Mount Maunganui couple Seaton and Hiria Rolleston – top local paddle boarders (SUP) – are launching the Bay’s only dedicated SUP coaching school.
“The sport dates back to early Beach boys at Waikiki in Hawaii who used their big long boards and paddled standing to take up-close shots of happy tourists out on the waves,” says Seaton. “But I believe its origins are even earlier. I imagine the activity would also have been a part of the life of ancient Hawaiians who surfed the waves of those islands on both papa (boards) and on waka (canoes).” It’s now the fastest growing water activity in the world, he adds.
A key figure in the SUP boom is Hawaii-based Laird Hamilton, highly regarded for his big wave surfing on SUP boards in particular. But Seaton says there are now many big name ‘cross over’ surfers and SUP paddlers making their mark in this sport – even a few Hollywood celebs. One reason for the sport’s popularity is that it can be done on flat water, the open sea and rivers of Aotearoa - and the world, he says.
While SUP has been high profile in other parts of the world for many years it has curiously, taken a long time to find a foothold in New Zealand. “Only in the last 2-3 years have we seen SUP paddlers out and about - but it’s becoming more and more popular.”
If you want to sample the ‘SUP experience’ here in Tauranga, the best way is either with an experienced SUP rider who can take you out - or contact a lesson provider like us who can supply equipment, tuition and safety, and provide key information as part of a complete package, says Seaton.
The sport is easy to learn and master, with the average beginner standing up and paddling within 30 minutes of getting on a board. And that’s where our coaching techniques come into play, he says. “But a good rule of thumb is ‘if you can walk, you can SUP.’ ”
The pair are preparing to increase the size of their coaching operation, taking on another partner and buying new equipment. They cater for everyone from complete beginners in their ‘SUP 101’ courses, to intermediates who want to boost their skills, and move to the next level.
Safety is a major concern and the couple say they take pains not to put people into conditions they’re not ready for. “We also use a variety of boards including inflatable boards that are big in Europe. They are made of the same material as IRBs and if one hits you on the head – it simply bounces off, “says Seaton.
They also point out that an SUP workout is a fitness session like no other. “If you are into fitness at any level, a paddle session is the perfect low impact, full body workout. It incorporates upper and lower body training along with incredible balance work and can be explosive (surfing) or endurance (distance) focussed. ”
The sport also offers a surfer with a back injury a way to enjoy the wave riding experience with none of the pain that comes from the arched back position needed for a normal surfboard. Hiria Rolleston was still riding small waves on her stand up paddle board only days before giving birth to her daughter. “SUP is a perfect fitness routine that can be done late into pregnancy keeping mums and baby in good shape for the labour to come,” she says.
The couple say that once you are up and paddling, the standing position well above the water provides a perspective that is unique and addictive. “SUP is what you make of it. Whether you want to cruise quietly along on a flat water outing, paddle a downwind endurance race, catch a wave or simply have fun with the family, you choose the place and the pace,” says Hiria.
“Our local Tauranga region is blessed with a wide range of water options for you to enjoy, and there’s no more unique and fun way than on a stand-up paddle board. Whether it’s for leisure, fitness or competition you will find your niche on an SUP.
So what are you waiting for? Summer's nearly here!”
For further information on SUP equipment and tuition contact East Coast Paddler
Mobile: 021 - 023 00746
P. 07 574 2674