Do You Know the History of SUP?

paddle boards

Have you ever wondered how your favorite sport, stand up paddle boarding became a thing?


Some people credit ancient Africans for SUP due to their use of wooden boards and paddles to move along rivers and streams. This allowed them to glide through the waters to transport belongings and fish. American and Mayan indians are known for this early form of “SUP” as well.


However, 1939 was the year that paddle boarding was actually identified as a sport. Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku was filmed at Waikiki beach using a paddle in the surf. Instead of his usual style for catching waves, he was seen with a wooden paddle tethered to his board. This was not surprising, Duke was known for pushing himself and his board in order to get the perfect ride. This was a groundbreaking moment for SUP, though, as it was the first time someone had been videotaped surfing with a paddle.


Another surfing legend, Bobby AhChoy, soon followed Duke’s lead. He adopted this technique after a car accident left him unable to swim. According to SUP World Magazine, “Pops” AhChoy would use his paddle board to photograph surfers and shout out tips to help them find the chocie swells.


AhChoy eventually taught his technique to yet another surf rockstar, John Zapotocky, who moved to Hawaii in 1940. Zap was a gifted athlete who fell in love with SUP. He paddled daily until he died in 2013 at the age of 95, and is now known as the father of SUP.


Uncrowded waves were soon taken over by surfers turned SUP-pers. SUP was a great option for surfers, allowing them to train on paddle boards to strengthen their core and balance. World class surfers loved SUP because it allowed them to spend every day on the water, even when the surf was flat.


By 2009, stand up paddle boarding had become the fastest-growing paddle sport. This quick growth created competition to build the best SUP board possible. With each board created, they became sleeker, more durable and faster. The only downside was their bulk. Early boards were heavy and difficult to carry.


Solving the bulk problem was motivation for the iROCKER team. We became determined to solve the challenge, creating an inflatable board that was durable and convenient, as well as sleek and stable.


iRockers are designed to withstand harsh terrain and practically any water hazard out there. We use the best materials on the market today and build our boards to hold multiple riders or even a water-loving pet. Yogis get a double win because iROCKER boards also work as a stable on-water spot for SUP yoga.


Of course, iROCKER awesomeness doesn’t end there. All of our boards are designed to give riders convenience, comfort, stability and fun. For example, for those who are uncomfortable standing on a SUP board (or even those who need a break), every board comes pre-fitted to convert to a kayak. In minutes, you can convert your SUP board to a kayak with our Kayak Bundle. Attach the seat, add on the kayak blade attachment, and explore.


We are so proud of everything we have created at iROCKER, but we owe thanks to those early surfers who pioneered our sport and inspired our ideas. Thanks to them, iROCKER was born and continues to improve the sport  year after year.


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