SUP History

Hoe he’e nalu

A Hawaiian term meaning: To Stand, To Paddle, To Surf a Wave

Stand Up Paddleboarding is commonly referred to as SUP. Or is it Paddle-board, or Paddle Board? Can we get a ruling on this please? Despite how Google tries to make me spell it, in Hawaii (its place of origin) it’s referred to as a Paddleboard. (ie: “Surfboard”).

Stand Up Paddleboarding is said to have been invented in the early 1960’s. But wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, reeeewind. What about those Italian gondola riders? Stand up paddling has been around for centuries. It’s said they have a documented history dating back to 1094. Coastal watermen used this “standing” technique while fishing out of their canoes and boats. They were also known to stand up and ride waves to make travel faster and more efficient.

That being said, since the 1960’s paddleboarding has been pioneered by men like John Zapotocky. He and other Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their long boards and paddle out to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf. This is where the term “Beach Boy Surfing” originated. Fast forward to the early 2000’s. Hawaiian surfers such as Dave Kalama, Brian Keaulana, Rick Thomas, Archie Kalepa Mel Puu, Bruce De Sotoand, Laird Hamilton, to name a few, started SUP as a fitness routine while the surf was down. In 2004 Brian Keaulana introduced SUP as a division at his fathers surf event, Buffalo Big Board Classic. It had major media coverage and was hugely popular. Since then the sport of Stand Up Paddleboarding has exploded across the world and into several sub genres including touring, racing and whitewater.

Video of John Zapotocky, a pioneer of SUP surfing SUPing @ age 91 in 2010