In recent years I’ve seen a number of changes along our Buffalo waterfront. One of the most noticeable differences is the number of ways to enjoy the water all year ’round. If and when the lake freezes, ice sailing is an incredible sight to see, and of course we have been noticing a huge increase in the number of kayakers hitting the Buffalo River. One recreational sport that I haven’t touched upon is the trend of stand up paddle-boarders (SUP) heading out onto the waters. I first started seeing a couple of these boarders enjoying themselves out on Gala Waters (Hoyt Lake) in Delaware Park a couple years back. Today it’s not unusual to see SUPs paddling around at Canalside.
I spoke to Ward Pinkel, owner of Urban Threads on Elmwood Avenue about the growing trend and he told me that his SUP sales have been increasing steadily each year. “The learning curve is steep,” he said. “Just about anyone can get out on the waters with these boards and navigate the waterways fairly easily. It’s a great way to explore the waterfront and visit different destinations. They are simple to transport and you can launch and land from just about anywhere. Places like the Buffalo River are perfect for SUPs because there is relatively no wind or waves.”
The sport has its roots deeply ingrained in Hawaiian heritage where it is called Hoe he’e nalu. It first appeared when surfing instructors would stand up on longer boards and use paddles to teach their students. Not only could they get around easier, they could also see their students better as well as any obstacles and incoming swell. It didn’t take long for people to see the advantages of the SUP and eventually more and more visitors to Hawaii were standing up on bigger boards that were being made for that exact purpose.
If you want to get into the recreational sport of stand up paddling, stop into Urban Threads and check out their SUP equipment. Ward can show you the ropes and give you some directional advice as to what it takes to get out onto the water. With no limitations regarding where you can ‘put in’, I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to see this growing trend flourish along our waterways.
736 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222