Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) is the newest form of the Girls Night Out, the Coffee Klatch, the Stitch N’ Bitch. Paddleboarding on the lake or the ocean has been one of the fastest growing water sports the Midcoast has seen in the last few years. The water sport first originated in Hawaii and only requires a surf style board, a long paddle and balance. The first time I remember even seeing one and going “The hell?” is when Kea Tesseyman, a local dance instructor, was whipping by on Megunticook Lake on a paddleboard a couple of summers ago. Later, I’d met other women in the Midcoast who had their own boards and gathered together on summer mornings to work out, talk, do yoga on them and work off the scary voices in their heads.
Last summer, I learned how to use one at the same time I learned how to hula hoop. I got Maria Randolph of HOOP ME together with bartender and yoga instructor Stacy Campbell and the three of us decided to have a hula hooping contest on top of the paddleboards. Stacy had never hula hooped before; Maria had never SUP’ed. I’d never done either. We were just nerding out, but didn’t realize hula hooping on paddleboards had already become a trend, along with doing yoga or using them to go fishing.
While it is a watersport equally embraced by men and kids, I started to notice a trend with more women getting together to socialize on paddleboards. Maine Sport Outfitters’ rental associate Ben Hamel said: “It’s definitely a growing sport. And women going out alone or together have made up at least half of our clients. Paddleboards are substantially lighter than kayaks; most of them are in the 20- to 30-pound range, so they are much more manageable for them to lift onto and take off a car." Thorfinn Expeditions co-owner Chris Laughlin agreed. “Probably one of the most exciting parts of standup paddling is that it’s equal, or it could heavily tilted toward the women’s demographic, actually. There seems to be natural attraction between women and SUP; I’m not sure what it is — kind of a Zen factor mixed with a workout. Sales and rentals have been very much active with women.”
Not content to be all herp derp with a hula hoop, I entered the first Paddleboard Jousting Event this summer hosted by Maine, Boats, Homes & Harbors and assisted by Thorfinn Expeditions. With the jousting event, everyone had to have a Medieval-sounding name, a costume, and the willingness to sign paperwork that stated event sponsors were not responsible if you were maimed or died on your board in front of hundreds of people. I have to admit: that unnerved me. I didn’t want to be maimed. [Not the face!] And I definitely didn’t want my last moments on Earth to involve being Lifeflighted out in a plate-mail costume made of PBR cans.
Pressing on. Photographer Jonathan Laurence strapped the “Maim or Die” cam on the top of my helmet. So you know, it’s not easy to paddle toward your opponent with a helmet that keeps covering your eyes, with a mouth guard that obstructs your breathing, while trying to figure which end of the paddle you’re supposed to use. [You: it’s not rocket surgery. Me: shaddup.]
I did okay in the first round. Lady Paddlebeard (who incidentally won the contest) gave me a good jab in the semi-finals. At that point, I gave my best imitation of sliding around on a wax floor coated in Olestra, while trying to simultaneously stamp out a fire and wave at an oncoming car that was about to hit me. For that, I won Best Wipe Out.
September is an ideal time to rent a paddleboard, ladies. The supply of boards will be higher. The season is traditionally dry and hot, perfect weather for paddling and a lot of kids are back in school, freeing up some time for moms and non-moms to get a core workout in and some serious cackling out of the way.
For more info on where to rent/buypaddleboards in the Midcoast and pricing visit: