Cape Cod SUP: Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Find SUP Rentals, Lessons, Tours, SUP Boards and Paddles on Cape Cod

riding SUP stand up paddle surfboards on Cape Cod waves and bays
Luke Simpson images courtesy of Vec Surfboards and SUPs

SUP Lessons - SUP Tours - SUP Rentals - SUP Boards and Paddles - Cape Cod Beaches - Ramps and Landings

Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) offers a great way to experience Cape Cod beaches, coasts, bays and ponds. SUP boards are longer and wider than traditional surfboards. They provide enough stability for a rider to stand erect while paddling. Compared to surfboards, kayaks and other personal watercraft, SUPs combine an intimate water experience with a high vantage point for seeing swells forming offshore, sea life under the water and views across marshes and other wetlands.Riding cape Cod waves on an SUP stand up paddle surfboard

If you are a reasonably good swimmer, moderately fit, able to stand upright for an hour or more and have a half decent sense of balance, SUP paddling and wave riding could be for you.

Note to beginners: SUPs are big and potentially dangerous in surf breaks. You should be familiar with surfing etiquette and have the ability and experience to control your board and paddle before joining other surfers in a line-up. Before venturing out it is wise to take note of the surf, marine and weather forecasts and to plan your route and session with respect for wind, tides and currents.

SUP Lessons

While it can take numerous frustrating sessions on a traditional surfboard to actually stand up and ride a wave, standing up and paddling a SUP on flat water can be achieved the first time. There are techniques that make paddling easier and more fun. There are also safety considerations and rules of the road and lineup that you should know before heading out.

SUP ToursSUP stand up paddle board on Cape Cod Bay

Everyone who paddles a SUP notices how much better the perspective is. Standing upright enables you to see further to the horizon while also enabling you to look into the water and see fish (sometimes rather large ones) swimming beneath you. When the water is very still it can almost be like snorkling without getting wet. SUP tours are available across Cape Cod on harbors, bays and ponds bordering Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound. Tours can be strenuous and experience is required.

SUP Rentals

SUP Boards and Paddles

More about SUP

There are many different types of stand up paddle board shapes, from all around boards that function well in a range of conditions to special purpose designs that excel in one specific area. Cape Cod SUP paddlers can experience flat water on bays and ponds, surf riding at the National Seashore, racing in an event, downwind paddling offshore and touring.

Most of the SUP boards available around Cape Cod are general purpose boards about 30" or more wide and 11-12' long. General purpose boards usually have a fairly wide nose and tail and may be as much as 5" thick. This offers a stable platform for a beginner to learn on. Many of these boards feature a single fin configuration.

While a bigger board is more stable and thus easier, when it comes to surfing with a SUP a smaller board may be preferred - both for you and for others in the water around you. Maneuvering a big board through surf can be difficult and when you wipe out the board can injure others if it is not controlled.

Within the category of Surf-riding SUPs there are sub categories of boards: nose riders and rippers. Similar to a general purpose shape a nose rider will have a fairly wide nose for hanging "five" or "ten" toes off the front edge. Rippers are essentially short board shapes that have been enlarged to the 7-10' range. A ripper board enables paddle surfers to turn faster and drop-in on steeper waves more easily- they usually have a pointy nose and tapered tail with a 3-fin thruster or 4-fin quad configuration.

Touring boards can cover great distances and have extra flotation to accommodate the weight of coolers, camping equipment, small dogs and kids. They are usually over 12' long and have deck mount attachments to secure gear with tie-downs.

SUP boards designed for crossing choppy water feature bottoms that are essentially small boat hulls. They may have a deep vee nose that flows into a rounded bottom. Some even have rudders akin to those on kayaks that help a paddler maintain a straight line in a cross wind. Racing boards are a variation on this theme with lengths of up to 14' and more while holding a relatively thin width of 27-30".

In the ocean it is possible for downwind paddlers to catch and ride one swell after another for short distances. If conditions are right great distances can be covered at surprisingly fast. Downwind boards usually have a fair amount of nose rocker that allow them to drop into the trough of waves without the nose "pearling" or going underwater. The bottom of the boards are typically flat with fairly sharp rear rails allowing them to ride the waves and change direction easily if needed.

Paddle surfing first emerged in Hawaii in the early 1960's when the Beach Boys of Waikiki would stand on their long boards and paddle out with outrigger paddles to take pictures of the tourists learning to surf.