Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Stand Up Paddleboarding in Wrightsville Beach NC

Ready to Try the Hottest Watersport in Wrightsville Beach?

Wrightsville Beach is becoming a preferred destination for one of the world's fastest growing new sports. Stand Up Paddleboarding, known as SUPing, has gained steady popularity since its emergence in the 1960s. The sport originated in Hawaii, where its official term is "hoe he'e nalu". It is thought to have evolved from the practice Hawaiian surfers and instructors used to take surf photographs. Since around 2000, it has been embraced by surfing legends such as Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama. Although experienced surfers may take to the monster-sized boards as a means to catch more waves, newbies seeking a tamer experience are the reason the sport is spreading like wildfire.

The calm, clear waters of Wrightsville's channels, inlets, and waterways are often filled with SUPers. In fact, year round, the island is the site of several major SUP races and special events, including the coveted World Paddle Association-sanctioned Carolina Cup. It brings in highly skilled paddlers from around the globe and has gained fame for its challenging ocean courses and high level of competition.

The appeal of Stand Up Paddleboarding is likely due to the fact that almost anyone can do it. For flat paddling as opposed to catching waves on the beach side, very little athletic skill is required - just a little balance and some enthusiasm is all it takes! If you think you'd like to give it a go, there are scores of local businesses ready to lend a hand. Before investing in a paddle and board, try it out by taking a few lessons and using rental equipment. Chances are, you will be hooked the first time out. However, since SUP gear is pricey, it is highly recommended that you try it before you buy it.

As you plan your upcoming Wrightsville Beach SUP adventure, here's a handy list of things to keep in mind:

1. In 2010, the US Coast Guard made it mandatory for all adult stand-up paddlers to have a Type III-Personal Flotation Device-PFD, on board. SUPs are now classified as vessels and operators must also have a sound signaling device, such as a whistle, a visual distress signal, and a navigation light or flashlight. Kids 12 and under, must wear a life jacket at all times. Please do not let these points deter you - these items are for your safety, easy to obtain, and can be placed on the deck of your board, thanks to PFD pockets or special waterproof bags. Note also that these requirements are for paddlers who are traveling from point A to B, not for those entering from the beach side to SUP surf. For surfing SUPers, a leash is required, along with compliance to the surf zone regulations.

2. Aside from a paddle and board, paddlers should wear plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and water shoes. Although much of the bottom around Banks Channel and the ICW is sandy, there are also plenty of hazards that could cut your feet, such as oyster shells and broken glass.

3. Prepare to fall! That is, should you have on sunglasses or a hat, make sure they are tethered to you. Falling off the board is just part of the learning experience and even seasoned SUPers take a spill from time to time. Get back on and remember: "No one looks stupid when they are having fun."

4. Research where you are allowed to launch and park. Wynn Plaza and the public boat ramp are two good choices.

5. Just as you would with a day of boating, check the weather conditions before you go including the wind speed and direction and the tide times.

6. In Banks Channel, avoid close contact with swimmers, boaters, and jet skis. Be courteous to the cruising boats in the designated anchorage by keeping your distance and noise down.

7. Get ready to channel your inner warrior and experience the natural wonders of the water!

We hope you find these tips helpful and that you make the decision today to go out and try stand up paddleboarding at Wrightsville Beach!

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