GULFPORT, Miss.—Stand-up paddleboarding is said to be one of the fastest-growing water sports in the country. South Mississippi is seeing interest surge.
Dan Wittmann, owner of Wut SUP Standup Paddleboards & Rentals in Gulfport, has seen the increased popularity of the sport on the Gulf Coast.
“I’d say business has doubled every year since I’ve opened (in 2011),” he said. “It’s definitely climbing every year. I’ve probably taught 20 new people how to paddleboard this year.”
Wittmann said some newcomers have become addicted to the sport.
“Some people fall in love with it and that’s all they can think about is getting back on the water and paddling again.”
The sport is low-impact and Wittmann said anyone at any age can learn to do it within just a few hours of being on the water.
Long Beach resident Dawn Montano began paddling three years ago and she is hooked.
“It’s a fun way to get exercise and you don’t realize you’re exercising,” she said. “You’re literally walking on water.”
There are different types of paddleboards for different activities, including beginner boards and fishing and racing boards.
Wittmann said stand-up paddleboarding is an ideal sport to learn on the Coast. It can be done on lakes, ponds, bays or the Mississippi Sound.
“It fulfills their sense of adventure and gets people out on the water,” he said.
Gulfport paddler Connie Allen said the sport is a core workout and it’s all about balance. The board options give paddlers choices of exercise.
“You can make it as challenging as you want it to be,” Allen said. “Who doesn’t like being on the water?”
Michael Pornovets, owner of Everything Kayak in Ocean Springs, said he’s seen a gradual increase in paddleboards rented and sold at his shop.
“It’s slowly getting there,” he said. “Paddle sports in general are popular.”
Paddleboard racing has gained in popularity. The Dock Bar and Grill, where Wittmann’s retail store is, hosted the first Paddle at the Dock in April and 98 paddlers registered for the race. Wittmann said they had only prepared for 50.
On Sept. 7, Mississippi Gulf Coast Paddle Co. will host Paddle on the Bay at the Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis. Organizer Ashley Chrisman said all proceeds from registration will be donated to the Ochsner Medical Center neonatal intensive-care unit.