There’s no sitting down on the job when Melody Elliott coaches the technique and reveals the pleasure of gliding across the water on a stand-up paddle board.
A quick lesson from Elliott at Beaver Lake has paddlers moving gracefully across the water, turning the board left and right with ease. Boarders steer with an extra-long paddle designed for the activity.
Hop on a board
Stand-up paddle boards are seen more and more on Northwest Arkansas waterways. The activity took off nationally around 2000 when surfers from Hawaii brought the sport to the mainland.
Life jacket requirements for stand-up paddle boards are the same on Arkansas waters as with any boat. Boarders need to wear a life jacket, or at least have one on their paddle board. Children 12 and younger must wear a life jacket.
Information: Melody Elliott, 479-244-7380, or sup-outfitters.com.
Source: Staff report and isup.com.
Elliott lives by the lake near Eureka Springs. She’s been teaching boarding more than 10 years and brought several paddle boards to Dam Site Park for an event hosted by the Beaver Watershed Alliance.
July was Lake Appreciation Month around the nation. A stand-up paddle board clinic was on the list of events the alliance hosted to help people appreciate Beaver Lake. It’s the region’s drinking water supply and an economic engine.
Avid stand-up paddle boarders just use the letters SUP to identify their activity. For Elliott, that could stand for Such Unbridled Passion when students feel her infectious enthusiasm for paddling a long board.
“To me it’s therapy. It’s healing on the water. It gets you out in nature and you feel good. You just feel good when you’re out on a body of water,” she said.
Clear water lapped the rocky shore while Elliott lifted one of a half-dozen boards from a rack on her pickup. There was no grimace, no strain when she lifted the board.
Stand-up paddle boards are light. A board 12 feet long weighs about 30 pounds. Most everyone can carry a board to the water by themselves. That’s just one of a long list of pluses.
“It’s something you can do by yourself or with friends,” she said.
Like kayaks and canoes, there are stand-up paddle boards for every skill level and purpose. Beginners might buy an entry-level board, then swap it for a longer board later. In the world of stand-up paddle boards, length equals speed, much the same as with kayaks.
Stand-up paddle boards are versatile, Elliott explained. Most are used on flat water, but Elliott has gone down the Mulberry River on one. There are boards for fishing. An ice chest can be carried on them.
Stand-up paddle board yoga is taking the nation by storm, and Elliott offers SUP yoga at Beaver Lake. She rents boards and gives SUP eco-tours on the lake.
Aspiring paddle boarders generally seek out an instructor like Elliott or try out a friend’s board. Once someone sees the activity is for them, there’s a modest investment for a board, paddle and accessories like a quality life jacket.
“For me, it’s essential that people were a life jacket and use a leash,” Elliott emphasized. That leash is a coiled cord fastened to the board, which is strapped to a paddler’s ankle.
That way, if a paddler tumbles into the water, his board won’t blow out of reach or get carried away by waves or current.
Elliott helped Becky Roark with Beaver Watershed Alliance hop on a board and secure its leash around her ankle. Paddle boarders start on their knees, then stand up in the center of the board with their knees bent and relaxed, as demonstrated by Elliott.
Roark was gliding over the chop in no time. She wasn’t fazed by the wake of a passing power boat that bounced the board up and down.
“We’re 75 percent water so maybe we need to spend 75 percent of our time on the water,” Roark joked after her lesson.
“You did great!” Elliott praised, gushing such unbridled passion for her sport.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 08/21/2018