Go for a float: A beginner's guide to stand-up paddling

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  • Go for a float: A beginner's guide to stand-up paddling


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    The first time Katie Vincent, 33, stood on a paddleboard, it was for a yoga class. The water at Green Lake in Seattle was frigid and surrounded by a walking path of gawking strangers. Rather than finding any kind of flow, Vincent fell into the water several times while other students were doing headstands.

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    “I kind of felt like I could never do this,” said Vincent, an ecological gardening coach who uses the pronoun they. “I will never be as good as the other people.”

    Vincent considered the activity a one-off thing. But a few years later, their brother invited them to paddleboard in southern Utah. Soon, they’d mastered the basic skills and began paddling around southwest rivers. In 2020, they went on a four-day trip down the Green River in Colorado switching between a pack raft and paddleboard, and in 2021 they backpacked six miles to an alpine lake at 10,000 feet – and then turned around to do it again, hauling 30-pound inflatable boards.

    “It just like clicked for me,” they said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

    Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP, for short) has likely existed for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in South America and Africa stood on small boats with long paddles to travel, fish or go to war. Polynesians surfed waves using paddles. Most historians agree its modern form took shape thanks to Hawaiian surf instructors like Duke Kahanamoku, who in the 1940s would stand on his board to get a better view of his students.
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