Stand Up Paddle Board Racing for Beginners by Kayla Anderson: Get in the Game
Racing is one of the most exciting parts of the standup paddling world. When there’s a standup paddling event happening, most likely it’s centered around a race. It gets the most media attention, especially inland. Yet racing can be a pretty daunting thing to get into. There are probably many people interested, but not knowing where to start. Fortunately there is the book Stand Up Paddle Board Racing for Beginners by HowExpert Press and Kayla Anderson. Part personal odyssey and part training guide, this short book (just 80 pages) will get you started on your own SUP racing career.
Kayla’s story begins at the beginning, when she moves to Lake Tahoe. Truly a mecca for many sports, she uses this glorious location to transition from a winter athlete to a dedicated standup paddler. As she discovers the sport, she describes her own learning process. More than just a personal journey, the reader learns too how to transition from a casual paddler to an aspiring racer. Instead of being indulgent, this becomes better reading than a pure guide to racing. Kayla Anderson humanizes her training, letting us know her successes and mistakes. One mistake: trying to self-train while not having her stroke dialed in. A success: learning to set realistic goals for her first competition. Most aspiring racers make similar errors, and it’s useful to read that they’re not a result of stupidity but part of the learning process.
Sometimes Kayla’s specifics get a little too specific though. She leads her readers through a buyers guide of equipment for paddle racing, which can be useful. Unfortunately — and this is an issue with print media in general — when you recommend a specific board for racing, chances are that specific model will be retired in the next year or two. The book mentions at the end that it was published in the second half of 2017, which mean most of its information is still pretty relevant, but in the next few years I can imagine it becoming less and less so. Rather than recommending specific racing models, it might be helpful to direct her readers towards successful brands and the pluses and minuses of different levels of width, board length, construction, etc.
Still, you can’t help but be pleased with the image of Kayla training on her NSP 12’6”. So many times we hear about competitors training on elite equipment, spending a couple mortgage payments on high-end carbon boards. It’s refreshing to read a person training on equipment made for normal humans. Kayla admits she isn’t a high-end competitor. She trains because she loves what she’s doing, which is inspiring. That’s real value of this book, exploring the sport of standup paddling with the author and sharing her sense of discovery. That’s a journey anyone can appreciate.