What’s SUP?

SUP sounds like slang for “what’s going on”, and it really is the newest thing going on for the adventure crowd here in southern West Virginia. SUP is the acronym for Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and it is becoming the newest challenge for flat

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (photo courtesy Class VI - Mountain River)

and swift water paddlers alike.

This sport combines some of the balance and agility of surfing with the paddling of an open canoe. SUP is swiftly growing in popularity; pretty soon you’ll see a board on a piece of water near you.

What Is It

The sport actually has its roots in 1960’s Hawaii, but unlike surfing, it is much easier to learn. SUP uses what is basically a long wide surf board that is very stable and a long, one bladed paddle to make it move through the water. The boards are generally 9 feet long and use a 5-7 foot long paddle.

The boards are made of a few types of materials including fiberglass, wood, plastic, and carbon fiber.  There are even inflatable boards made out of a polyvinyl material, similar to rafts. Typically they have one or three fins to help them track, and the newer river models have fins that are easy to remove for whitewater situations.


Stand Up Paddle Boarding is growing in popularity in many circles. It allows surfers a better view of incoming sets of waves and lets them catch more of them. The cross training aspect of SUP appeals to many athletes because it provides a strong core workout. And it can be done on any stretch of flat water, so the convenience and versatility of SUP lends itself to many areas of the country, not just the coast.

Here in Southern WV, it is becoming a very popular activity on the rivers. Rafters, kayakers and canoeists can take their whitewater skills and channel them into a completely different challenge with SUP. Many outfitters are now offering SUP classes for guests.

So if you are looking for a new challenge this summer, try taking a SUP class while you’re visiting the area. It might just become your new favorite adventure!

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