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By John Cawrse
Stand Up Paddle or SUP, a new sport that has caught on quickly around the world and in Sayulita, is actually an ancient form of surfing originating in Hawaii. It re-emerged in the 1960‘s with the growing popularity of surfing. Hawaiian surf instructors would stand on their surfboards, using an outrigger canoe paddle to maneuver, in order to manage large groups of students and to take pictures of them learning to surf. In the early 2000‘s, Stand Up Paddle was made popular again by well-known surfers Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and others, who were searching for a way to cross-train when the waves were flat. SUP is now called the fastest growing water sport in the world.
My addiction to SUP started on a five-month trip to Sayulita in late 2008. Being surfers, my wife Amy, my young daughter Ava and I were looking for an activity we could do in the water as a family. We had rented one board previously in Bend, Oregon to see if we liked SUP. With that one test, we decided that SUP was the perfect family activity because we could do it together with Ava on the front of one of our boards, it was fun, easy and great exercise.
Time to get wet - and wet you will get on your first paddle out. Depending on the size and design of the board and your balance, you may only fall in once or you may fall in over and over again. A lesson will be of great help, teaching you about stance, technique and paddling, along with providing encouragement and support. Choppy water and wind are your enemy.
Early morning is a great time to start a paddle south from the main beach in Sayulita, along the edge of the rocks over to Playa de Los Muertos and out to Punta Sayulita. A pair of polarized shades will allow you to see right into the water as you check out rocks, fish and turtles. Wear a hat and sunscreen; bring water if you can. Plan on getting wet but having a blast. When you have your balance dialed in, try catching a few whitewater waves. Remember, controlling your board is essential to your safety and the safety of the people around you. Being a beginner is not an excuse for running someone over. Being an expert isn’t either. Should you like to give SUP surfing a try, there are many fantastic instructors on the beach who can give you a great lesson.
Sayulita Bay is the perfect playground for SUP. The talented local surfers have discovered SUP and put on a fantastic show of power and finesse. Cruising outside the break for pleasure and exercise is an easy addiction. Family and friends sharing time together on the water can’t be beat. One of my favorite ways to pass the time is to pop Ava right on the front of my board with her life jacket on; she can lay on her belly and check out the fish, swim over to Amy’s board, or just enjoy the ride while I paddle her around. If she falls off, no problem, she just climbs back on. I have seen five kids all on one board having the time of their lives doing nothing but goofing off.
In just three years, the annual Punta Sayulita Longboard and SUP Classic has become the premier SUP event in Mexico. This year’s event is being held March 9-11, 2012. Don’t miss this fantastic show for the whole family. Racing action, surfing action, live music and fantastic spectators; there is something for everyone. It’s not every day you and I get to paddle with/against the likes of Chuck Paterson, Candice Appleby, Gerry Lopez and Slater Trout - some of the biggest names in the sport.