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Stand-up Paddlesurfing - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Stand-up Paddlesurfing

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Burlington, Vermont - July 9, 2009

Lake Champlain is 5,000 miles away from Hawaii, but it seems a heck of a lot closer on evenings like this one.

Surfing has finally made its way to Vermont-- but it's not the kind of surfing you might be used to.

"A cross between kayaking, canoeing, and surfing," Jason Starr explained.

It's called paddlesurfing. The sport originated in Hawaii three years ago and was a way for surfing instructors to better manage their students, providing them a higher vantage point over the water. It has since migrated across the country and has come into its own on lakes, ponds, and even rivers.

"It's a new sight for people to see people upright, that far out on the water," said Starr, of Paddlesurf Champlain.

In fact, at first glance, it almost looks like you're witnessing a miracle of biblical proportions.

"The boards are so thin that it almost just looks like the people are standing on water when they're really far out," Lindsay Lach observed.

Starr helped introduce the sport to Vermont. He now rents out boards and teaches paddlesurfing lessons several nights a week.

Unlike actual surfing, it requires calm water. Most get the hang of this sport fairly quickly.

"It's easier than I thought it was going to be, definitely," said Brian Sanders of Burlington.

With a few exceptions.

"I thought it was going to be easier than that, but it was actually kind of tricky," said Bryan Hsiang of Essex Junction.

Carrying the board correctly seemed to be MY biggest challenge.

Actually learning how to paddlesurf is similar to learning how to ride a bike; once you're up it's a piece of cake.

Experienced paddlesurfers can move across the lake at speeds faster than a canoe or kayak, in some cases covering distances of up to 30 miles a trip.

Long distance races are common in other states.

"It's very maneuverable," Starr explained. "So it's an easy way to explore the different nooks and crannies we have, different coastlines, the marinas."

"Not much to it, just relaxing, being out on the lake, for sure," Sanders said.

And while actually walking on water would be pretty darn impressive, paddlesurfing may even top that feat. With this sport you don't even have to pick up your legs.

It's a sport turning heads as we begin a new hundred years on Lake Champlain.

If you'd like to try paddlesurfing Jason Starr will be out at North Beach all day Saturday offering lessons.

Click here for more information on lessons, boards, and guided paddlesurfing trips on the lake.

Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

Click here to see more Destination Recreation stories.

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