NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

August 25, 2010

What's SUP?

Old sport gains new following

1Seabrook's Zapstix Surf Shop employee James Morse said stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, has "exploded" in the area the last couple of years.

"It's definitely taking over New Hampshire," he said. "The last few weeks I've been working, more people are looking at stand-up paddleboards than surfboards."

Morse said like surfing, SUP has been around for a long time and no one knows exactly where or when it was invented, but it likely originated from Tahitians and Fijians.

"The kings back in the day were probably doing it," Morse said.

In recent years, it gained a resurgence as pro-surfers like Laird Hamilton converted to the sport.

"It's the fastest growing sport in the country right now," said Plum Island surfer Ross Kunkel, who works at Cinnamon Rainbows surf shop in Hampton, N.H. "It's been huge in California and Hawaii for a while, but it's new for New England and the East Coast in the last couple years."

Kunkel said Cinnamon Rainbows began carrying stand-up paddleboards about three years ago, and it has grown from just a few employees dabbling in the sport to the shop needing a new rack to store its stock of 24 boards.

"We've increased the inventory 10-fold," he said.

Surfers are converting to the sport because, unlike the steady swells of the West Coast, Central America and Hawaii, New England waters can be hit or miss on waves, Morse said. He calls SUP "flat day fun" for surfers because it provides a workout and something to do when there are no waves.

"You gotta have something to do when it's flat," Morse said. "It's similar to surfing because you can ride waves on it, but it's different because you don't need waves to ride it."

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