Samui Wining & Dining
STAND-UP PA DDLEBOARDING
Have fun and get fit with Naish SUP Samui.


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Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is an up and coming sport that is catching on in a major way around the world. Its history dates back to the 1950’s, when surf instructors in Hawaii used to stand up and paddle out to the surf break using their regular surfboards and a paddle. Standing on their boards provided them with better visibility of their training group. You’ve probably seen people on them around Samui and perhaps also even seen them doing yoga out at sea, but we’ll come to that in a bit.

        The sport has taken less than ten years to spread from the sea to nearly every body of water imaginable. Because you don’t need waves, the sport can be enjoyed on lakes, large rivers and canals. Some are brave enough to tackle river rapids or ride regular waves, all while standing. And because you’re standing up, you can enjoy a much better view of your surroundings. Around Thailand, you can easily navigate to nearby islands using one.

        The fitness aspect of stand-up paddleboarding can’t be avoided. As well as being fun and relaxing, you are getting a free full-body workout, and the board has become a popular platform for yoga lovers the world over.

Successfully holding a yoga pose is challenging enough on a mat that isn’t moving, so imagine what that’s like on a board with moving water underneath! You’ll definitely use muscles on the board that you wouldn’t need when you’re on terra firma.

         So how do you get started? Well, you’ll need a board, and the size of the board will be based on your weight and experience. Depending on where you’ll be doing it, some sort of life jacket might also be useful. Most importantly, you’ll need to make sure you dress for the conditions, and remember to wear sunscreen and sunglasses, because the reflection on the water will burn quicker than you think.

          It’s gaining in popularity almost daily, and is currently one of the fastest growing water activities in the world. It’s now even become a competitive sport, and the first Stand-up World Series races were held in Hawaii, in September 2012, and won by Kai Lenny. But the first race (seven miles in length) was held as far back as 2007, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe in California. There were 34 competitors, both men and women, from Lake Tahoe, Santa Cruz and San Diego, and the event turned out to be the beginning of the Ta-Hoe Nalu paddle festival. 2012 marked its sixth year, and it now draws over 4,000 spectators and 400 competitors.

          So you’ll probably be asking by now, how do you actually balance? Here are some tips. Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width apart. Keep your toes pointing forward, your knees bent slightly (this makes balancing easier) and your back straight, not hunched. Shift your weight on the board by moving your hips rather than your head. Try not to keep looking at your feet and keep only one hand on the paddle shaft, the other should be placed on the top end. Remember all this and you’ll look (and feel) like a pro.

          Okay, so we’ve convinced you to give it a try. Where can you go on Samui to test out your balancing skills? Naish SUP Samui is both a rental venue and SUP school. They are located on the beach at O.P. Bungalows in North Chaweng. It’s an ideal spot for stand-up paddleboarding as there are two islands nearby within easy paddle reach, and if you’re feeling brave or are experienced enough you can even go snorkelling or fishing from your board.

          Naish have two boards available. The ‘Mana’ board is wider and therefore more stable, so is better suited to beginners, SUP yoga and the odd spot of fishing. The ‘Nalu’ board is taller and thinner which makes it faster and therefore ideal for the more experienced paddler, and those wanting to paddle longer distances.They offer a delivery service to your hotel or villa too, and if you rent the board for three or more days, then delivery is free. How long can you rent the boards for? Well, however long you want.

          If you’re not feeling brave enough to tackle your new hobby on your own, they also offer lessons. Starting on firm ground, you’ll first learn some basics on the beach, including safety procedures. Next, you’ll head onto the water, where you’ll learn about specific weather and sea conditions and how to avoid injury or tiredness. Depending on how you’re progressing, you’ll also be taught how to catch and ride waves (depending on availability, of course. Samui is not known for its raging surf).

          You can be assured that their classes are a good combination of learning and fun. And if you fall, so what? Isn’t that what life is about? Falling is okay, as long as you get back up and try again.

          

 Colleen Setchell


 


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