It was about this time last year when my sister and I had our first taste of SUPing through SUP Yoga. Since then, we tried to take lessons to learn the basics and proper techniques of this up-and-coming sport so that we can continue our SUP Yoga practice and, perhaps, embark on a new adventure that allows us to see the world from a completely new perspective.
However, as many New Englanders know, the Northeast summers are short and the window for SUPing is limited. Anytime outside that timeframe is too cold to be near a body of water. Unless you’re a polar bear and enjoy the cold, of course, and my sister and I, being from the tropical islands of the Philippines, are not. We’re more like panda bears.. 😛 I guess that’s what wetsuits are for, but they just don’t keep us warm enough, so we opted to wait another summer.
We appreciate every living day we are given, but in this case, we are glad that time flew and that summer was here once again. Excited to finally get on a SUP, we quickly registered for a class with Peter Pan Surfing Academy, a Narragansett-based Surfing School that, we later found out, is run by surfing legend and an integral member of the BicSURF Research and Design Team, Peter Panagiotis. Upon this discovery, we were immediately assured that we were in good hands learning from one of the best.
You are pretty much walking on water when you are Standup Paddleboarding. But instead of using your legs and feet, you walk using a board and paddle. It’s the first thing you realize as soon as you get on the SUP and start paddling. Don’t worry–the instructor doesn’t immediately put you on a SUP.
The lessons begin on land where you learn the basics of SUPing, including the proper terms of the parts of your equipment, the right way to hold, carry and get on the SUP, correct paddling techniques, and of course, safety. I’m sure there were other topics discussed that I’m forgetting to mention; our instructor, Maria Beretta, was pretty thorough in her teachings and made sure she covered everything before even thinking about getting close to the water.
Once Maria believes you are comfortable enough to get on a SUP, she directs you to carry your board and paddle over to the edge of the Pettaquamscutt River, also known as the Narrow River. This body of water is a great learning field for SUPing beginners because it’s “flat” so you won’t have to deal with ocean waves. However, there will be occasional wakes boaters leave behind that you will have to work through–the instructor teaches you exactly how to do that as each boat pass by.
Just as she taught you on land, Maria demonstrates how you get on a SUP, talking you through it step-by-step as you attempt it on your own. Once you are in your comfortable SUP stance, she instructs you to paddle, with her paddling right alongside you and providing you feedback to improve your movement so that you have better control.
Eventually, you go on a 60-75 minute paddling excursion of the Narrow River, from the Kayak rental place to the beach and back, learning along the way how to move forward and backwards, make turns, go faster and slow down, safety protocols and water etiquette.
There is a certain sense of freedom that overcomes you when you are SUPing. As you paddle, you notice things about the world that you haven’t noticed before, creating a fresh outlook and expanding your perspective on life. Because of this, you feel rejuvenated and more alive! And this is all from just this one lesson in a small body of flat water. I can only imagine what it would be like to do this in an exotic place and out on the ocean. The idea alone makes me want to get hooked, motivating me to become a skilled SUPer just so I can!
If you’re an adventurer like me and haven’t done SUPing yet, I suggest you try it out for yourself: $60 per person (for group lessons) at Peter Pan Surfing Academy. Board, paddle and wetsuits provided. Dress in something you don’t mind getting wet in–swimsuit works best. Note that lessons begin and end at the Narrow River Kayak rental place, a completely separate entity from the Academy and they charge $5.00 per person for access to their parking and amenities.
Since it was founded in 1978, Peter Pan Surfing & SUP Academy is the only school with a fully accredited NSSIA program in the Northeast that is open for personalized, private surfing instruction 7 days ALL YEAR LONG. For more information about the Academy, or to sign up for surfing or SUPing lessons, make sure you check out PeterPanSurfingAcademy.VPWeb.com. Tell Peter Girlnetic sent ya!