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Stand-up paddle boarding gains in popularity

August 3, 2012
By ADELLE WHITEFOOT - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - A sport that is becoming more and more popular in the around the Great Lakes is a cross between surfing and canoeing. That sport is stand-up paddle boarding.

A stand-up paddle board as similar features to a surfboard and a similar shape. They come in all different shape and sizes, from 9 feet to 14.5 feet long. The shape and length all depends on what a person is wanting to do with the board.

Ross Herr of Marquette said his favorite part about stand-up paddle boarding is the simplicity of it and versatility of what a person can do with a paddle board.

Article Photos

There are inflatable stand-up paddle boards available at Down Wind Sports in Marquette that are better for rivers and can be rolled up in a backpack for easy travel. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)

"You can swim, you can jump in, you can surf, you can race, you can fish and there is very little gear that's required and it's very, very simple," Herr said. "You can do so much from the basics of (paddle boarding)."

Herr has been stand-up paddle boarding for years and has even competed is some competitions. Herr was introduced into to competitive stand-up paddle boarding through his work, he said.

"There's a whole sanctioned series on the Great Lakes for stand-up paddle boarding," Herr said. "There are two different categories people can compete in. There is a 12.5 foot category and a 14 foot category."

Herr said the top athletes from both categories will go on to race and compete in the world championships. This year they are in Mexico.

Herr said he grew up kayaking and was even an instructor and competed in kayaking.

"From there you just want to be on the water because it's hot but you like to do something different from time to time. So stand-up paddling is that something different," Herr said. "You're still on the water and you're still paddling, but it's just a different feel from sitting down on the water."

According to Herr, stand-up paddle boarding is very similar to any paddle sport and that there is a direct connection between it and kayaking and canoeing.

"If you can kayak or canoe, you could easily pick up a stand-up paddle and feel very comfortable," Herr said.

One of Herr's favorite places to stand-up paddle board in the Marquette area is Middle Bay, he said.

"It has good protection from the wind and some nice islands to paddle to and around," Herr said.

Getting started with on learning how to stand-up paddle board may be very simple, the start up cost could be considered a lot for some people. Down Wind Sports sells the top-of-the-line stand-up paddle board equipment with the boards ranging from $1,100 and up and paddles ranging from $219 and up.

"We do offer demos every Tuesday nights where a customer can try out the equipment before they decided to buy it," said Nic Dobbs, sales associate at Down Wind Sports. "All they have to do is sign up beforehand and we'll take all the boards they are interested in out to the lake for them to test out."

Not only does Down Wind Sports do demos throughout the summer but Casualties also give some lessons on the sport at the beginning of the summer, said Andy Jones, co-owner of Casualties.

The only equipment needed for stand-up paddle boarding is a board, a paddle and a personal floatation device (PFD) that has some sort of noise maker on it.

"If you want to get some of the low end equipment, you can probably sneak a package for about around $800," Jones said. "But if you can spend about $1,200 to $1,800 you can get some really great equipment."

According to Jones, one of the most useful paddles someone can buy is an adjustable one.

"If someone want to buy a board for a family of different heights, an adjustable paddle would be useful because then they could share the paddle as well," Jones said.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500.



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