West Coast native Matthew McFarland has been on the water most of his life.
Originally from southern California, McFarland is an avid surfer — traditional surfing, kite surfing and windsurfing.
On a surf trip with some friends five years ago, McFarland added one more type of board sport to his list of hobbies: Stand-up paddle surfing (SUP).
“I really liked it and made it my main tool for riding waves rather than a traditional board,” McFarland, 40, said. “I love the aspect of standing the whole time, that perspective of being on the water.”
When McFarland, owner of his own photography studio, moved to St. Louis last summer, he began looking to local waterways to continue SUP. “I’m always in search of water,” he said.
Stand-up paddle surfing is exactly what it sounds like: standing on an oversized surfboard and propelling yourself with a paddle. The boards are wider and longer (typically over 30 inches wide and over nine feet long) and more buoyant than traditional surfboards, McFarland said. The dimensions provide stability for a stand-up surfer, regardless of a person’s height or weight. “I’ve taken friends out that never fall in no matter how much they weigh,” McFarland said. “A person with any kind of athletic ability can go out on a stand up board, they shouldn’t be intimidated.”
McFarland said the sport not only fed his appetite for outdoor activities but also provided the added benefit of exercise. The 5’9”, 150-pound surfer said SUP is his primary method of staying fit. He said a 2.5-mile paddle on Creve Coeur Lake was a good workout that targeted his core and other muscles groups, including the legs and lower back. Resistance from paddling also works the body’s stabilizer muscles, McFarland said.
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