Last summer, Joseph came into Windward and picked up the Naish Mana Air Inflatable SUP for his Chicago SUP adventures. We thought it would be fun to catch up with him and see what he thinks of his board 9 months later. Joseph is originally from California and has surfing roots and was looking for a way to connect with the lake. We think this Naish board is just what he needed – let’s see if we were right.

Tell us a little bit about how you got into SUP.

I actually vowed I would never get into SUP, believe it or not! There was a bit of a goodhearted rivalry between board surfers and paddle surfers where I used to surf in Los Angeles. But when I moved to Chicago and wanted to surf the lake, I wanted to get something that would be able to catch waves no matter how small the surf was. I also took into account that Chicago only really gets good swell when there are storms and low pressure systems producing a lot of wind, so I wanted to be able to have fun and exercise on all of those days when the lake was acting like…a lake.

We understand you have a background in surfing. In your opinion, how do the two sports compare to each other?

Well, when I’m paddle surfing, I am, in fact, surfing, haha! So they are very much the same. Although I’m paddling with a paddle, on my knees (if you’re surfing on a paddle board–especially on a tumultuous, stormy lake–it’s much easier to catch waves on your knees and then pop up) instead of paddling with my arms while lying on my stomach. 

Although, once you’re standing up and riding a wave while paddle surfing, you have to get the hang of using your paddle to keep your board in trim, otherwise you just kinda get the board tumbled out from under you. 

But overall, the experience of paddle surfing is right there alongside board surfing. You hang out there in the lineup and wait for waves, you look out at the horizon, you get in touch with the rhythm of the swell—all of that. 

Paddling on a flat lake just as an activity in itself is pretty different, though. I’d say it’s closer to something like kayaking. Perhaps a bit more meditative, though, because of the whole balance thing. 

Paddling also works different muscles: I get a really good core workout paddling, and when it’s rough out there—or when you paddle on your knees for surfing—you get a serious leg workout keeping the board stable with your quad muscles. The next day it feels like you did half-squats for three straight hours. 

Board surfing tends to only work your back, shoulders and abs because board surfing actually involves paddling on your stomach 95% of the time. Standing up riding waves is obviously the well-publicized, fun part, but catching waves is all about shoulder strength. So SUP’ing is more of a full-body workout, I’d say. 

What’s your favorite spot in the Chicago SUP scene?

Two blocks from my apartment in beautiful Rogers Park. I also go up to a secret spot in Waukegan when the surf is really good. 

What tips would you give to someone looking to get into the sport? 

Give the inflatables a try! They might seem like toys, but they’re not. People who see my board at the beach don’t believe it’s inflatable at first. It’s very rigid and if you pump it up to full pressure, it doesn’t really flex at all when you stand on it. Living in a Chicago studio apartment, the inflatable is really the only way I’m able to have a SUP. 

Also, never underestimate the power of a wetsuit. They cost a few hundred, but once you pay that money you can surf year-round in complete comfort. Trust me: I’m a Californian! I wouldn’t be out there on the lake in December if I was freezing. I might look like a deep sea diver in my 5/4/3 suit with 7mm boots and gloves, but it feels oh so nice.  

You are obviously someone who likes to be active. What other fun things do you like to do to stay in shape?

Like I said I’m a cyclist. I ride a track bike to commute to work, so that lets me get about six miles in every day. I also live on the sixth floor of my building, so when I’m feeling courageous I take the stairs 🙂

A big Thank you to Joseph for taking the time to give us an update on his board purchase. For more information about how awesome inflatable SUP boards are, check out this sweet article. 



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