What the Words “Paddle Board” Mean to Me

What the words paddle board mean to one man.

Written by the Co-Owner of Glide Paddlesports, Scott Knorp on how he discovered and fell in love with Standup Paddle Boarding in 2007.

“Paddle Board” is an interesting term.  On one hand, my paddle board is an inanimate object that I love to take out to my local lake every chance that I get.  On the other hand, when strangers ask what I like to do in my free time, without hesitation I tell them “I love to paddle board”. So essentially my favorite noun is also my favorite verb.   

My first exposure to a paddle board had an almost mythical quality to it.  I was with my wife and 3 young daughters on the beach at Santa Cruz when I saw the silhouette of a man who appeared to be walking on the surface of the ocean grow larger and larger as he got closer to shore. 

paddle board

Upon adjusting my eyes, I noticed the long paddle and became even more confused. I assumed that his paddle board was just a very large surfboard, but my brain still couldn’t comprehend how the paddle was linked to the board. 

Once he got about 20 yards offshore, I noticed that he was completely grey with a thick grey beard. He literally was the Old Man and the Sea incarnate.  As he picked up his paddle board and started walking the rest of the way in, an attractive bikinied young woman went running to greet him. 

My first thought was “how sweet that his daughter is so excited to see her dad”.  Then she planted a long, lingering kiss on the gentleman and my thoughts shifted to “well good on you old man!” and decided that I must immediately research this new paddle board phenomena that had unexpectedly entered my life.

 paddle board

My first opportunity to paddle board on a paddle board didn’t occur until the following year on a trip to Hawaii – the birthplace of the modern paddle board furor.

The paddle board I rented was 12 feet long and had been patched up multiple times.  I never imagined that a paddle board could be so heavy, which turned out to be because it had taken on so much water through the years that it weighed about 3 times its original weight which meant I had to rest about 5 times just carrying it across the beach to the water.   

The nice fellow at the rental shop gave me a quick paddle board tutorial and before I knew it, I was out on the ocean trying to paddle board for real! 

What the kind lad had neglected to tell me was that the heavy trade winds that day were going to make it very difficult for me to remain standing for long on the paddle board.  My wife and kids watched amusedly as I would stand for about 10 seconds before the paddle board sent me back into the warm Pacific Ocean. 

My young family was quite amused by the spectacle of me falling, climbing back on the board and standing only to be knocked again. I considered it a teachable moment in perseverance. 

The next day, I went to return the paddle board and learned from the person manning the shack that day that the protected lagoon that was nearby was where most people learned to paddle board.  So, I opted to keep the paddle board for another day and within 30 minutes, I became hooked for life!

my paddle board story

Once home, I started a quest to find a paddle board for myself.  The year was 2007 so paddle boards weren’t readily available in inland California, so I scoured the internet to find one.  

I found a used paddle board in Southern California that the owner was willing to ship to me.  As luck would have it, my office backed up to a river that was dammed and turned out to be an ideal spot to paddle board.  

It turned out that my used SUP must have been one of the first ever produced because it didn't even have a handle. Thankfully the internet came to my rescue again as I was able to order a "SUP Sling" for transporting it.

My employees at the telecom company which I co-owned at the time would watch with great mirth as I would trek over the rocks that separated our office from the lake with my paddle board in the sling over one shoulder.  The office was next to Lake Natoma in the Sacramento area which was Gold Country back in the 1800's.

Because of strip mining, both sides of the lake are surrounded by piles upon piles of river rocks that were not easy to traverse over.   Even with the rough hike in, that hour plus on the paddle board, gave me time to think about the day’s events and would almost always get my creative juices flowing.

stand up paddle board 

As I got more involved in the sport, I realized that my paddle board was extremely versatile.  I could paddle board surf, paddle board down rivers and even paddle board behind boat wakes.  There was truly no chance to get bored with my new sport/lifestyle.  Even my dogs love to get out on my paddle board with me!

After selling the telecom company, one of my former reps ran across one of the original Glide founders about to head down a river on a paddle board.  She was dumbstruck by the thought of the potential bodily harm from hurling down a rocky river in a standing position. 

When he explained that they had this amazing technology that made the SUPs ultra durable but they needed some help running the company, she immediately got them in touch with me. After their brief presentation, it was about 2 weeks before I was living the paddle board dream both personally and professionally. 

To this day, I still find "Paddle Board" to be a fascinating term. Whether I use it as a noun or a verb makes little difference, because the people who know me understand that it truly describes my passions.  Wait a minute, would that make paddle board and adjective as well?