SUP THE MAG: Urban Paddling and MKC

SUP THE MAG: Urban Paddling and MKC

Meeting Of The Minds

The editor, Will Taylor of SUP THE MAG ( , writes in his forward of the Spring 2016 URBAN ISSUE  titled Urban Reprieve. “Cities make me feel like a child when I do go-whether it is New York, Bangkok or Rome – I wander around in a daze, my senses indulging in the constant stimulation, my neck craned skyward…”.  This reminded me of how I felt coming into NYC to work at my dads kayak shop on Union Square after I graduated from college life at the University of Colorado.  I would come home with him to the suburbs of New Jersey feeling dizzy from it all. In those days, the 1980’s, we often sold the famous Klepper Folding Kayaks to people who wanted to escape and find solace in the wilderness far from the city. NYC was not very paddle friendly at that time. However a few gritty city stalwarts, used their boats to explore all five boroughs and form clubs with dozens of people to do the same. They were the pioneers, setting the stage for a time when access and paddling opportunity was to come into its own as we entered the 21st century. They had the need to find “wilderness”  just blocks from where the lived with millions of others.


As Will goes on to say..”Cityscapes can be stirring , that’s certain. And thank goodness paddling exists because humans can only handle so much urban living”   I said, when interviewed about the founding of Manhattan Kayak Company (MKC) in 1995 , that the service we were providing was much better than Prozac prescriptions!  Fresh Air, Water, Exercise and Sunshine.

Warp Speed with a Green and Blue Lining

In twenty years that have passed, I have witnessed both the mind boggling growth of NYC’s skyline and the incredible increase of paddling opportunity. Growing from a handful of legal launch sites to over 40 within the 5 boroughs. From 1 boathouse to 5 in Manhattan alone. I have also seen the widespread proliferation of bicycles based on city mandates and Citibike.  Along the Hudson River Park Trusts Park, there is a  four mile bicycle greenway  from the Battery to 56th St.,and 4 boathouses you can visit along the way. Bicycle path extensions, north and south make for a glorious waterfront experience almost around the whole perimeter of Manhattan. Pedaling and Paddling  have never been better here.

THE SUP- A Great Urban Paddling Craft-

In 2009 , I saw it coming . I was by no means the first , but I believed that the Stand Up Paddleboard could add a new dimension to NYC Paddling and it did…for one , you were standing on it, giving a new view from a paddling craft , usually plied on ones butt.  A little bit of that that secret surfer came out in me and catching even a  3 foot wave on an SUP is awesome. Moreover, the Sup  quickly realized the that a high quality portable Sup that inflates in the less than 5 minutes, fits in a sturdy backpack, along with a 3 piece paddle and weighs less than 30 pounds could be an urban paddlers magic carpet ride. There are now many quality inflatable SUPs made by BIC, RED, C4, Naish, Mistral, and others. Their performance is good to excellent. Some even prefer the slight flex under their feet. I am always amazed how quiet they are.

The Big Reveal-SUP’S are far more capable than I thought

Manhattan Kayak Company’s very own dynamic duo, Julieta Gismondi and Louanne Harris (aka-Atlantic Super Girls) just completed a 1400 mile, self contained, self supported (they brought their camping ,cooking, and multi-season clothing with them) expedition from NYC to Miami – more info here.

This journey, as well as many other long distance journeys by Sup’s has proven they can enable expeditions and adventures that canoes and sea kayaks can. In addition, they facilitate platform activities such as swimming, fishing, boot camps and yoga. In addition, Sup’s are as happy on a large pond as they are rivers (including whitewater)’lakes, bays ant the ocean. You do not need as much water to have fun. Finally, with modern advances in wetsuits,dry suits, booties and gloves, Stand Up Paddleboarding can be  all-season activity quite easily. I recommend that everyone who likes the water should try SUP. I believe this is especially true for paddlers from other disciplines. It’s a great compliment to seated position paddling and important for overall health, posture ,balance, and fun.

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