Paddle board gear
What do you need to enjoy the water on a paddle board? Here are a few items to get you started.
Stand-up paddle board: This is pretty important. Sizes are based on the paddler’s weight and experience — more experienced and lighter paddlers can choose narrower boards. Novice paddlers should choose wider, flatter boards, which offer more stability.
Paddle: Stand-up paddles have an angle or "elbow" in the shaft for efficiency. Choose a paddle that’s roughly 6 inches to 8 inches taller than you are (though some manufacturers recommend an 8 inch to 10 inch differential).
Personal Flotation Device: The U.S. Coast Guard classifies stand-up paddle boards as vessels, so always wear some kind of life jacket whenever you’re paddling.
Proper clothing: If it’s cold, wear a wetsuit or dry suit. In milder conditions, wear shorts and a T-shirt or bathing suit — something that moves with you and can get wet.
Sun protection: Wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
Paddle boarding, or stand-up paddle, is just breaking into the water sports scene in Northeast Georgia.
But the sport goes all the way back to the 1960s.
"It became a modern sport in Waikiki and Hawaii," said Steve Combs, a paddle boarder. "Over the years it went away and in about 2000 is became popular again.
"It sort of has gone from Hawaii, to California, the East Coast and now inland in rivers and lakes."
All you need to successfully paddle board is a board, a paddle and calm waters.
Combs, who also owns Paddle Anywhere and frequently paddles on Lake Lanier, said the techniques are easy to learn and the sport is perfect to keep those core muscles tight.
"They’re are basically large surf boards, but they are 12 feet in length," Combs said. "And the person stands on them with a long single-blade paddle to paddle them around.
"You start out on your knees and then you can stand, but it’s not too hard because the board is very stable and then you paddle on either side of the board, like a canoe."
The sport still is spreading to area lakes — but slowly. Combs said there aren’t many stand-up paddle companies in Georgia. There are some in Blue Ridge, Augusta and Tybee Island. But he is trying to generate awareness of the sport with special events like the recent International Surfing Day on June 20 near Buford Dam on Lake Lanier. He gave free paddle board lessons and helped coordinate a stand-up paddle race that was sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The event also featured a shore sweep and celebrated surfing and environmental awareness.
"We had about 30 people and about 25 people that actually raced," he said. "We had about five teams of five and we raced around a short course on the lake."
Combs began paddle boarding on International Surfing Day about two years ago.
"You really can hop on the board and in 10 minutes be paddling as well as anyone," he said. "It’s great to get out in the environment; it’s great exercise."