Paddleboarders are everywhere this year! You’ve probably seen them drifting across Reston’s lakes, almost walking on water. Adventurous locals are trying stand up paddleboarding (SUP) more than ever.
SUP is the nation’s fastest growing water sport, and its popularity is certainly visible here in Reston. Fans of the sport describe it as so peaceful and fun that they don’t even notice the full-body workout it provides.
There have been many more SUP sightings in Reston this year, thanks to Surf Reston. This local company was founded in 2012, with the permission of the Reston Association, to offer SUP instruction and rental on local lakes. Since then, the company has grown to offer several tours a week.
Summer weather is still here! There’s still plenty of time for water sports. If you’ve ever wanted to try paddleboarding, but haven’t known how to get started, Surf Reston could be your answer.
Modern Reston spoke with Steve Gurney, a certified SUP instructor with Surf Reston:
Why do you think the Reston community has embraced SUP and Surf Reston?
We have given Reston residents the opportunity to try a fun, family-oriented activity before they make a large investment in equipment. We have also introduced them to the sport with a better understanding about safety, equipment and technique. Most importantly, we remind them of the great water resources that we have in Reston, and the importance to keep our lakes safe and beautiful. I feel very good about offering our community a resource where they can learn this great activity in their own backyard.
How much athletic skill is required to try it?
Athletic skills will help, but the boards are extremely stable. This season we have had an 80-year-old paddling, and several people that were apprehensive about their ability to balance. My experience as an adaptive snow sports instructor helps me deliver a customized experience to each paddler’s abilities.
Although we refer to these as “stand up” paddleboards, I tell people that you don’t need to stand up. You can paddle on your knees or sitting down with equal enjoyment. Most folks do a combination of all three, no matter how experienced they are.
Are there any age requirements?
We have had taught people ranging in age from 5 to 80 years old. Regardless of age, each paddler should feel comfortable in the water with a lifejacket.
What services will Surf Reston be offering during the fall of 2014?
Fall will wind down our season, but we hope to be conducting sessions as long as the water temperatures permit. Our primarily service is an Introduction to SUP session, which lasts 1.5 – 2 hours and provides an overview of safety, equipment and basic paddle strokes.
In addition, we have partnered with athletic trainers and yoga teachers to offer fitness sessions on SUP. These are open to people who have their own SUPs, but we require those that need equipment to first take our introductory session.
We have also been getting a lot of interest in learning how to SUP with a dog. So in September we are scheduling a training session with Maria Christina Schultz, author of How to SUP with your PUP. We are hoping to schedule an informal “Dog Paddle” at the end of the day!
What plans do you have for the future of Surf Reston?
One of the most exciting developments came about last year when I was lifeguarding via SUP for Reston’s Annual Lake Swim. There were several other lifeguards who played lacrosse and the conversation turned to that sport. I thought it would be fun to see if we might take some lacrosse sticks out on our boards, so the following week I just strapped one to my paddle and threw around a tennis ball. It was a blast.
I was telling my dad, Jack Gurney, who is a retired engineer, about this idea and some of the challenges I faced. He came back with a brilliant design, which we prototyped using 3D printers at Langston Hughes Middle School and Nova Labs. We have had several South Lakes High School lacrosse players play with the product and they love it. Now we hold a provisional patent, and we are working on production and sales of the product. It will be exciting to see where this is next season – perhaps Reston will be the home of a brand new sport that is internationally recognized!
Lake Anne resident Nancy Fiator was enthusiastic about her Surf Reston introductory session: “I just loved the paddleboarding experience. They made it seem as if it would be effortless to jump in on something I’d never done before. In fact, it was!”
Big thanks to Steve and his class of paddleboarders for inviting me to join them on a tour. It was clearly fun for everyone! If you would like to learn more about Surf Reston and SUP, visit www.surfreston.com.
Have you tried paddleboarding? What did you think of it? What other sports would you like to read about on Modern Reston?