Widgets Using Your Hands

Using Your Hands

I was tipped off today to a new-to-me class of craft, the Paddleboard.  This image is from the look book of shaper Joe Bark. You have the choice the paddling on your knees or prone.  Some models such as the one pictured have rudders with a tiller you can grab with your toes.  Paddleboarding goes back to the early 20th century in Hawaii where paddling was an essential part of being a waterman.  A waterman, I have learned, (at least in US surfing culture) is the oceanic version of a cowboy, multi-talented brave and quiet.  Like the waterman, paddleboarding resides primarily in Hawaii and Southern California.  Like Bull-Riding, Paddleboarding appears incredibly uncomfortable.  Perhaps in part because of this, it seems that paddlers earn points for embracing this far less glossy aspect of surfing.  After the jump, watch a video:

There are now a few producers of paddleboards as well as some well known races, seemingly in the 15 to 35 mile range.  To win a race, plan to paddle your board for many hours at around 4.3 knots (5 mph)!  One place many people may have seen a Paddleboard before is under the lifeguard chair at a local beach or pool.  They were promoted as an important lifesaving tool by surf legend Tom Blake since the 1930′s. 
If you are impatient to see actual paddling, skip to 1:00.

If you research this sport, you will quickly find this technique with one’s hands is not nearly as popular as what is called “stand up paddleboarding,” where the paddler stands and actually uses a paddle.  I plan to blog more about this growing spin-off in a future post.  Also to come, a Canadian who is touring on a paddleboard in northern climes!

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