For more than a decade, stand-up paddling has been growing in popularity - putting down roots in Hawaii and on the West Coast.
And in recent years the activity often referred to as SUP has been catching on in the Adirondacks.
On Saturday, the sport will take one more leap in the world of Adirondack recreation with the first-ever Adirondack SUP Festival at Lake Colby beach in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The festival is organized by Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters in Saranac Lake and features races, clinics and free demos.
"Stand up paddling is kind of new, especially in the Northeast," said Jason Smith of Adirondack Lakes and Trails. "It's just starting to make itself known in the Northeast now. We're seeing more and more people ask about it, kind of wondering what it is all about, and we're just starting to get into it ourselves."
Because of that interest, Smith thought a festival would be a good way to introduce people to the activity that is quickly growing in popularity.
According to the Outdoor Foundation's 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation report, SUP is the nation's third fastest growing outdoor activity. Recreational kayaking topped the list, followed by bow hunting.
There were more than 1.2 million people that tried out SUP in 2011, according to the report. That number marked an 18 percent jump over the previous year.
Of course, that still puts SUP far behind traditional activities such as canoeing, which had 9.8 million participants in 2011, and recreational kayaking, which had 8.2 million participants.
Smith said that part of the fun of SUP is that it offers a new perspective because the paddler is high above the water while on the board. In SUP, people stand up on a board that is usually in the range of 12 feet long and use a paddle to propel themselves along the water.
One difference between kayaking or canoeing and SUP is that there isn't much of a chance to relax while standing on the board. It takes concentration and energy to balance on the water.
"You're constantly moving," Smith said. "You're constantly working the board."
Because of that, it's a great workout.
Although standing on the board comes naturally for some people, Smith said he usually has people kneel their first time to get the hang of it. As they feel more comfortable, they stand up and try new things.
The boards can actually be pretty specialized. There are now ones for activities such as fishing, racing and whitewater, in addition to more stable versions for flatwater.
For people wanting to try out the activity, there will be free demos from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. There will also be several clinics that cost $20 (that includes a SUP rental). The first one is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday with Werner Paddles' Danny Mongo. That will focus on foward paddling. Another introductory clinic will take place at noon Saturday.
In addition to the clinic and demos, there will be races held throughout the day. The first race will be a 6-mile long race at 9:30 a.m., will be followed by 3-mile race. In the afternoon, there will be several less-serious races. The fun race, which costs $5, starts at 2 p.m. It will be followed by a tandem race and a pooch race for people who want to take their dog on the water.
Prizes such as dry bags, paddles and other gear will be handed out to the winners.
The goal of the festival is "to create a fun on-water family activity," Smith said.
The festival will also have food from Green Goddess Foods of Lake Placid and Woody's Brats and Hots. The Saranac Lake Skate Park Committee will be there with the Rotary Club selling snow cones and cotton candy in an effort to raise money and support.
For more info and a full schedule of events, call 1-800-491-0414 or visit www.adirondacksupfestival.com.