Paddleboarding has migrated a long way since its early days on the beaches in Hawaii. Once seen as a way for surfers to kill time waiting for good swells, today’s paddleboarders are racing, practicing yoga, catching fish, touring rivers and oceans, and paddling for exercise. Just about anyone can get up on a paddleboard and start enjoying the sport within 10 minutes.

Basics of Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is also known as standup paddleboarding, or SUP for short. Bascially, you stand, or kneel, on a long board similar to a surfboard and propel yourself with a single paddle. It almost simulates the feeling of walking on the water. The combination of balancing and paddling creates an excellent full-body workout, especially strengthening your core. There are no sudden or jolting maneuvers, so paddleboarding is a low-impact sport that the whole family can enjoy right away.

Getting started in paddleboarding is easy and does not take a lot of equipment. You need:

A SUP. Many boards today are designed for more specific pursuits. There are SUPs designed for long, touring paddle trips; others are created to be fishing platforms. And there are still great all-around recreational boards. Tell us what you want to do and our knowledgeable staff members can point you to the boards that will take you there.

A paddle. Think of a canoe paddle that is slightly angled and has an extended reach. To maximize your enjoyment, paddles should be sized properly to the paddler. We can show you the right size and which paddles fall into your range.

A PFD. SUPs are classified as vessels by the Coast Guard, and as such a personal flotation device is required to be on board anytime you are not paddling in a surf or swimming area. Our staff can show you the variety of PFDs on the market today.

A leash. This handy piece of equipment tethers the paddler to the paddleboard. It usually consists of a velcro strap around the ankle and a plastic-coated cord that attaches to the back of the SUP. This way, if you fall off in a current, you can more easily retrieve your board and use it as a flotation device.

A safety whistle. In case of emergency, a pea-less plastic whistle can be used to signal for help.

Accessories. These include dry bags for gear, bungee cords for securing gear, sun protection, hats and sunglasses.

Instruction and Trips

We carry a selection of boards from top manufacturers, including Bote, Surftech, Sol, Oxbow and Bic. We also have roof racks from Thule, Yakima and Malone, and even trailers to haul all your watersport gear.

At Bill Jackson’s we like to say every day is demo day, so stop in, check out our inventory of SUPs, talk to a staff member and we can put you on the lake behind the shop within minutes.

We offer free SUP classes on the first and third Saturdays of every month beginning at 9:45 am. Join us to learn the basics of getting up on a board, the strokes and the different styles of boards available. All you need to bring is clothes and footwear to get wet in, a towel and sun protection. We’ll take care of the rest. Reservations are required. Call 727-576-4169.

Periodically, we lead trips to local rivers and springs, including Weeki Wachee and Rainbow River. Call the shop or check out our Events listing. SUP trips explore many hidden treasures of aquatic Florida and provide a terrific way to socialize with other paddlers.

Bill Jackson’s organizes groups of paddlers to provide support during the swimming portions of many local triathlons, including the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg.