The Stand Up Paddle Book by Nate Burgoyne

I’ve always loved books that brought me to the sea. Whether it was a manual on SCUBA, an exploration of the coral reefs, or some high adventure, I didn’t care. There’s something evocative about those books that bring you onto that great watery unknown. Naturally when I started standup paddling regularly (2011), I looked to see what books there were. There were surprisingly few then, but I bought them and learned.

Nate Burgoyne’s The Stand Up Paddle Book was one of those first SUP books. Nate Burgoyne is an accomplished waterman — with his own paddlesports company — who writes clearly. Each chapter is filled with information for the beginner paddler. Despite the book’s age, the content is timely and useful. Nate also adds his own personal experience to his teachings, adding a personal touch you won’t find in many “how to” books. Just turn to his section on fins and you’ll get not only a detailed description of the different setups, but also his own preferences and why you might choose one over the other. His “Before You Put Your Board In The Water” section has some droll descriptions of why you should stretch before taking your board on the surf and what might happen to you if you don’t.

Being one of the first books out might not be completely a good thing. Published in 2010, The Stand Up Paddle Book has the feel of a small-press guide. Nate Burgoyne illustrated the book himself, and the pictures aren’t polished. The book’s title too is a little misleading. This is not a book about the entire standup paddle sport. It’s specifically about paddle surfing. While it addresses basic skills of course, it doesn’t cover flatwater specific situations.

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However I don’t want to seem too critical — this is a very good book to learn about paddle surfing. Even intermediate paddlers might learn a thing or two from this veteran. After a while you even start to appreciate those drawings. Maybe Nate is a little challenged in the art department, but he really knows the waves. What the pictures lack in skill, they make up in usefulness. Plus, they have an irresistible charm that makes you chuckle.

So if you’re a beginner hankering to take your SUP on the waves, this book is a great place to start. You will be impressed with Nate’s adventures, advice and misadventures in the waves. Even if you’re more experienced, you’ll still enjoy Nate’s prose. He has vivid descriptions of “being kissed by a wave,” and creates a heroically silly account of what it feels to be pounded in the rinse cycle. Readers may notice that Nate never gives recommendations of specific brands or products with this book, and I would say that’s a good thing. Brands go out of business and models change. This book — with its whimsical drawings — has a timeless aspect to it. Even though it’s one the the very first book about the SUP sport, it’s still well worth buying.

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Ian Berger

Ian Berger grew up in love with the ocean, so discovering stand up paddling was a bit of revelation. Once he bought his first paddleboard, he realized this was the sport for him. Ian Berger lives in Peekskill, NY with his wife Kirsten and three children. He teaches middle school English and drama, and also has a passion for writing, which he shares with his students. Every morning Ian wakes up to write — sometimes science fiction or comic Young Adult novels, sometimes plays, but very often about stand up paddling. The Hudson River is his home turf, and you can usually find him there when the weather is good.