AHAA Living: WasSUP Stand Up Paddleboarding

WasSUP with this Stand Up Paddling craze?

I have been fortunate enough to surf some amazing places in Hawaii, California and Mexico over the years; but living in Toronto, the best chance to catch a wave is more likely at a ball game. One cold spring day 6 years ago, while walking the dog along the boardwalk in the Beach, I saw the strangest sight. Some guy was in a wet suit standing on a large surf board – PADDLING! I was intrigued and within months I was the proud owner of a Starboard SUP and ready to try my hand at what is becoming one of the fastest growing sports in North America.

My limited surfing background certainly helped, but the ease in which I was able to get up and start paddling in calm water was surprising; and the stability of the board was very confidence-inspiring. Soon I was venturing into choppier conditions and doing longer and longer paddles. The workout is amazing and I have to credit SUP for keeping my core strong. It’s a perfect complement for my other endurance sports (cycling and running); it’s great for balance; and it’s a beautiful form of meditation. When you are paddling on a still morning, even on Lake Ontario in the biggest metropolis in Canada, all is strangely still and zen.

Last fall, SUP instructor Gudrun Hardes took some of my staff for a SUP yoga lesson and it was amazing. Everyone was blown away by how tough and fun it was, even when one of us fell into the chilly waters! There are so many ways to enjoy SUP. I have paddled the Bone Fish Flats in the Bahamas, surfed storm waves on Lake Ontario, navigated the Rouge River, and even paddled the inter-island waterways of the Toronto Islands. I encourage you to try this beautiful and accessible sport. There are quite a few instruction and rental companies in Canada. In Toronto, check out Surf Ontario for lessons and a great selection of boards.

What’s next? I am meeting Olympic Gold Medallist Simon Whitfield down in Exuma to do some serious paddling around the hundreds of cays and I hope I can keep up! Cheers.


Howard Chang explores life with passion and curiosity. He’s a photographer, avid cyclist, snow boarder, adventure sport enthusiast, and the President & CEO of Top Drawer Creative – the first dedicated full-service ad agency to earn BCorp certification in Canada. Howard helped found the AHAA Living community; he’s a huge advocate of healthy and socially responsible living, living his life and running his business by that mantra. Follow him on Twitter @adcycle.

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