With origins in 1960’s Hawaiian surf culture, stand up paddle-boarding or SUP’ing isn’t exactly new, but it’s been a slow and steady sell for Canadians. And there’s a good explanation: we have rather limited access to coastline.
Still, SUPing – standing on a wider, thicker, more buoyant version of a surf longboard and paddling with an oar – has experienced a swell in popularity because, as Nelsonite Steve Kerr points out, you don’t necessarily need waves; you can SUP in any body of water, like lakes and rivers. The sport is also easy to learn and reasonably priced, costing as little as $ 1,000 for a beginner board and paddle.
Kerr, a Quebec native drawn to the Kootenays in 1994, is banking on SUP’s growth. In 2011, he left his job as a mason and started Kerr Boards, dedicating himself to being a full-time custom stand-up paddleboard shaper. The 38-year-old father of two creates handmade, hollowed wood boards from sustainably harvested cedar planks from Harrop-Proctor, 30 kilometres north of Nelson, and coats them in vegetable-derived epoxy resin. Birch and maple veneer from the Blewett hills overlooking his home form the board’s frame ribs, reminiscent of a whale’s backbone.
It’s all part of his plan to marry sustainability, style and sport. ” I wanted to be creative and responsible in this passion, so I created an environmentally respectful product…and a piece of art you can hang on your wall in the off season.”
– Bobbi Barbarich