SARANAC LAKE — It is a unique view, standing above the water while paddling, looking into deep pools at the bottom.
Along with it, a new sport is gaining pace on the water’s surface here.
Stand-up paddleboards look like surfboards, and they are related to the ocean sport.
They’ve been spotted on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid and on the Saranac River for a few years now.
On Saturday, the Village of Saranac Lake Beach on Lake Colby is home to the first Adirondack Stand-Up Paddlefest, called SUP for short.
And if “s’up” is short for “what’s up,’ the answer is everyone.
Stephen Doxon, owner of Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, created the festival for families, athletes, fishermen and pets alike.
It’s a free celebration event, a welcome-to-try-it adventure with long water boards, designed to be maneuvered with a paddle.
“The thing with stand-up paddling is it’s really fun,” Doxon said. “It’s not as hard as you might think it is. One of the first steps we take with new paddle boarders is to have them kneel on the board and try it. Then, when they stand up, they can see into the water. One activity becoming really popular is fishing from these things.”
The sport evolved from the surfing scene, Doxon said.
“Stand-up paddling has been around for quite a few years; surfers used the method to get beyond the first set of waves and further out into the ocean.”
That technique migrated inland and is even being applied to whitewater-rapids sports.
Most paddleboards that Adirondack Lakes and Trails rent and sell here are made for flatwater riding, providing a stable platform to counter carousing windy ripples on freshwater lakes.
“The boards we have are different than surfboards. They’re not meant to be edged and cut through waves,” Doxon said.
“There are four categories of paddleboard. There is the surfboard, designed for big waves; a flatwater board, designed for paddling on the lakes with no waves other than what the wind might generate. The third type of paddleboard is a racing board, which is longer, more narrow and has a little bit less stability on the front end — the bow is shaped almost like a boat or a kayak.”
And then, he said, a shorter and highly maneuverable board is crafted for whitewater.
‘A PRIME PLACE’
While the sport has drawn increasing interest in the northern Adirondacks over the past two or three years, it’s not technically brand new.
“It’s new from a standpoint of putting the boards on the lakes,” Doxon said.
Maneuverability comes also from the shape of the paddle used. They range in length, Doxon explained.
“It looks like a bent-shaft canoe paddle,” he said. “The short paddle is about 70 inches, and there’s a formula for sizing them.”
Some are adjustable to adapt to children or adults.
Doxon and the Adirondack guides at Adirondack Lakes and Trails decided to create the festival in Saranac Lake to share their growing admiration for the sport and its possibilities.
“We’ve got the prime place for paddling around here,” he said.
“It’s great exercise, and it really is a fun activity.”
A series of races is planned as part of the World Paddling Association circuit on Saturday.
Experienced racers from the East Coast will compete, in part, to demonstrate the evolution of the sport.
But the main idea is to bring families and the curious to the beach for a day-long festival.
“We created this for everybody,” Doxon said.
“It’s a family event for anybody interested in finding what this crazy sport is all about. We’re just making a day of it down there at the beach.”
Adirondack Lakes and Trails plans to make this an annual summer event, with a WPA-sanctioned race component they hope will expand to be a premier Adirondack contest.
IF YOU GO
Adirondack Stand-up Paddlefest takes place Saturday at Lake Colby beach on Route 3 in Saranac Lake. Races begin at 9:30 a.m., with clinics and equipment available to test. There will be food and music, too, with stand-up-paddleboard-inspired activities for the whole family.
9:30 a.m. World Paddling Association-sanctioned Long Course (6-mile) Race.
10 a.m. Sanctioned Short Course (3-mile) Race.
10:00 to 10:30 a.m. Choosing the Right Board clinic with Nick Yunker.
11:30 a.m. Long and short course awards.
12 to 1 p.m. Introduction to SUP Paddling with Danny Mongno.
1 to 1:30 p.m. Long-distance paddle with 90-miler Jan Brabant.
2 p.m. Fun Races, starting with the Sprint Race.
2:30 pm. Tandem Race.
3 p.m. Pooch Race.
3:30 p.m. Fun Race Awards.
4 p.m. Afternoon SUP Guided Tour (one hour).
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