WhatSup? It stands for Stand Up Paddleboarding!
The History of Stand Up Paddleboarding
SUP Kids

People have been standing and paddling atop various watercrafts, like canoes, flat-bottom boats and kayaks, forever. But the sport of modern stand up paddling, or SUP, didn’t get its real start until 2000. At this time an extended spate of wave-free days prompted big wave surfers Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Brian Keaulana, Mel Pu’u and Bruce De Soto to search for something to fill the void.

They grabbed long boards and paddles and soon discovered they could still get a great work out on flat water!

The sport got a real boost in 2004 when Brian Keaulana introduced SUP as a division at his father’s famous surf event and party, Buffalo’s Big Board Classic.

But, the grandfathers of SUP came along long before any of these modern watermen were born. In 1950’s Wakiki, watersports and surf instructors known as “the beach boys” developed SUP as a method of taking pictures of their students surfing waves.

The boxy cameras they used back then were not waterproof, and in order to get photos of tourists on the water, these watermen decided to stand on long boards while paddling beside them. The results were happy tourists and the birth of a new watersport activity.

The new sport became know as “beach boy surfing” and found a following through the 60’s and 70’s. Original beach boy John Zabatocky is still paddle surfing in his 80’s.


Luckily, for those that do not surf, SUP can be done on any flat body of water making it ideal for sport enthusiasts who don’t crave the adrenaline rush of waves and speed. Stand up paddlers can be spotted on lakes, shallow estuaries and even rivers as well as the world’s oceans.

One advantage that SUP has that other paddle sports do not have is the view. Because they are upright rather than seated, stand up paddlers can easily spot creatures and formations on land or in water.

SUP provides a great workout as is utilizes nearly the entire body to perform the activity. Standing on an unstable surface like a paddle board engages the core, back, legs, and arms allowing you to burning more calories while having fun and sight seeing.

The sport is growing at such a fast clip that SUP events and races can be found wherever there is a body of water –even in colder climes like Alaska.

For those already involved in SUP or for those that haven’t yet tried it, the popularity of the sport shows no sign of abating. Sooner or later, wherever there is water, there is bound to be a SUP community.

The Stand Up Paddle Association | SUP – World Paddle Association | WPA