Nancy Farrell, 49, of Hampton, attended a SUP demo for the first time. She liked the workout, and loved the perspective.
“In a kayak, you’re tucked in. When you’re standing on a board, you are elevated. It’s nice and peaceful, with a feeling of freedom.”