Make waves with paddleboarding

Make waves with paddleboarding

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Maria Raheel, instructor at LISUP, strikes a pose on the board. Photos by Michael Chinnici

By Lisa Steuer

While surfing on Long Island is not extremely common, stand up paddleboarding is more popular than ever in the warmer months — and the good news is that you don’t need to be experienced to get started.

Long Island SUP is just one of the local companies with introductory classes featuring certified instructors, rentals, tours and even fitness classes on the paddleboard. In operation for the last 10 years, LISUP offers paddle boarding on Fire Island and in Smithtown and Patchogue.

Owner and instructor Joe Funaro was a surfer and a life guard, and also does windsurfing and kitesurfing — so getting into paddle boarding was a natural progression for him, he said.

“Surfing on Long Island is very difficult because the weather conditions have to be perfect to surf – it has to be a north wind at low tide,” said Funaro. “Stand up paddleboard surfing, because there is a paddle, enables you to surf smaller waves.”

At LISUP, first-timers typically start with the introduction to stand up paddle boarding class before coming back to rent boards and venture out on their own. In addition, like many other paddleboarding companies, LISUP also offers yoga/paddle fitness classes. More and more yogis are taking their practice to the paddleboard and the water because it creates more instability, making your core work harder.

“We call it yoga fusion because we are fusing both disciplines… so there are a lot of Pilates moves in it, there’s a lot of yoga in it, and then there’s core strength,” said Funaro.

Paddleboarding itself is not too difficult to learn – it’s harder to understand the wind direction, said Funaro. On the North Shore, for example, the wind is pushing you away from the beach toward Connecticut, while on the South Shore, the wind is pushing you in toward shore.

And while injuries are not too common, it’s important to be aware of your environment when paddleboarding and to look out for boats. If a boat creates a wake, “that wake is similar to somebody running through a stop sign; you’re not expecting that,” he said.

Plus, another way to ensure a safer paddleboarding experience is to simply go to a place like LISUP that has certified instructors and areas they already use for paddle boarding, rather than attempting to go out by yourself. “We have our locations to rent the boards because those areas we know best as far as what’s under the water,” he said.

The popularity of paddleboarding continues to grow, and there are also more long-distance races popping up, said Funaro, who has done a race around Manhattan. He has also paddled to Connecticut and Fire Island among others, and also offers paddling tours to those places as well, in addition to sunset paddling.

LISUP offers paddle boarding until October. For more information, visit www.longisland-sup.com.

Get on board
In addition to LISUP, here are a few more local stand up paddleboard companies:

  • Step Into Liquid Stand Up Paddle Board Long Island: Cold Spring Harbor. Contact: 516-302-6852.
  • Epic Paddle Boarding: Various locations. More information: www.epicpaddleboarding.com.
  • Huntington Stand Up Paddle Board: Huntington Harbor. More information: www.huntingtonsup.com.