Paddle People: The Beauty of Stand Up Paddling

stand up paddling, vestpac
Happy paddlers! Photo, Erik Benz

Stand Up Paddling

Why do we paddle? Unlike some other water sports, stand up paddling is inherently a communal, social activity. Sure you can go on solo trips, but there is something distinctively unique about SUP that makes it stand out from other outdoor activities. Paddlers naturally gravitate towards one another on and off the water. They smile, wave and exchange greetings when passing one another on their local waterways. If you happen to find yourself in the position where you share a brand with someone on the water, chances are you’ll stop to talk and exchange insights on the models you use and experiences with the brand. stand up paddling

I had such an encounter with a fellow paddler just the other day while testing out SIC Maui’s new inflatable Air Glide Bullet 14.0 in Marina del Rey. I had just launched when a guy named Tony glided into the beach on an SIC X-14  as my wife Karen practiced her turns in a sheltered section of the harbor before venturing out to the main channel. He had recently returned from a trip to Maui where he had the pleasure of paddling a few downwinders with Jeremy Riggs and Andrea Moller – two of SIC’s most accomplished downwind paddlers. It turns out Tony is a bit of a collector, he also owns an SIC F-14, and his eyes were instantly drawn to the new inflatable Bullet. “That’s a sharp looking board,” he said before adding it might become the next addition to his quiver. We chatted for a while longer before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways – each of us beaming with gratification at the chance encounter. “Paddlers, we’re special people,” Tony called out as we departed. There is simply a level of camaraderie in the stand up paddling community that makes it special.

No matter what your brand, make or model, the most important thing is to be out there paddling. It keeps you fit, clears the mind and generally gives you a better outlook on life. If you haven’t already done so, attend a local SUP race. Sure, there is a race going on and a race draws competitors. Even so, SUP races are also where you’ll have the chance to meet fellow paddlers and enjoy shared experiences at the event. Before long, you’ll begin to view the races as a family reunion with your all of your favorite aunts and uncles in attendance. Get on the water, meet some new friends and have a stand up paddling adventure.

Keep paddling!




Matt Chebatoris
Matt is a former national security professional and lifelong adventurer. He has published material on a variety of topics in the foreign policy arena and created PaddleXaminer™ as a platform to share his enjoyment of paddling with others. When not on the water, Matt can be found hiking along rugged mountain trails in the California wilderness. Matt resides in Los Angeles and is a member of the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club in Redondo Beach, California.


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