To say that anything is fringe about paddling is sort of an understatement. Most paddlers are rather unique individuals. That’s one way to say it. The other way is to say most paddlers are the nerds who got picked on in high school. These same people were skaters, punk rockers, hippies and band geeks. If you’re a paddler just look around you, you’ll notice those people. Look in the mirror too…
We’ve observed and participated in several “fringe” paddlesports as of late and thought there was something noteworthy about the existence of these genres. Like it or not, these are the core of paddlesports. Odd as they may be, they are what drive the innovation and abstract thinking that brings about the introduction of new skills and technique, which are inevitably adopted by more mainstream paddlesports. These are also forums for the testing and development of paddling equipment. Seems like a good job for a bunch of Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebies, to quote a favorite 80’s movie.
The Squirt Boat – Squirt boating is a form of whitewater kayaking or canoeing where the boat is designed to be as low in volume as possible while still allowing the paddler to float. Squirt boats are designed to utilize both surface and underwater currents to manoeuvre within the water. These manoeuvres can be used to effect navigational control or to perform tricks.
Bellyaking – A bellyak is a boat designed to be ridden on your belly and enjoying being One With the Water.
The bellyak is the perfect blend between surfboard, riverboard, kayak, c1 and inner tube. It’s a great way to get into paddlesports without the steep learning curve made necessary by the equipment in kayaking such as the sprayskirt and paddle. River, lake or ocean, you can just kneel, sit or lie prone and take a relaxing float or get aggressive and run some rapids or surf waves.
O-C1 Freestyle – O-C1 means Open Canoe, for 1 person. O-C1 Freestyle is when a paddler performs tricks on a wave or hole in a small open canoe like the ones below. This is a rarely seen art form on the water, but impressive when you see someone who can make the boat dance. The boat can quickly fill with water which provides an added challenge for O-C1ers.
Surf Kayaking – This is a commonly misunderstood paddlesport given its equal influence from the whitewater paddlesport and board surfing sports. Is it surfing or is it kayaking? That may be determined by each user and each individual critic for themselves. See a couple different definitions of surf kayaking at World Surf Kayaking Association and Wikipedia.
Fall is always a welcome season for east coast surfing. East coasters near the Carolinas may choose to frequent Folly Beach SC and Wrightsville Beach NC for the closest, most consistent waves.
SUP Fishing – Standup Paddleboarding has perhaps eclipsed the genre of “fringe” at this point, but SUP Fishing still isn’t quite mainstream. Fishing is the best recreational use we’ve found for the Standup Paddleboard. NCKFA is a reliable source of information for fishing from a paddle craft. Distressed Mullet happens to be a great source of info and news about SUP, based in Wilmington NC.
The gear used to make this paddling safe and possible, and a list of the retailers who sell it:
Buy these gear items at the following Paddlesports Retailers.
Ace – Appomattox – Diamond Brand – Get:Outdoors – Great Outdoor Provision Co. – NOC – Potomac Paddlesports – Rock/Creek – Sea Kayak Carolina – USNWC – Valley Mill