Paddleboarding is growing exponentially in the D.C. area

Not feeling the whole kayaking thing? Paddlers looking for something different can try out stand-up paddleboarding (SUPing). The sport – think a beefed-up surfboard, with a 6 to 7 foot paddle for maneuvering – has been growing exponentially in the D.C. area.

“Stand up paddleboarding has exploded – it’s really a new activity equivalent to what occurred in cycling when mountain bikes appeared,” said David Brown, of the Professional Paddlesports Association.

It’s a sport “almost anybody can do,” according to Scott “Buck” Jorss, who teaches SUPing at Potomac Paddle Sports in Virginia.

The sport popped up in Hawaii, then became a growing fad after it hit the reached the west coast, paddlers say.

Jorss started SUPing seven years ago, after he got tired of driving hours to the beach, he says. He uses a C-4 board or a Badfish, but the first time he stepped onto a standup paddleboard, it was an inflatable board made by a toy company, he said. Now, paddlers tool around on a slew of customized boards, which vary in thickness, width, weight, length, and other specs.

It provides a tough core workout and gives paddlers a “different perspective” of their surroundings, Jorss said. And it provides a way for athletes to vary up their workouts in other ways – like doing yoga or as part of CrossFit classes, he said. In the last three weeks, the number of people signing up for his yoga classes has tripled, he said.

He paddles on flat water as a way to train for races, or do yoga on the board, said Jorss, a Bethesda native (and a fan of any sport with the word “board” in it, he says). But he and other paddlers like him have also taken to paddling though the Potomac’s rapids.

“It’s like skateboarding on a wave,” said Eric Astor, shortly after finishing out a morning on his paddleboard below Great Falls.

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