Last week I had the chance to participate in the first ACA SUP ICW on the west coast, hosted by California Canoe & Kayak. After arriving home at 4:30am from Oregon, I had to be fresh and ready in Half Moon Bay by 10am. Not sure about fresh, but I was there and ready. Why am I taking an ACA SUP Instructor Workshop? I figured it would be fun and educational, I'd work with some great ACA instructors, meet some new people and see what the ACA has to say about standup paddleboarding. Personally, I really enjoy standup paddleboarding and am happy to see this program.
I entered the course with an open mind and wasn't dissapointed one bit. Part of what I enjoyed so much is that the program is still on the ground floor. We were trying things that haven't yet been determined as standard practices. Standup Paddleboarding is moving in leaps and bounds and I think it is appropriate for such a large paddlesports organization to create a program of safety and instruction. I can't see it being adopted by the hardcore paddle surfers, but certainly the recreational crowd - which is gigantic.
Since this was an ICW and not an IDW, the pace was very quick and participants were expected to know all the strokes and manuevers before attending. We were split down the middle with four of us coming with a paddling background and four with a surfing background. That division worked out to be advantageous since the crowd of new standup paddlers seems to be split as well. For three days we worked on teaching styles, SUP concepts, building on paddling skills, and generally all things SUP. It was an appropriate venue to bounce ideas off each other and try new things. I'm excited for where this may go. There are many people teaching SUP already, some with no background in paddle sports or teaching. I strongly believe they could all benefit from a course like this and would be doing their students a service.
My personal experience is that SUP is easy to pickup in flat water, but building technique, balance and speed takes time. if you want to paddle in moving water, surf, wind or in coastal conditions, you should be training your body with skill development and physical conditioning. Once you leave protected, windless waters SUP can be rather difficult and time on the board in dynamic conditions helps tremendously. If you want to be a good standup paddler, get yourself into good physical condition, take some paddling lessons and practice often. Your balance, control and speed will increase drastically as well as your enjoyment.