When I first heard that SUP Polo had been run in a swimming pool at a Starboard SUP dealers meeting in Thailand, I was at one fascinated and excited.
An avid stand-up paddler, I had competed and tried most disciplines of the sport, some with greater success than others. Downwinding was something I love but am not that good at, but at least there’s something to do on a windy day, and with the right group, there’s a great camaraderie as you head out into the water. Racing had lost a bit of its shine for me personally as due to work and family priorities, not being able to put in the training to really reach my potential has relegated racing to the ‘compete to have fun’ basket, which runs counter to my competitive spirit. More recently the areas which I have found the most personal satisfaction and fun are adventure paddling and white-water paddling. Both of these have a teamwork focus, whether it be crossing the bay or negotiating a series of drops in the rapids.
Stand Up Paddle Polo totally fit into that ethos. So Paul ‘PT Woody’ Harrington and I pre-ordered a set of the specialised Starboard SUP Polo paddles, keen to try it out.
The paddles are weird, sort of a hybrid between a paddle and a lacrosse stick, and in fact the method of passing and shooting is very similar. You use either one of Starboard’s special SUP Polo balls or we have been training with a size 3 soccer ball. The goals are similar to water polo goals, and thus far we have made out own out of PVC piping, which seem to do the trick.
You use short inflatable boards ideally, and Starboard have purpose-made SUP Polo boards available. We are using a mix of the Starboard Astro Stream 9’6″ x 36″ white-water boards and Astro Whopper 10′ x 35″. The interesting thing about the Starboard Polo boards are that they have fins on each end – so you can paddle them in both directions. It will be interesting to see how they handle!
Here’s a video of hi lights from the recent World SUP Polo Games in Mexico to give you a taste of the action!
– Teeps Out.