Just when it seemed like everything had been invented, along came the stand up paddleboard, or SUP.
The idea isn't new exactly; longboard surfers in Hawaii started using paddles as a way to catch more waves back in the early 1960s. But it wasn't until recently that the trend has caught on for other uses. People are now using boards on still lakes and raging rivers, for speed and distance races, and for long open water journeys.
It's the potential for whitewater and natural standing waves that first caught the interest of Dominic Morin, who is building boards in his workshop in Pemberton.
"That's what's exciting for me, to see how far the people around here are going to push the sport," said Morin. "People are doing rivers and they're doing drops and things, and it's just getting started. The best athletes in the world live here and it's going to be amazing to see what they can do with it."
Morin has made and sold more than 40 custom surfboards but he had never head of SUPs until a woman in her 50s came into his shop to ask him if he could make her one.
"She asked me if I could make a stand up paddleboard," Morin recalls. "I asked her, 'What's a stand up paddleboard?' I had no clue. It took me all last summer to make a demo."
In the past year he's made around a dozen boards, and is confident enough to offer his boards to the public under the Wizard Board Design logo. While there are a lot of companies making boards, Morin says he offers a lot of customization in terms of shape, design and graphics. He also has the ability to patch up damaged boards.
He's partnered with a local Pemberton paddle maker and says he hopes to be able to make packages (boards and paddles) by next spring.
Morin himself has gotten into the sport in a big way, recently tackling the Birken River with some friends. To make things interesting the boarders will spin on water features, jump onto logs and back onto their boards and look for standing waves that they can surf.
"I really love to surf, it's one of my favourite things to do, but this is my new obsession," said Morin. "It has a lot of the things I like about surfing, but it's totally different, too."
Morin came to B.C. with his girlfriend, a competitive snowboarder, several years ago. He got a job making boards for Option, making snowboards on the side once he had figured out the process.
It didn't take long to move up to Pemberton, where Morin got a job with Prior Snowboards. Chris Prior, the owner and lead designer for Prior, got his start making windsurfers. Morin says he's gotten a lot of good advice on shaping SUPs and handling the technical requirements of building boards.
While the company will be launched more formally next year, Morin invites people to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about Wizard.
Morin is not the only SUP maker in Pemberton, either. Andy Lambrecht has a side-business building wood longboards and recently got into the business of making SUPs. He currently makes and sells about half a dozen boards a year that retail for $2,000 and up - not something you might take down a rocky river, but good for lakes and playing on the ocean.
Recently Lambrecht's work was featured by Norm Hann, a professional SUP guide who paddled the coast of B.C. to draw attention to a proposed oil pipeline from Alberta that would bring ships to the coast near the Great Bear Rainforest.
Lambrecht's creations can be found at www.lambrechtsurfboards.com.
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