Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Different strokes for different folks

There is a new species inhabiting our bay. They float and paddle like a duck, and sometimes they dip underwater.
The paddleboarders are here.

Driving down Fogland Road and onto the boat ramp, I expect to see some fishermen in powerboats trawling nearby; but on this windless, clear and bright sunny day, I spot a bevy of boarders standing up and paddle surfing in the Sakonnet.

Traditional paddleboarding is a surface water sport in which participants are propelled by a swimming motion using their arms while lying or kneeling on a paddleboard or surfboard in the ocean.
A spinoff of this sport is standup paddle surfing, which is usually performed in the open ocean with the participant paddling and surfing unbroken swells to cross between islands or journey from one coastal area to another.

Surfing the net, I find that standup paddleboarders can stroke for hours, and a twenty-mile race is only a warm-up for a well-trained waterman.
I had always associated paddleboarding with the South Pacific, but I conduct a quick search on Google and find a long list of businesses catering to this sport in our local waters.

In fact, I discover that Paddle Board Rhode Island is the 2013 Editors’ Choice winner in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England, which is awarded by Yankee’s editors and contributors, who name select restaurants, lodgings and attractions in New England to the exclusive list.
“While it may be hard to create a business, the true challenge is in making it work, being good enough that it endures and brings people back. Those are the qualities we look for and reward when we say ‘Best of New England,’” wrote Yankee's editor Mel Allen.

Recognized as the “Best Way to See the Bay,” Paddle Boarding Rhode Island offers paddleboard tours, lessons, fitness classes and parties, including full moon paddles, dog standup paddleboarding tours, sunrise fitness sessions and paddling through downtown Providence.

According to their website, they describe standup paddling as a very different, healthy, spiritual and refreshing way to connect with the ocean and nature, and they paddle anywhere.​

“We have paddled as far and wide as Hawaii and Costa Rica, California, New Hampshire, Cape Cod and Florida. But this is the Ocean State. Experience Rhode Island's coast as you've never experienced it before.”

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