Stand on water

Stand on water

Stand-up paddleboarding connects with nature

August 17th, 2012 by John Frierson in Glimpse 2012-b

Josh Riley paddleboards on the Tennessee River Saturday afternoon.

Josh Riley paddleboards on the Tennessee River Saturday...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

The fast-growing water sport of stand-up paddleboarding is whatever you want it to be.

You can use the big board and long paddle for a leisurely cruise across the water, paddle aggressively for a hardcore workout that leaves you breathless or anything in between.

Stand-up paddleboarding's roots are in Hawaii, but the sport, which also goes by the name "SUP," has gone global, especially in the last decade. The sport is like a cross between surfing and kayaking, requiring balance and coordination.

All the bodies of water in and around Chattanooga make this area a perfect spot to grab your gear, or rent it from a local shop, and get going.

Getting started

A board, a paddle, a lifejacket and some water

• The two main pieces of equipment are the paddleboard and the paddle, but you will also need a lifejacket. You should also wear a leash that attaches the board to your ankle so that when you fall the board doesn't get away from you.

• Boards come in several sizes and are made of a variety of materials. Generally, boards start out at about 9 feet and can be as long as 14. When renting or purchasing a board, make sure to get the right fit for your body type.

• Paddles are longer than a typical canoe paddle and one size does not fit all. Just like with the board, make sure you get the one that's suited to your size.

Source: Justin Hall, River Canyon Adventures.

The essentials

Start off with a rental and work your way up

• Boards start out around $600 and can shoot to well over triple that for advanced models. A one-hour rental, which covers all the gear you need, will cost around $30-$40.

• Unlike surfing, which can be very challenging (and frustrating) to first-timers, stand-up paddleboarding is beginner friendly. Beginners should start out on calm water and work their way up to bigger challenges, maybe even whitewater SUP on the Ocoee River. A private lesson will cost about $65.


Yoga on the water

Get back to nature while you stretch

• If you're into paddleboarding and you're into yoga, why not combine the two? There are several SUP yoga classes offered around Chattanooga.

• SUP yoga is just what it sounds like, yoga on a stand-up paddleboard. Being on the board adds an extra challenge because of the need to maintain balance while executing the different positions and what better setting could there be for yoga than a quiet spot on a river or lake, especially if it's a a sunset class.

Source: Jayne Cagle, Waconda Bay SUP Yoga.

Dropping in

SUP options abound in Chattanooga

• You can go stand-up paddleboarding on just about any body of water, and there are plenty to choose from around Chattanooga depending on what you want to experience and explore, from the Tennessee River to Chickamauga Lake to Harrison Bay.

• For lessons or equipment rental, try L2 Boards (, River Canyon Adventures ( or SUP Paddleboard (


- Compiled by staff writer John Frierson,, 423-757-6268