7 exciting water sports you haven’t tried
If you’re looking for fresh ways to fit in a workout, while enjoying Canada’s rivers, lakes and oceans this summer, get soaked with these challenging water sports
Also known as “paddle surfing,” this sport’s origins can be traced back to Polynesia and the surf kings of Hawaii. You stand on a long board and use a paddle to propel yourself across the surface of the water. Think it sounds tame? Watch a few racing videos and you might change your mind! This is a serious workout that will develop your strength, balance and endurance.
Unlike surfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP for short) can be done without waves, so enjoy it at the beach, on a river or on the lake at your cottage. Get the hang of it by taking lessons from a dive or surf shop, such as Surf Ontario, or companies like Paddle Surf Fit in Kamloops, B.C., and Ride the Wake near Ottawa. To learn more about the sport, visit Paddle Surf Canada.
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Wakeskating and wakesurfing
Enjoy waterskiing or wakeboarding? You’ll like the challenge of wakeskating. It also involves being towed behind a boat with a piece of gear under your feet-in this case, a wakeskate made of wood or fibreglass, but the difference is that wakeskates have no bindings, like a skateboard, and you wear water-draining wakeskating shoes. You can wakeskate with any type of boat or a winch. Once you develop a good sense of balance, you can learn tricks, such as spinning and flipping the wakeskate, even on flat water. Many water sports schools offer lessons – inquire in your area, and check out videos and resources from online communities like Wake2Wake.ca and Stoke City.
Wakesurfing is similar to surfing, but with thinner boards and lower speeds. You start with a tow from a boat (must be an inboard, to protect you from the propeller), then let go and ride its wake from five to 10 feet away. Takes lessons from Surf Kelowna in B.C., and learn more from Wake2Wake.ca and Wakesurfing Magazine.
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Also known as “kite boarding,” kite surfing is gaining popularity in Canada and around the world. Basically, you stand on a small board, and you’re attached to a large kite that resembles a mini parachute. The kite catches the wind, and you go shooting across the water, with or without waves, plus you can achieve dramatic air time. With practice, you can learn to do nifty tricks that are sure to wow onlookers at the beach.
It takes practice to manoeuvre the kite and enjoy the sport safely. Sign up for lessons with organizations such as Kiteboarding Canada in Edmonton, Kitesource in Calgary, and Strong Kiteboarding at Nitinaht Lake, B.C., and view videos from Kitesurfing Magazine.
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Surf kayaking and waveskiing
Both of these sports involve tackling the waves while sitting down inside a compact, maneuverable personal watercraft and wielding a paddle. The surf kayak has an open cockpit and the wave ski has a closed one. Both offer a major adrenaline rush and a killer workout.
Learn more about waveskiing from the Surfski.info and the United States Waveski Association. For surf kayaking, hook up with the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society or take lessons with Coast Mountain Expeditions, near Surge Narrows, B.C.
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Kayaks are faster, lighter and more agile than canoes, and there are special models designed for anglers: Fishing kayaks are usually sit-on-top style (more stable than the sit-inside kind), and have space for accessories like bait compartments, fish finders and rod holders. “The kayak provides a safe, economical means to get to where the fish are,” says Allen Bushnell, editor of Kayak Fishing Magazine. “In addition, it’s eco-friendly and quiet (which helps with spooky fish), and even if you don’t catch fish, you get a workout.”
To try kayak fishing, ask outfitters and wilderness tour operators about lessons and trips. For example, Undercurrents paddle sports shop in Calgary offers an introductory course. Bushnell recommends taking it slow and staying safe by always wearing your PFD. “Wear the proper clothes for immersion, have communication gear, and try to bring a buddy, like scuba divers do. Have fun!”
Photo credit: © iStockphoto/jjshaw14