Take a stand for fun

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This article was originally published by The Australian. Read the original article here: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,24814211-5018061,00.html

Fred Pawle | December 17, 2008

The toy of this summer for anyone who loves the ocean and wants to stay fit is the stand-up paddle board. “It’s the fastest growing water sport in the world,” says Chris de Aboitiz of the Stand Up Paddle Surfing shop in Noosa, Queensland.

So popular, in fact, that even pro surfers are getting into it.

World number four Joel Parkinson, fresh from winning the Triple Crown in Hawaii and scoring a perfect score during a heat in the Pipe Masters, raved to The Australian about how rewarding these huge boards are.

But it’s harder than it looks. “It looks deceptively easy,” Parkinson said. “You look at people and think, I can do that. It looks too easy. But I started on the biggest kook board there is, and I haven’t got off it yet. I’m just starting to tame it now. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get onto the smaller pro model but not yet.”

The biggest obstacle is actually steering the thing over waves and out the back of the waves. Parkinson recommends learning on flat water in a river or a lake. “You can’t just jump on it and go out,” he says.

After that, the joys are immense. “The reward of catching a wave, even if it’s a total piece of junk wave, is so much fun. It’s not like you’d want to surf it in good waves. But there are days when the waves are small and it’s not very crowded, you can just find your own spot down the beach and have an absolute blast.

“It’s good for anybody to do, but you’ve got to watch where you do it. It’s a big board, and if it hits you it’s dangerous.”

“It’s such a simple pleasure, and a good workout,” de Aboitiz said. “A lot of people are getting into it to get fit, and you don’t have to go in the surf, a lot of people are going on the river.”

De Abotiz recommends buying from a specialty store. Buying a board that is too short or narrow will make learning too difficult for many. Parkinson can attest to that. A complete kit with paddle costs about $1500.

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