If you spend any amount of time at Stonington Harbor, eventually you will see someone skimming across the water—standing up.
Called Stand Up PaddleBoarding or SUP, the water sport has people standing on surf boards -- longer and wider than traditional boards, but still lightweight enough for one person to carry -- and moving across the surface of the water using long paddles.
Barely two months ago, the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club Sailing Foundation on Water Street purchased six new SUPs for their adventure sports program.
Mistral Dodson, an avid surfer, is the program director for the sailing foundation, created in 2004 to encourage appreciation of sailing and other water sports.
The stand-up paddleboard sport became part of the foundation's program after participants were making up a class from last fall's Surf Camp. There were no swells that day, Dodson explained, and they happened to have a paddleboard on hand so she took the kids paddle-boarding instead.
"We were looking at other ways to expand our program," she said. "The SUPs are so easy for the kids to use and can be rented out as well."
An additional motivation behind the purchase was that they are "a great way for tourists to explore the harbo," she said.
The SHYC holds an adult class for those who want some instruction, however, the sport is apparently easy to pick up.
First timer Meredith Cochrane, from Toronto, Canada, asked, "Do we just stand up and paddle?"
Hayward Gatch, an instructor at SHYC answered: "It really is that simple."
And five minutes later she was out on the water.
While the program is just getting started, Dodson said there's a lot of buzz.
"We've had a lot of interest, a lot of inquiries. A lot of rentals on the Fourth of July weekend. A lot of people are interested in purchasing one and come to try it out," she said.
Just up the street, summer residents Mlada and Dennis Neumann bought their boards in early June, about the same time that the SHYC purchased theirs. They got into the sport after her brother, who works in the water sports industry, came for a visit.
After telling the couple that the area was "perfect place for SUPs," he got them a deal on a couple of boards.
"You can pick it up pretty quickly," Mlada said.
"If you can paddle a straight line, you figure you are doing something right ... but getting your technique takes a little longer."
She has already made it a regular part of her day and when the weather cooperates, she goes out religiously for a spin around the harbor.
"It's like going for a walk," she said.
The couple has also ventured further out to Napatree in Westerly, for example and have gained an real appreciation for the sport and helps one "discover all the things you don't know about surfing."
After discovering that it's a great way to socialize out on the water, the Neumanns are looking forward to other people getting them. As Mlada Neumann explained, from the higher vantage point atop a board it is much easier to stop for a chat with someone on their boat.
"And you can kind of spy on what is going on in the harbor."
SUP's are available for hourly rentals at SHYC to any adventurous soul interested in trying them out. The only restrictions are you must be at least 10 years of age and life vests must be worn.