By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Stand-up paddle surfing, or paddleboarding, where one stands on a surf-like board and uses a long paddle, has become an increasingly popular sport in Rio in recent years. It is a form of surfing that many believe originated in Hawaii in the 1960s, as a way for surf instructors to follow their students during surf lessons; now, it is used as a way for people to exercise the entire body, while staying in tune with nature.
Carioca, Marcela Carrocino, initially became interested in the sport because she found it to be an effective workout; but she says that, “later, with practice, I became interested in the infinite possibilities that the sport offers, regarding complete contact with nature.”
Some people also like stand-up paddleboarding because it’s a fun way to socialize. David Huxford, a New Zealander who has been in Rio for nearly three years, finds that it’s “[…] extremely social. I have made many friends while stand-up paddling and also had the opportunity to improve my Portuguese with them.”
In recent years, stand-up paddleboarding has gained a huge following in Rio, perhaps partially a result of the appealing sea conditions. As Huxford states, “The sea varies from day-to-day. Some days it’s completely flat, which is great for a long distance paddle […]. Other days, when there is a good swell, it is perfect for surfing. Also, you’re able to see marine life that you can’t see from the beach.”
There are various types of stand-up paddleboarding, making it suitable for nearly everyone. Stand-up paddle-rowing is the most popular type in Brazil; here, one simply stands on the board and rows small or large distances. Stand-up paddle-surfing is where one rides waves similar to surfing, but of course relies on a paddle to facilitate movement. There is also stand-up paddleboarding yoga (where yoga is practiced on the paddleboard) and stand-up paddleboard fishing.
Whichever type of stand-up paddle one may decide to practice, it is important to first find the proper equipment. The board should be matched to one’s weight in order to maintain balance, and the length of the paddle must be matched to one’s height; the wrong size paddle can make the affair much less enjoyable.
Taking a few lessons before starting will not only help to determine the right equipment, they will also help one to correctly position oneself on the board, stay balanced and row correctly. Location is also very important; calmer waters and lesser winds are more favorable.
There are various schools throughout Rio dedicated to this relaxing yet invigorating sport. The Posto 6 kiosk in Copacabana, where waves and wind are not as strong, is probably the most popular place to practice stand-up paddling in Rio and is home to several schools. Surf Rio Stand Up Paddle is one popular option, and there is also SUP Copa, Rio’s first stand-up paddle school, and Universo Paddle. For unbeatable views, head to Ipanema and check out Stand Up Paddle Rio at Posto 10.
Keep in mind that lessons generally tend to be in the morning when there is little wind. The prices of lessons and rentals vary, but this time of year (the summertime), they skyrocket. For those who want to skip the lessons and just rent by the hour, the schools generally offer that possibility, as well.