A New Breed of SUP Explorers

Posted by on 11/24/2014

Waterproof Bags for Boating

Do people who go on transoceanic or long distance solo expeditions wake up one day and think ďI want to row across the Atlantic ocean?Ē Historically people have taken every kind of watercraft & even swam themselves across oceans, but a new breed of adventurers has arrived.  Rugged and daring individuals who find that Standup Paddle Boarding across great distances of water is fulfilling and are summoned to the challenge by higher powers or perhaps the voice within.

We all know paddle boarding is a workout in itself; therefore the people who attempt these types of expeditions truly take stand up paddling to the next level. Expedition paddle boarding requires very specialized gear, intensive training and large amounts of planning. Did I forget to mention the extreme athletes have an extreme courage and passion that not many people possess? Besides the mental qualities and physical stamina required letís take a look at the other elements required for SUP expeditions.

Expedition boards: These boards are some of the most unusual and sophisticated SUPs out there. They are wider and longer than a standard touring board. They are often modified, with removable decks for storage of water and supplies. They have steerable rudders to help keep the boards moving in the right direction and help reduce fatigue. Each person who chooses to embark on a SUP expedition uses a custom board they have modified to their specifications and preference.  Expedition boards are also often much thicker and bigger than a standard board to accommodate all the extra weight of gear.

Planning and preparation: Paddle board expeditions face unique challenges, because riders are spending the majority of their time standing up during the journey. Planning these expeditions typically starts a year prior to the actual expedition. Since many of these expeditions take place on oceans or in very remote parts of the world, people planning expeditions have large teams and sponsors who help with support, weather forecasting, packing, etc. Preparing for an extended paddle means vigorous training for months leading to the actual expedition. Learning survival skills, first aid, proper diet and hydration practices must all be learned. Being in peak shape is very important and the ability to remain calm in emergency situations is vital. Those who attempt expeditions are often world class athletes who also compete in various other athleticisms across the world.

The gear an SUP explorer packs is one of the most important considerations. Because there is very limited space on board, what you bring must be carefully thought out.  

Waterproof Bags for Kayaking

Here is an example of an SUP explorerís packing list for a 5 day SUP trip:

Board: Custom expedition board with navigation and steering assists equipped with grab line around the perimeter for attaching all the gear to.

Gear: 2 paddles, 3 leashes, Sea anchor, Survival blanket, GOPRO Camera Hero 3, Small waterproof hand camera, 2x GPS units, Tracker, iphone, Hand desalination device, 3x Compasses , 2x Headlamp, Strobe lamp, VHF radio, Backup batteries for all devices plus solar battery charger.

Clothing: Dry Suit, 2 x under layer pants , 2x thin under layer shirt, 2x warm under layer shirt, 1x thin down jacket
1x thin down body, 3x warm socks, 3x Hat, 2x surf shorts, 2x long arm lycra rash guards.

Water and food: 25+ liters of water packed in several 2 or 4 liter containers stored within internal board cavities, electrolyte powder, liquid bike food , protein powder, recovery drink powder, oat breakfast with milk powder (just mix in water), dry freeze meals, heat packs, sport bars, nut and dry fruit mix, chocolate bars.

Medicine package: Strong painkillers, 3x antibiotics, athletic tape, bandages, sunscreen and blocker, survival first aid kit, allergy medications.

Repair kit: Epoxy, tools, rope, tape, 2 pocket knives.

Emergency: Flares, life vest, mirror, whistle, sea chart.

Sleeping kit: Inflatable bed, small hand pump, straps.

All of this gear is for a 5 day trip that is confined to the space on and in the riderís SUP.  In addition to the riderís necessary space on the board, the deck becomes a very cramped space. Paddlers also sleep on their board so their bed is often small and uncomfortable.  


World Record SUP Expeditions:

This past year has seen some world record breaking SUP expeditions including the first solo Canada to Mexico voyage on an SUP. Will Schmidt of Are You Inspired Yet navigated a SIC F-16 stand up paddleboard solo and largely unassisted from Neah Bay, WA to Swiftsure Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Canadian/US border) and paddled south 1386 miles to the USA/Mexico border fence in Border Field State Park, Imperial Beach, CA. The voyage lasted 61 days total with 58 days of actual paddling. Schmidt surfed to the shore and touched down at the border fence at approximately 6:45pm on Saturday, July 26th, 2014. He was raising money and awareness about active duty and veteran US service members suffering from post combat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury.

Dry Bags for Kayaking

2014 was also the first time someone paddled unassisted from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Bart de Zwart paddled 4 days and 3 nights to become the first person to paddle unassisted across French Polynesia. He has also spent a week in 2013 in the Arctic Circle paddling the Greenland coast, starting in Ilulissat and finishing hundreds of kilometers south of there in Sisimiut, to help raise awareness about the rapidly melting ice fields in the Arctic Circle.

These expeditions and the countless more starting to make news all over the world are helping spread the SUP craze and help causes gain attention from the public. Remember expedition paddling isnít something just anyone can go out and do. Itís dangerous, full of challenges and shouldnít be taken lightly. Consider the New Breed Of SUP Explorers to be world class athletes that are in amazing shape.


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