Prone paddling was here first. So was surfing. This has nothing to do with anything, except that you’ll see a post once in a while where paddlers who have been paddling prone will say something like, “It’s Paddleboarding, not Prone!”
Most of the paddlers I know who paddle traditional boards were in one of two groups:
(1) Current and former lifeguards who used rescue paddleboards
(2) Surfers who wanted to keep in paddle shape when there were no waves.
I can tell you why I like it: It’s completely different. It feels like a swim workout. And, when you get in a downwind bump, it feels like flying. Candice Appleby once told me it was as close as you could get “to feeling like a dolphin.” She’s right. The experience, much like traditional surfing, is a much more intimate, water-contact experience. You are in the water as opposed to above it, so it’s a different sensation. When I get out of the water, I feel the same as I do after a really hard swim workout. It’s that same swimmers high. I never got a runners high, but I imaging it’s similar. I like mixing it up with a prone paddle one day followed by a standup paddle the next.
I bought a used 14 from Chris Aguilar (Bark and Quickblade) and love it.
This morning, we headed out at dawn. There were three of us paddling two 14′ custom Barks and a 18′ Custom Bark with a rudder. I’ve been paddling for a year, but inconsistently. Dave Baker, from Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue, has ben paddling consistently for over a year or two on the bigger boards. And for Chris Johnson, this morning was his first paddle ever.
If you get a chance to try it, try it. For people who love to swim, it’s a natural transition. For triathletes, it’s perfect for the same reasons. Or, if you’re just looking for another challenge, go for it. There are a number of used boards available as well as new ones. Surftech has the Commander, a stock (12′) traditional paddleboard modeled after the prone board jack Bark used to win the Carolina Cup in 2012.
I’ll be writing more on traditional paddleboarding now that I have more of a network of prone paddlers.