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East Coast Paddler – stand up paddle board coaching

Tauranga ‘Great Place’ to Learn Booming Water Sport

Tauranga, Tuesday, 14/12/2010

Media Release: East Coast Paddler – stand up paddle board coaching

Tauranga - a water sports mecca - is now one of the best places in the country to learn stand up paddle boarding (SUP) - one of the world’s fastest-growing water activities.

That’s according to the Western Bay of Plenty’s first dedicated (SUP-only) stand up paddle board school now operating at Mount Maunganui, East Coast Paddler Limited.

Spokesperson Hiria Rolleston says the launch of the school with its International Surfing Association (ISA) – qualified coaches, shows the sport finally coming of age in this country.

“Some surf schools have had stand up paddle boards for a while now, but it’s been an add-on to their core surfing lessons. On the other hand, we are rather fanatical specialists, if you like, who only teach stand up paddle boarding – both flat water paddling and surfing skills. ”

ECP caters for everyone from complete newcomers learning on flat water, to more experienced paddlers who want to up-skill, so they can hit the surf on their SUP. “Stand up is not hard – there are a few basics in terms of paddle technique and safety, but almost everyone is up and paddling happily in their first lesson,” she says.

“We use inflatable boards for people’s first lessons as they are so user-friendly – safe and stable. They are perfect for novices who might be intimidated by a larger, solid paddle board.”

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Tauranga has an ever-increasing band of stand up paddle board or SUP enthusiasts, she says. “They range from people who never go near the surf and just love the fitness workout and pleasures of paddling on the harbour, to hardcore surfers riding quite short paddle boards.”

Some long-time surfers have crossed over to the sport as a new, fun way to surf – and ride uncrowded waves. And SUP also provides a great pathway to ‘normal’ surfing because it is far easier to get your balance and catch a small wave on the larger boards, she adds.

The sport originated in Hawaii and has swept round the world, being adapted to all sorts of different bodies of water. There are now boards for the surf, flat water cruising, racing, ocean trekking, river running, etc.

Until now, SUP has been a little out of reach for many people, with a paddle board costing upwards of $3000. “All that has changed as a quick look at Trademe shows. There are plenty of second-hand boards on the market, and family-friendly inflatable boards have also come on the market. ”

Most inflatables cost less than $1500, they are light and stable, a good entry level SUP board. The inflatables have another big advantage in that they are a ‘board in a bag’ that’s easy to transport and pump up.

Hiria says that while inflatable paddle boards go nowhere near their solid cousins for surf performance, but they make an ideal family ‘mess about,’ or learner’s board. They weigh about 12kg and harmlessly bounce off you in a wipe out.

Inflatables available locally include new boards called Blowfish from leading New Zealand white water raft manufacturer, Incept, English-designed Red Airs, and top Hawaiian company C4 produces its own blow-up called the iSUP, says Hiria.

She says East Coast Paddler is an agent for inflatables which have been bought by everyone from families who want a robust board ‘for beach or bach,’ to boaties keen to replace their weighty plastic sit-on kayak strapped to the deck, with something more user friendly.

East Coast Paddler Limited (ECP) was launched by leading local paddle boarders, Seaton and Hiria Rolleston (‘ambassadors for C4), who’ve since taken surfing veteran and local journalist Grant Dyson on board.

“Seaton, Grant and I have all just completed both surfing instructor and stand up paddle board courses run by Surfing New Zealand that will give us International Surfing Association (ISA) accreditation. It means we are properly qualified to teach our sport in line with world standards.”


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