Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) on the Costa del Sol
Paddleboarding is the water sport where one is supported lying, kneeling or standing on a paddleboard or surfboard in the water, propelling oneself with arms in a swimming-like motion or with a paddle.
It was first observed in the Pacific by Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands in 1778. Thomas Edward Blake is credited as the pioneer in paddleboard construction in the early 1930s. The sport also experienced a renaissance in California in the 1980s.
A modern derivative of paddleboarding is 'Stand up Paddleboarding' or SUP for short or Surf de remo in Spanish. This sport is usually performed in the calm sea or a lake as larger waves or strong winds make it challenging. It was practiced in Tarifa in 2011 and became popular in other parts of Andalucía by 2015.
The origins of the sport are in Africa where it was common to stand on a kayak for better visibility when fishing. Lifeguards in Israel, Australia and California have practiced the same to watch over the swimmers.
In the 1990s Stand up Paddleboarding was taught at Hawaiian surf schools as an alternative way to surf when there was little swell. This practice became increasingly popular and by the early noughties competitions were held. The sport spread to Tarifa in summer 2011 and other parts of Andalucía by 2015.
Stand up paddlers wear wet suits or neoprene suits depending on water and air temperature. These can be thinner than for surfing since most of the time is spent out of the water. Life jackets are recommended though not yet mandated in Spain as they are in some other water sports. An ankle-tied leach is also recommended to tie the person to the board, which is the flotation device in the event of difficulty.
New SUP board prices range from 300 euro upwards. They can be purchased from water sports centres on the Coast or sports chains such as Decathlon in Málaga or Algeciras.
Most SUP boards are constructed from a glass reinforced plastic exterior with an expanded polyurethane interior. Inflatable boards have been introduced as well.
The boards are generally longer than 2.7 metres with features such as padded decks and concave hulls; they generally have one or three surfboard-style fins in the stern for tracking.
Shorter boards, which are more manoeuvrable and made out of high-performance carbon fibre, are used in Stand Up Paddle Surf competitions. Race boards can be longer.
DIFERENT SUP BOARDSThere are a number of different types of stand up paddleboards:
A smaller, wider board that is more manoeuvrable and stable in waves.
Wide boards that are designed for long periods and long distances.
Boards for competitions, fine-tuned and harder boards, less stable.
Advanced boards toughened underneath. Not for beginners. Helmets should be worn with SUP in rivers.
Adapted for concentration and balance
SCHOOLS AND COURSES
Many of the water sport centres on the Atlantic Coast and the Mediterranean Coast offer SUP courses and equipment rental.
Introductory courses usually last from two to four hours. They can be individual or in small groups.
Boards can also be rented by the day, for beginners or professional custom boards.