By Samantha Cook; photographs courtesy O'Neill Sea Paddle NYC
“Every day is paradise,” said stand-up paddleboard athlete Annabel Anderson as she looked out into the water from Pier 40 on the west side of Manhattan. Anderson quit a stressful corporate job to dedicate herself to stand-up paddle boarding, and its obvious that she has no regrets.
Last Friday at 6:45 a.m. Anderson, along with over 200 other enthusiasts, was preparing to participate in the fifth annual O’ Neill Sea Paddle NYC, a 26.5 stand-up paddleboard race around Manhattan. The race benefits Surfer’s Environmental Alliance and autism charities.
Unlike surfing, stand-up paddle boarding can be done in any body of water. It’s also much easier to learn. As a result, the sport has become increasingly popular. This year’s race had its greatest number of participants, about 20 percent more than last year.
“Stand-up paddle boarding is the fastest growing sport right now,” said Andrew Mencinsky of Surfers' Environmental Alliance. “We have participants who are coming from Chicago—where there is no ocean— Tennessee, Utah. There’s paddle boarding going on almost anywhere there’s a lake, pond or river.”