Gear: Paddleboards

Paddleboards | BCBusiness

Stand-up paddleboarding may be in its infancy, but the sport’s popularity has manufacturers stoked about its growth

The recent explosion of stand-up paddleboarding (SUPing) looks a lot like windsurfing’s 1980s heydays. That sport became fashionable among young professionals with disposable incomes and a penchant for physical fitness, before it tanked hard in the 1990s thanks to licensing battles over designs and equipment that became too technical for the average Joe to use it.

Like windsurfing in the ’80s, today sports retailers are clamouring to carry SUPs, which fly out of stores, to boost their bottom lines. (Though they’re not as easy money as they seem at a glance, thanks to hidden costs from shipping damage and storing the huge boards to delivery expenses that chew into profit margins.)

Unlike windsurfing, however, paddleboarding appears poised for deeper reach and a longer lifespan. Its target market is broad (if you can swim and paddle, you can SUP), its versatility enormous (you can SUP on any body of water deep enough to float a board, on waves or flat water and on calm or windy days).

“This is a sport that most people can do,” says Declan Sacre, owner and vice-president of sales and marketing at Trident Performance Sports in North Vancouver (, which distributes Starboard SUPs, the number one recognized paddleboards on the market. He says the key question to answer before you buy is: Where are you going to be using it? In waves, on flat water or both? And don’t forget your paddle.

ABOVE The Starboard Blend Wood Construction is an all-around board: it provides enough glide for flat-water cruising and good stability for catching waves, and it gives a nimble performance once up and riding. It’s 30 inches wide, which in paddleboarding Sacre says is the “magic number for stability” (11’2” x 30’, $1,899; A quality paddle is as essential to SUPing as a quality wetsuit is to surfing in cold water.

The Enduro Wood Paddle with carbon shaft is incredibly lightweight but well-balanced to provide power in every pull through the water ($319).

RIGHT Compact and lightweight, the Starboard Surf Hero offers high performance and a stable shape for dedicated wave riding (9’x 33”, $2,799 in carbon,



LEFT The Starboard Exploring touring model navigates waterways with stability and optimal glide—perfect for speed and going on longer trips (12’6” x 30”, $1,359,



RIGHT The Starboard Astro Blend pumps up to 18 psi. Inflatable boards give “95 per cent performance of the carbon or wood boards,” says Sacre (11’2” x 32”, from $1,149,