Try the Exciting New Water Sport – StandUp Paddleboarding
San Diego is crazy for paddle sports, and Standup Paddleboarding or SUP is the latest local craze. Kayakers and surfers have combined the best of both sports to create a fun and energetic new way for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the water anywhere they go.
As the name implies, in SUP, you stand upright on a surfboard and use a paddle to power yourself around. Today, experienced SUP surfers are riding waves at virtually the same performance level as traditional surfers, while recreational enthusiasts are using them for leisurely tours of flatwater lakes and bays. There are open ocean SUP races, SUP yoga classes, even adventurous athletes who are using SUP boards to challenge whitewater rapids and make long-distance expeditions.
Part of the appeal of SUP is that it feels more natural to stand than lay prone on your belly, and that you spend more time high and dry and cover more ground. Fitness fanatics can get a great all-around workout. Paddling uses the arms and upper body, while the demands of balancing the board exercise the legs and core.
SUP equipment can be purchased and rented at surf shops and watersports facilities throughout San Diego’s beaches and bays. First timers can sign up for instructional sessions, but the sport is intuitive enough that many people choose to figure it out for themselves. A few basic pointers should get you up and riding in no time:
Start on your knees, holding the paddle in both hands, and standup in a smooth, even motion.
Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet slightly apart. Use small corrections of your hips and knees to keep your center of gravity directly over the board.
Momentum is your friend. It’s far easier to balance and maneuver when your board is moving through the water.
Learning to Standup Paddleboarding is a lot like learning to ride a bike: once you get the hang of it, you never forget.
Catch a California Spiny Lobster during the annual Lobster Season in San Diego. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
Lobster season opens on the Saturday prior to the first Wednesday in October and closes on the first Wednesday after March 15th, and is designed to protect the lobster population from overfishing during their summer reproductive cycle.
The California Spiny Lobster can live 50 years and grow up to 25 pounds. At a market value of 20 dollars a pound, even the typical two or three-pound specimen is a worthy catch. Unlike its East Coast counterpart, the Spiny Lobster doesn’t have claws, but it’s still a tricky business to catch one, especially when you consider that divers are only allowed to use their bare (gloved) hands. Nocturnal hunters, they hide deep in caves and crevices by day, so divers typically do their hunting at night as well, when the lobsters – or “bugs” – venture out into the open. And, on the eve of opening day, it’s traditional among San Diego divers to gather at favorite hunting grounds at midnight, when bug season officially begins. Dive clubs and shops hold organized events on opening weekend, with prizes awarded for the biggest catch.
Try a Night Dive during Lobster Season
Night diving is a surreal experience, focusing all your attention on the small area illuminated by the beam of your underwater flashlight. It’s not hard to spot lobsters, sideling across the bottom, and you’re likely to feel others bumping into you unseen. They’re not fast on their feet, but they can buck like a bronco when captured and jet backwards in a quick flip of the tail. The trick is to freeze them like a deer in the headlights, then quickly grab them from behind and wrangle them into your game bag. Lucky divers return home for a late night lobster feast, while non-diving spectators can enjoy the bounty of fresh lobster offered by local markets and restaurants this time of year.
What to Know about Lobster Season
In addition to knowing the dates of lobster season, there are a few other important rules and regulations to be aware of before trying your luck:
Residents and visitors alike (16 years and older) are required to have a valid California Sportfishing License
Lobster hunters of all ages must have a current Spiny Lobster Report Card
The minimum size limit is three-and-a-quarter inches measured from the eye socket to the rear of the body shell (divers carry a measuring device for this purpose)
The maximum bag limit per day is seven lobsters
Lobsters can only be caught by hand (not with nets, spears or other tackle)
It goes without saying that diving requires formal training, especially at night. Always go with a buddy, know your limits and dive safe. For more information check with California Fish and Wildlife or a local dive or fishing outfitter.