History of Stand Up Paddle Surf

Stand up paddle surfing is an amazing recreational sport activity using a board and paddle.

Stand up paddle surfing is an amazing recreational sport activity using a board and paddle. If you’re interested in the question of where SUP surfing comes from, you’re not alone. Standup paddle surfing carries an enriched history tracing back to its origin in 3000 B.C.
SUP surfing is a combination of water sports that you can learn easily. According to one estimate, 21.7 million US citizens participated in SUP surfing back in 2014. Since that time, the activity of standup paddle surfing is getting a lot of attention.
If you have questions regarding the rich history of standup paddle surfing, you’re likely quite interested in this sport. Our today’s article will highlight the origin and historical perspectives regarding standup paddle surfing.

History of Stand Up Paddle Surf SUP Yoga in South America

The Pioneer Stand Up Paddle Boarders of Peru

The earliest paddle boarding started in 3000 B.C. in Peru. At that time, the main livelihood of those people was through fishing. History suggests that the fishermen used to make watercraft from reeds.

But in ancient times, there were many issues regarding the stability of watercraft. The fishermen of Peru are considered the pioneers of SUP surfing. For paddles, they cut the bamboo in half and use their shafts as paddles.

Such an innovative way of paddle boarding let them have control of the movement in the water. As the bamboo shaft was effectively used for propelling the craft and providing directional guidance.

There is also evidence of ancient stand up paddle boarding in the region of Levant, Italy, and China. To gain easy mobility and balance over water, large boats were difficult to make. Therefore, the ancient people use standup paddleboards as their way of catching fish.

The history of stand up paddle surfing is not only limited to Peru and surrounding regions. Researchers have also found shreds of evidence of SUP surfing in the era of African warriors. They build canoes and use their spears as paddles when they have intentions to attack enemies.

History of Stand Up Paddle Surf SUP Yoga in South America

The Rise of Modern Standup Paddle Surfing

If you look at stand up paddle surfing historically, the origin of actual SUP surfing started in Hawaii. This art of surfing has its roots deep in the culture of ancient Polynesians which was observed by Captain James Cook.

In 1778, Captain James Cook sailed on the Hawaiian sea and discovered many islands. The local inhabitants of these Hawaiian Islands, the Polynesians, were using SUP surfing. They employed the most skillful surfers in the sea for fishing and cultural purposes.

Captain James Cook carefully inspected and investigate Polynesian surfing culture. The ancient people use top-notch quality wood to make around 15 feet long boards. They used the same wood to create a perfect and feasible navigating paddle.

The captain came back with the evidence and slowly, SUP surfing got a lot of trendy attraction. But it was not as good as when John Ah Cloy and his sons start SUP surfing. It was started in the 1940s and exploded in popularity after the 1960s.

In the 1940s, John Ah Choy laid the foundation of modern paddle surfing in Waikiki. This all began when this local Hawaiian was not able to move up and down while on water. He used to stand on the board all the time and propelled himself using a wooden paddle.

The legacy of standing on board and using a canoe paddle was passed on to the sons of John Ah Choy. Later on, his sons used to teach the tourists about this posture on the paddleboard. The trend of standup paddle surfing soon got enough attention and started to become popular.


SUP Surfing Sports & Role of Laird Hamilton


In 2002, Laird Hamilton marvelously introduced modern SUP surfing. At the time, most people didn’t know much about standup paddle surfing. Laird Hamilton grabbed the perfect opportunity of showing SUP surfing by propelling a US flag on his board paddle.

This was the time when the world got interested in knowing more about SUP surfing. After portraying to the world what real standup paddle surfing is in Malibu, Laird Hamilton led the foundation of SUP surfing as a sport.

After a while, this sport was quickly recognized and gained worldwide sensation. Soon enough, many new surfers came up into the spotlight and bring innovation with SUP surfing. There is an outstanding photo of Laird Hamilton holding the flag on a board that went viral globally.

Buffalo Big Board Contest & SUP Surf


No doubt, Laird Hamilton made his way in making the standup paddle surf a modern sport. We can’t forget the name of Rick Thomas when he appeared in modern SUP surfing in 2004.

2004 was the time when standup paddle surfing was added to the category of modern sports. This was done on the day of the Buffalo Big Board Contest when Rick Thomas showed the true Hawaiian-styled SUP surfing skills.

Rick Thomas used an 11-foot Munoz surfboard to demonstrate his custom paddle maneuvers. The spectators and general public were impressed with it at the contest. The SUP surfing trend started by Laird Hamilton was further diversified by Rick Thomas.

The diversification in standup paddle boarding was further carried out. Now, the techniques of SUP surfing are largely implemented in many different sports and lifestyle domains. These include tourism, yoga, fishing, and racing as the activity is attractive and easily accessible.


Final Thoughts

If you reach this point, you are now completely aware of the historical perspectives of SUP surfing. The hype created in the early days regarding this sport is enclosed in an ancient capsule.

With that being said, you can also take part in standup paddle surfing for multiple purposes. SUP surfing is a great exercise for strengthening your muscles. Millions of people use standup paddle surfing as a means of improving their body and cardiovascular health.

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If you want to know how to start practice Stand Up Paddle Surf we give some tips for beginnes!

How to practice standing up on surfboard?

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