Saskatchewan·In Your Shoes

Learning SUP on Wascana Lake: Standup paddleboarding offers a different way to get out on the water

Unless you are kayaking or canoeing, you might not have the opportunity to spend time on Regina's Wascana Lake. But standup paddleboarding, or SUP, offers an alternative.

From paddling across the lake to trying out yoga poses, SUP offers new challenges

CBC writer Alex Soloducha, centre, trying standup paddleboarding for the first time on Wascana Lake in Regina. (Queen City SUP)

Unless you are kayaking or canoeing, you might not have the opportunity to spend time on Regina's Wascana Lake.

Swimming isn't encouraged in the man-made lake, but standup paddleboarding, or SUP, gives you the chance to get out on the water in a different way.

I spent one of the first hot days of the year in Saskatchewan learning the sport, which I have to say is not much easier than it looks.

Kristal McBain and her husband, Chris Bailey — who established their company, Queen City SUP, five years ago — start you on land by getting you a personal flotation device and sizing your paddle to your height.

You learn basic turn techniques and safety (like how to stop) before you leave dry land.

Before heading out on the water, paddleboarders learn the basics of how to turn and how to stop. (Queen City SUP)

Once you are ready to get on the board, you start out paddling on your knees. When you gain enough confidence and speed, you can try to stand.

In my experience, success in that comes from believing in yourself and getting up in one swift motion. You have to look ahead instead of down at your feet, or else you could end up in the water. Don't let the water know you fear it!

Bailey said it's not super common to fall in, but it does happen.

For the most part, people are able to stand up in their first session, and it gets easier and easier.

McBain said after trying out the sport twice, she was hooked.

Queen City SUP offers private and group classes, as well as board rentals. (Queen City SUP)

That winter, the couple was on a road trip to Edmonton and McBain said they spent the drive planning out their business.

"It was something that we really loved to do and it really … wasn't available in the city," she said.

They both got certified as instructors that spring through Paddle Canada. McBain, a trained yoga teacher, travelled to Kelowna, B.C., to earn SUP yoga certification.

Queen City SUP started with six inflatable boards. Now, they have about six boards at their rental hut at Katepwa Lake, northeast of Regina, and about 15 boards in the city, including ones intended for touring, racing and yoga.

A range of SUP activities

The wider yoga boards make it difficult to travel in a straight line but easier to find balance. That's the type I used. The race boards, on the other hand, are for those who have no trouble staying up but want to go fast — like the couple's seven-year-old son, for example.

McBain and Bailey offer 60-minute learn-to-SUP lessons once a week, covering safety, proper paddle technique and how to stand up on the board.

Kristal McBain teaches SUP yoga classes on Wascana Lake. (Queen City SUP)

If you have some experience, you can join in on "SUP and a Cup" — their Saturday morning paddle on Wascana Lake that includes coffee, if you bring your own reusable mug. They also host evening paddles and various workshops.

McBain took me through a couple of yoga flows on the board after we paddled around the lake. It was a great way to bring the energy levels back down and make peace with the board, which had me tensed up for over an hour.

It may look like it would be impossible to do a downward dog on a board, but it's definitely not. If I could do it, you probably could too.
CBC reporter Alex Soloducha and Kristal McBain doing SUP yoga. (CBC News/Samanda Brace)

McBain runs SUP yoga classes on the water throughout the summer and Bailey takes the intensity to the next level with paddle fitness, for those who want to do squats, planks and crunches while balancing on the board.

Although their business is seasonal, McBain said they are content staying on the Prairies.
There are also SUP fitness classes that include squatting and crunches on the board. (Queen City SUP)

"We love bringing paddleboarding to Wascana Lake. You get on, you get to the middle of the lake and you get it. You get why we do it," she said. "It's something fun and different.

"Our summers are short but they're beautiful, so to get out on the water is a good way to experience the summer."

CBC Saskatchewan's weekend team is heading out of the newsroom (and their comfort zones) this summer for our In Your Shoes series. Reporters will be trying a range of activities in Saskatchewan and reporting back. They will be taking nominations and suggestions from readers, so let us know what you want to read about next. Email Alex Soloducha or Janani Whitfield with your ideas!

About the Author

Alex Soloducha is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan.