Stand up paddleboarding (SUPing) is quickly becoming one of the most popular paddle sports in the country, and now Zoar Outdoor is offering beginner classes to introduce you to the sport.
It’s easy to see why so many people are getting excited about SUPing. It’s a sport that, at its easiest, offers a great workout while also allowing the paddler to explore waterfront areas, and at its most challenging gives experienced paddlers a different take on running whitewater.
Kayaking instructor Jim Sullivan recalls Zoar Outdoor’s first SUP and Supper event when talking about how accessible SUPing is. “They were taking people from downtown Shelburne Falls and having them SUP in their street clothing, because the boards can literally be that stable on a calm evening.”
SUPing can be anything the paddler wants it to be: from serene and quiet to fun and playful to extreme and thrilling. On calm water, SUPing is limited only by the paddler’s imagination. “People are fishing, sprinting, and doing yoga on SUPs now and loving flatwater,” says Sullivan. Because SUP boards can be designed to provide ample stability and easy maneuvering, the only obstacle to people wanting to try out the sport is their own willingness to go out and have an adventure.
Janet Burnet-Cowie, Director of Instruction Programs, describes how stability can be increased for beginners based on their stance on the board. “You can start on your belly, then move to your knees, then stand up. And then you can go back if you feel uncomfortable,” she says.
For more experienced paddlers, SUPing can be a more challenging way to paddle rapids they already know. “It’s a new way to make the river exciting,” says Sullivan. “The challenge is back; it's all about relearning something you’re familiar with but in a new way. And frankly it's goofy and that's fun.”
Zoar Outdoor’s SUP clinic options focus on introducing people to the sport. For those just wanting a quick introduction to SUPing, or trying to find something new and fun to do that won’t fill up their schedule, there are two hour clinics in the evenings. These focus on providing enough instruction to safely get paddlers out on the water and having fun. Instructors take guests to sheltered areas of the Deerfield River, where they can work on getting the basics down in calm water.
For those really interested in getting full instruction for the sport, we’ll offer four hour clinics which run in the morning and in the afternoon. These focus on building a solid foundation to allow the paddler to grow in the sport. These take paddlers up to Sherman Reservoir where instructors lead them on a tour of the lake. While developing their skills, paddlers can enjoy the beautiful scenery and often catch glances of local wildlife.
And for paddlers who already have whitewater and SUP experience, custom clinics are available to get you onto the river and SUPing some rapids.