With its full-body workout and promise of good times even when the waves aren't breaking, stand-up paddle surfing is enjoying a mini-boom, fueled in part by devotees like big-wave stars Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama. "These days, I'm making far more stand-up boards than regular surfboards," says Southern California shaper Ron House, who created Hamilton's signature line. Here, Kalama explains how to get on your feet.
STAND: Find some calm water and stand up in the middle of the board, with your back straight, knees bent, and feet parallel and evenly spaced on either side of the centerline.
MOVE: Grab the top of the paddle with one hand and place the other about three feet down the shaft. Paddle normally and pull back to your feet. In perfect conditions, I go five to ten strokes on each side before I cross over. Swap hand positions when you switch sides.
TURN: Make two backward strokes on the side you want to turn to, then two forward strokes on the opposite side.
RIDE: I catch waves in my parallel stance. As soon as I start to glide, I go to my surfer stance and take another stroke or two.
BUY: Board: Look for one around 12 feet long. The wider the better, but if you plan on riding waves, keep it over 28 inches. Surftech's Laird Hamilton model ($1,500; surftech.com) is great for beginners. Paddle: Stand prospective paddles on end. If they're the right length, you'll just be able to grab the tip with your arm fully extended above your head. Kalama's favorite paddle is QuickBlade Paddles' carbon-fiber Pop's Stand Up ($320; quickbladepaddles.com).