STAND UP PADDLE (SUP) is the fastest growing watersport in the world. It is quite popular because the learning curve is so easy and people of all ages and skill can quickly master it. It also provides a low impact full body workout and an eco-friendly way to experience the outdoors.
Michi Calica-Sotto is a fashion designer who got hooked on SUP and is now certified by the Academy of Surfing Instructors (ASI), the highest level of certification for “supping” instructors. She teaches newbies the safest way to SUP, the proper form, and efficient paddling techniques, all in a SUP Immersion program in Caliraya Lake.
Here are some important tips and tricks for newbies who want to get into the SUP craze…
Lake Caliraya is beautiful and peaceful, and the water is quite clear with no trash in sight.
Some say SUP originated in Hawaii. One day when surfers were waiting for the waves and there were none, someone picked up a paddle and went paddling on his board.
The most important tip is your attitude towards water. If you love swimming and you’re not afraid to fall, then learning is easy.
Wear a lot of sunscreen, proper clothes like a rashguard or dry fit shirt, and a cap.
It’s a pretty easy sport that’s low impact and addresses the whole body, especially the core, legs, and arms for power.
Wearing a life jacket is a must for beginners.
The first lesson is getting to know the parts of the board–the nose, tail, deck, rails, and fin.
(Tip: Try not to touch the fin, because of it’s slim and sharp structure. The fin is what helps the board keep its balance.)
One of the most important rules is to use the leg strap/leash, which is your lifeline. When you fall, your are connected to your board that doubles as a floating device.
It’s similar to the surfers’ leash, but this one is coiled. You should never paddle without a leg strap.
The Right Way to Fall
Put it where you’re most comfortable wearing it. For those right handed, place it on your right foot and vice versa. Make sure to place the coil behind the leg so it won’t interfere when you paddle.
(Tip: Learning to unstrap real quick is also a must, in case you run into sharp corals and get tangled up.)
Next is how to fall safely. Falling away from your board will heighten your chances of keeping you out of harm’s reach.
Distance yourself from your board. You are prone to get injured when you fall flat on the board.
Measurement of the Paddle
It is recommended to use a carbon paddle, which is really light and easy. Unlike those in resorts that are made of aluminum and feels like a barbell.
The SUP paddle is unique because it has a certain grip and length.
The measurement of the paddle is different for each person’s height. To measure, make sure the blade of the paddle is facing out.
Put your hand up and adjust the handle until it hits your wrist. Then hold the grip firmly with your hand.
How To Stand
How to mount the board the safest way: First, put your paddle in the center of the board.
Next, sit on the pontoon, then you go slowly in the center of the board and kneel.
(Tip: Do not jump on the board, you will get injured.)
Some will paddle kneeling until they are comfortable to stand. Make sure you are in the center where there is an icon or hole on the board.
Once you are ready, put your hand on the deck, put one foot out on the deck then second foot then slowly take your time and get up.
(Tip: If your paddle falls rest assured that it will float.)
If you want to stand on both feet together normally you would go a little forward from the center and push your arms then stand.
How to Paddle
Always grip the paddle with one hand on the top of the paddle and the other on the center of the shaft to keep your paddling straight and controlled.
Rather than pulling you paddle through the water, think about pulling past your paddle.
(Tip: Make sure your grip on the paddle is shoulder width apart. Short grips will give you a powerless stroke.)
To stay in a straight line, take a few strokes on one side then switch to a few strokes on the other.
To turn left, place the paddle in the water on the right side and at the same time turn your torso to the left side.
(Tip: Always remember to switch the position of your hands when your paddle changes sides.)
Notice when Michi paddles she bends her back. The bending of the leg gives you some power and won’t make you tired.
(Tip: If you feel awkward, ask Coach Michi about your form.)
How To Stop
To stop, do a back paddle on one side.
How to Turn
Turning with the Reverse Sweep Stoke.
To turn right, place the paddle near the tail and pull towards the nose. Allowing the board’s nose to spin to the right-hand side.
(Tip: The more you bend your knees, the easier it will be to turn the board.)
As you get more experienced with paddling, your body builds the muscle memory for SUP. Now, you are ready to go on your first SUP tour of Caliraya Lake with Patrick Gutierrez!
Where to Stay for SUP in Lake Caliraya?
Michi recommends Soloviento, a private family resort because it is an ideal place for SUP beginners due to the flat water of the lagoon. And it’s only 3 hours from Manila.
It’s a unique homey place where like-minded people who are into SUP, kitesurfing, windsurfing, and pretty much any water sport hang out.
The resort was built with the simple idea of self-maintaining itself, and for the owners to hang around with friends and people with the same interests.
Use Waze to navigate your way from Manila to Laguna to Lake Caliraya. Make sure not to miss the sign that says Soloviento on the main road.
(Tip: You have to turn on this small road; this is before Lagos.)
An open space parking is available just before the port.
You would need to ride the barge to get to the mini resort. Beep your horn and wave your hands for them to notice. But you are usually expected in advance.
The tent is P2500/night good for four people. It’s more of a supported camping setup, with services like porters and cooks.
The tent includes two queen sized beds, pillows, blanket, charging stations, lights, and an electric fan.
Rooms are priced at P2000-P2500, good for 4 to 5 people respectively.
The resort has a separate communal bathroom for male and female complete with showers and toilets.
The kitchen is run by Connie’s Kitchen because Connie personally manages and adds her ideas to it.
The menu is a compilation of the family recipes of the four owners that all come from good cooks. All the ingredients are of good quality and mostly organic.
(Note: Additional P100 for the service and another P100 for non-member fee when dining at the restaurant.)
Gambas w/ toast (P190)
The best appetizer they have is their garlicky gambas. We liked the tomato sauce–it wasn’t as spicy and is best paired with bread instead of rice.
Tinolang Manok w/ Rice (P180)
Their tinola is a great choice and quite refreshing because they cook it with lemon grass.
Spanish Chorizo with Mushrooms Pizza (P450)
We like the thin crusted pizzas topped with a generous amount of ingredients.
Grilled Pork Chops (P180)
My favorite would be the pork chop. The flavors were more on the sweeter side and it was cooked just enough to maintain the juiciness of the pork.
Baby Back Ribs (Half Rack – P370)
The ribs were quite sweet and enough to make you full.
Overall, Coach Michi did a great job helping us learn the basics of SUP. With a few strokes, we were confident enough to venture deep into Caliraya Lake.
The key to getting the hang of it is to not be afraid to fall into the water and most of all, to just have fun…muscle memory will do all the work. The SUP immersion weekend is all about safety that’s why you’re able to enjoy it fully!
For more information, get in touch with Coach Michi at SUP Central for the next immersion program, the latest 2016 Starboards (top SUP board brand), and advice on what gear to buy.
Stand Up Paddle (SUP) P500/hour
Kiteboarding equipment and instructor P2500/hour
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our SUP immersion was courtesy of our friend Michi Calica. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. Join the next 2-day SUP Immersion program on May 13-15 at Soloviento, Lake Caliraya. Contact SUP CENTRAL c/o Michi at [email protected] and
Mobile: +63 917 891-1968.
P.P.S. Watch out for the launch of SUP Club Philippines organized by ASI members, to show you the new secret destinations for supping.