Photos by Project 908 and OHventures
Up until recently, I had no idea what paddleboarding was. I could probably make a few educated guesses based on the make-up of the compound word itself, but I still was not totally sure. But even without knowing exactly what it was, when someone asked me to go paddleboarding, I of course agreed. I mean, "YOLO," as the kids say these days.
Paddleboarding is also known as stand up paddle surfing or stand up paddleboarding. However, you don't actually have to stand up the whole time either, as you can opt to kneel or even lay down while doing it. This surface water sport consists of a surfboard-type device approximately 10-12 feet in length, typically made out of fiberglass or a similar material. As the name suggests, it also requires one to have an oar, or "paddle," to propel oneself on the water.
In Central Ohio, a company called Project 908 was started for all of your paddleboarding needs! OHventures had the opportunity to meet with the owner, Nate, to get private lessons and learn more about the company itself.
Project 908 offers rental packages and private lessons to those interested! There are many options that you can discuss to maximize your paddleboarding experience. Make sure you call or email the office a few days in advance to plan everything. Project 908 can deliver boards right to you in and around Columbus, or you can transport the boards yourself with the proper vehicles! The prices are extremely reasonable: $30 per board for 2 hours, $60 per board for 4 hours (half day), and $80 per board for a full day.
Some great ideas of where to take your paddleboards are: Alum Creek, the Griggs Reservoir, or the Scioto Mile downtown. Me and my friends Matt and Jessica, as well as my cousin Jake, opted for ultimate convenience and had the paddleboards delivered right to my home at the Runaway Bay Apartment Complex. The complex sits on a large quarry, so we could spend our 2 hours on a calm, peaceful, and nearby body of water.
Nate brought the boards to us at the quarry and we spared no time getting them in the water!! There were a few different boards that he brought to us, each one a bit more advanced than the other. My friends nominated me to go first, so I of course took the least risky of the boards so that I didn't embarrass myself! It was a large, flat blue paddleboard that we nicknamed the blue whale!
Getting going on the paddleboard was a bit tricky! You have to start in a kneeling position, bringing yourself to a standing position slowly yet deliberately so that you maintain your balance on the board. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and should straddle the middle of the board exactly so that you do not wobble.
Once you are all aligned, the tough part is steering with the oar. You place on hand on the top (which I didn't always do by mistake), and one lower on the handle. Like a canoe or rowboat, you must switch sides when paddling in order to go straight. If you want to turn right, you paddle on the left and if you want to turn left, you paddle on the right. Reversing is a bit more advanced, but essentially requires you to "back paddle" by turning the oar backwards.
I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and watched as the others hopped on their boards. We each took turns on the different boards so we could experience the different levels of difficulty. Some are more aerodynamic and require you to focus more on balancing in order to master it. Matt and I even switched boards in mid water, without getting wet, which was fun, yet pretty tricky!
I never fell into the water, but I admittedly played it pretty safe as well. Jake took a spill on one of the more difficult boards when taking a turn (he would probably advise you to think twice about paddleboarding when hungover). And Matt took a number of falls, but that was because he was attempting daredevil tricks such as handstands and headstands!
Nate told us that sometimes he takes folks out on the boards and they all have a yoga class in the middle of a lake. Because of this, he had both Jess and I try different yoga moves, such as the sun salutations and side planks. Let me tell you, if you think that yoga is hard enough in a studio, try doing it on top of a paddleboard! That extra element of balance really takes it up a few levels!! No matter what you do on the boards, be prepared for some sore feet, calves, and shoulders, as your muscles are working in overtime to get yourself moving on the water.
The water was perfect - like glass - on the day we paddleboarded with Project 908! It really could not have been a better experience. Nate was a fantastic teacher and was extremely easy to get along with. He was kind enough to take a number of photos for us (which you can see throughout this post). We also scored some awesome t-shirts to show off our accomplishment (available for purchase online). The best thing was that he allowed for my dog, Slider, to hop on the paddleboard for a few minutes at the very end (below)!!
Project 908 actually manufactures all of their paddleboards right here in the state's capital of Columbus, which allows for some customization. You can pick between different color options, as well as custom graphics. In addition you can purchase different packages along with your paddleboard to get exactly what you want out of your paddleboard experience. So if you rent a board and come to find that it's something you love, perhaps the next step is to consider buying one through Project 908!
No matter what you have in mind for you and a group of friends to scratch paddleboarding off of your Buckeye Bucket List, do not hesitate to go with Project 908. They will work with you to accommodate you in any way they can, and you will find that paddleboarding is the most fun you can have standing up!