Always wanted to learn to surf, but find yourself landlocked? Why not try the ancient, flat-water version of the surfboard? Paddleboarding is becoming more and more popular in mainland U.S. as both a sport and leisure activity.

Back in ancient times, the Hawaiian kings would ride olo surfboards. These very long, thick, narrow boards were finless, and usually built from wiliwili wood: a low-density wood from a flowering tree in the pea family, native to Hawaii. Olo would range in length from 12-17 feet long (and thought to have reached lengths of up to 25 feet), and were made approximately 16-17 inches wide.

In the 1920s, a man by the name of Thomas Edward Blake created what was thought to be the first modern paddleboard. While restoring Hawaiian boards in 1926 for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Blake built a replica of an olo board, lightening it by drilling it full of holes, and covering the board, essentially creating the hollow board. Much lighter than its counterparts, this new board design led Blake to win numerous  races, and his hollow-board design became the standard. Blake refined and modified his boards, lightening to only 60 pounds, and he promoted the new board design as a lifeguard rescue tool.

In the early 1980s, journalist Craig Lockwood began producing a high-quality stock paddleboard after watching a 22-miile paddleboard race. Even then, the sport would experience another ebb before it again became popular in the mid 1990s, again in Hawaii. From there it moved around the country’s perimeters as an ocean sport, and then gradually moved inward to lakes and calm waterways, including our own Broken Bow Lake.

Today, standard paddleboards come in 12-foot stock, 14-foot, and “unlimited” board lengths (often 17 to over 20 feet) for speed. They can be used in a prone position using arms to propel the board, a kneeling position using a paddle to propel, and a standing position using a paddle to propel.

If you want to rent a paddleboard for use, or even learn to paddleboard, paddleSUP! at Broken Bow Lake is the only outfitter that currently offers paddleboard rental and instruction, and they do a great job of outfitting their guests. Paddleboard instruction includes board/paddle use and a basic skill progression including prone paddling, to knee paddling, to stand-up paddling. You’ll also learn the basic turn method, and the appropriate way to “fall” from the board (and yes, there is an appropriate way).

So come to Broken Bow for a Beaver’s Bend Creative Escapes cabin vacation, and spend some time floating on the waters of Broken Bow Lake while learning a new skill (or perfecting your methods). We have the perfect cabin waiting for you!