Stand Up paddle (SUP) Boarding in the 1950’s by Peter Cuff It is not really known when SUP boarding first originated, but I first became aware of it in the late 1940’s.
Living on the eastern seaboard of South Africa in a little town very well known for its excellent surf, East London, I was attracted to the sea at a very early age. Australia was always well ahead of South Africa in the experimentation and development of sea craft and about 1950 we became aware that the Australian Surf Lifesaving Association had developed a craft which closely resembles the craft that we are now riding.
It was 9ft long, 36 inches wide and 4 to 5 inches deep with quite a good front and back lift with a fairly large centre keel. The Australians used it for rescues – the patient would lie between the feet of the paddler who would have to hold on for dear life. The craft was also used for pleasure, of course.
In 1949 the South African Lifesaving team competed in Oz and brought back the dimensions of the craft. I immediately started experimenting making proto types – firstly using wooden struts and canvas and progressed to wood veneer covering the wooden frame of struts and then eventually blowing my own blanks using the exothermic characteristics of caradol and carodate and covering with fiber glass.
There were a very small group of us in East London who surfed at that time. The Crocker Ski, as we called it, became a popular craft during the 1950’s and persisted into the mid ‘60’s until the popularity of the long board took over and towards the end of the ’60,s , the short board.
The Kroker ski was confined to the back of the garage and eventually disappeared. One of my earlier boards I disassembled and used the wooden struts for our double bed. All three of my children were, therefore, conceived on the old Stand Up Paddle Board. Frightening thought!
With development of lighter and stronger materials, the modern SUP made its appearance in Hawaii – where else? It quickly caught on across the world and especially in Australia as it is the ideal versatile sea craft.
For the casual flat water paddler, for the yachtsman for getting to the shore from an anchorage in a tropical island paradise, riding small surf when it is even too small for a longboard, long distance paddling and racing, and, of course, surfing any size wave – witness water men such as Laird Hamilton riding monsters at Jaws in Hawaii.
Visiting Having in 2009 I witnessed SUPs being ridden everywhere by every age, size and shape. The more skilled are doing amazing things with their boards and sit even further out than the long boards. There is a little unhappiness by the short boarder who are sitting inside the long boarders and the long boarders sitting inside the SUP paddlers and the SUP paddlers sitting inside the out riggers who are sitting inside the long racing skies who are sitting inside the ocean liners.
My answer to that is if you want to be top of the pecking order, buy yourself an ocean liner, but if you just want to enjoy yourself in every condition, buy yourself a SUP.