Surfing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Minnesota’s lakes, but think again! One of the latest trends on the Whitefish Chain is to take to the water on a stand-up paddleboard (or “SUP”). Standing on the big boards, “SUPers” glide gently across the water, powered by their own strength as their long paddles dip in and out of the water.
SUPs are essentially large surf boards. Often around 11 feet long or more and several feet wide, the boards are stable enough in the water to stand upon with little balancing, and easy to power with a paddle that looks much like a long canoe paddle.
SUPing may look tricky, but it’s easier than it looks. Most people are on a board and paddling comfortably in about 10 minutes. Having the right size board for your height and weight helps. In general, a longer board will be more stable. Any board over nine feet (some boards go up to 14 feet) will be a good size for getting out on the lake. It’s recommended that you choose a paddle that’s 6-10 inches over your own height. Many paddles are adjustable.
Paddleboarding on its own is a great way to explore the lake. With no motor involved, it’s peaceful and quiet, making it a good way to spot undisturbed wildlife on the shore or in the water. With only short fins below the board, SUPs can travel in very shallow water and through small channels where other boats may not be able to travel.
SUPing is a versatile activity in many ways. It can be either a relaxing paddle or a challenging workout, depending on how far you choose to journey and how hard you choose to paddle. It’s a full-body workout, from arms and core muscles for paddling to legs for balancing.
While paddling a SUP on its own is a popular activity, they can be used for other activities as well. Anglers find that fishing from a SUP can be exciting- SUPs move so easily through the water that often fish can pull the board around. Yoga on SUPs is also becoming a popular activity. It adds a challenging aspect to yoga, requiring more balance and coordination than yoga on land. It’s always fun to try downward dog or a handstand on a SUP!
SUPs are available in a couple forms. The standard is a hard-sided board, but inflatable boards that pack down into smaller, more easily-transportable bundles are also available. Inflatable SUPs are pumped up to a specified PSI in order to make them both rigid and stable in the water.
Stand-up paddle boards are available in several places near the Whitefish Chain. C and C Boat Works in Crosslake sells the boards, and MN Surf Co in Nisswa specializes in the boards. Many area resorts and lodges also have the boards available for guest use.