Try SUP boarding
•Contact Kelly Bailey of SUP 101 Lakes at 624-2878 or 579-7532 to make an appointment. SUP 101 Lakes is located at 3260 W. Shady Side, Angola, on Crooked Lake, but Bailey will bring boards to other lakes in Steuben County for a $15 transportation fee.
Monday-Thursday rentals are $20 per hour and $10 each additional hour. Friday-Sunday rentals are $30 per hour and $10 each additional hour. Lessons are free with rental, and Bailey suggests arriving a half-hour early for the lesson.
To learn more about SUP 101 Lakes, find it on Facebook, Twitter at SUP101Lakes or email SUP101Lakes @gmail.com.
•Fort Wayne Outfitters, 1004 Cass St., is also offering rentals, demos and sales. For more information, call 420-3962 or check the Facebook page or website at fwoutfitters.com.
As Hoosiers flock to lakes and reservoirs to beat the heat this summer, a new family-friendly water sport is making waves among local residents.
Stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding is a combination of surfing and kayaking, in which participants stand on surfboard-type flotation devices and push through the water with something like a kayak paddle.
But rather than thrill seeking, these boards are used for core muscle workouts, scenic outings and even yoga.
For the past two summers, Fort Wayne native Kelly Bailey of Miami Beach, Fla., has been living at her family's lake house on Crooked Lake in Angola and offering SUP boarding lessons and rentals at Steuben County lakes through her self-owned and -operated group, SUP 101 Lakes of Kelne LLC.
A lifelong aqua enthusiast, Bailey has been SUP boarding for three years at Miami Beach, and now she's sharing the sport with Fort Wayne area and Steuben County residents.
“I noticed not many people do (SUP boarding) up here, and it's easier in the lake than it is in the ocean,” Bailey said.
One of Bailey's customers is Jeff Fisher of Fort Wayne who began SUP boarding in June. Since then, he has done it on Crooked Lake and Lake James in Angola and on the St. Joseph River at RiverFest. His favorite part about SUP boarding is its slow pace, which allows participants to savor scenery.
“When you're (SUP boarding), you take the time to slow down,” Fisher said. “It's the new kayak.”
Bailey begins her boarding lessons by explaining the different types of boards and paddles. She owns four boards: two for personal use and two she rents to customers. She also sells Riviera-brand epoxy boards.
Although some rentals offer inflatable and foam boards for beginners, Bailey prefers epoxy boards because they are more durable and better quality, which makes them more expensive.
“Buying a board is a big investment,” said Fort Wayne Outfitters owner Cara Hall, who began carrying Tahoe- and Surftech-brand SUP boards a year and a half ago after discovering the sport on a trip to Florida.
Hull says most children's boards range $700-800 and most adult boards are upward of $1,000, typically $1,500-1,800.
Bailey says she's found adult epoxy boards as low as $850.
So far, Hall has sold 15-20 boards at Fort Wayne Outfitters, which she says is a lot for the Fort Wayne area.
“(SUP boarding) is popular because it has a quick learning curve,” Hall said. “A lot of families like it because it's the cool new thing.”
Bailey says the boards come in a broad range of heights and styles custom designed for the user and the use.
“The most popular size is an 11-foot 6-inch,” Bailey said. “Everyone can paddle on that. Mine has a 32-inch width.”
Bigger boards are wider, which makes it easier for beginners to get up and balance, Bailey says. But she prefers a smaller board, such as a 10-foot 6-inch.
“It's more of a workout, more of a challenge,” Bailey said.
Although many of her customers are worried about waves, Bailey says the biggest challenge is wind, which makes balancing difficult.
During lessons, Bailey coaches her customers in the water as they mount the boards. She tells them to use their elbows on the board to pull their knees up.
“It's similar to the way you kneeboard,” Fisher said.
Once they feel comfortable on their knees, Bailey tells them to hold their paddle like a balancing stick used by tightrope walkers and stand up one foot at a time.
“Almost everyone falls the first time,” Bailey said. “But it's like learning to ride a bike. Once you find your center of gravity, you've got it.”
Bailey then shows customers to how use the paddle strokes to move, slow down and turn around.
She says paddles cost $60-$300 and come in adjustable and custom cut options. She recommends custom carbon fiber paddles for frequent SUP borders because they are lighter and tailored to fit the user.
Like Bailey, Hall also offers rentals and lessons.
Last summer, she taught weekly demos on the St. Marys River in front of her store. Although water levels are lower this year, Hall says she plans to teach demos elsewhere. Dates and times for the demos will be announced on Fort Wayne Outfitters Facebook page and website, Hall said.
She also hopes to start a paddle board yoga class on the water, in which people use their SUP boards as yoga mats.
“Yoga is the new thing on paddle boards now,” Hall said. “It's challenging, but it's fun.”
For those looking for a more aggressive way to use the boards, water jousting is another new option.
“It'll be interesting to see what other sports pop up on the boards,” Bailey said. “With the bigger boards, you can put things on them and just go out for the afternoon.”
Hall says she and her husband put their children on their boards and take them on rides. She also says foam cushions are available for customers to transport dogs.
“A lot of people want to try it,” Hall said.