More and more in Lowcountry waterways it’s not a greeting but a way of life. Stand up paddleboarding combines the appeal of surfing and kayaking into a healthy form of recreation as well as competition.
That was the draw for 14-year-old Brandon Foster of Meggett, who was looking for a break from team sports but had not lost his love of competition.
“It’s sort of like running, I think,” the Haut Gap Middle School student said. “I had surfed and kayaked. The first time I tried stand up paddleboarding, I was probably 11 or 12. It was amazing, a lot different than kayaking. You’re standing up. You’re not down in a kayak. So you see a lot more of the creeks and stuff.”
The venture into paddleboarding began when his father, Dean Foster, bought Brandon’s mother, Allison, a paddleboard as a Christmas gift. The Fosters live on a tidal creek and owned kayaks. Foster said that for the past year and a half every time he turned around, Brandon was dragging the paddleboard to the water. After middle school baseball season, Foster heard about the Patriot Challenge, a stand up paddleboard race on the Ashley River, and decided to register Brandon for the three-mile race.
“He won the men’s open, which is the under-50 age group. Three were some other paddleboarders over 50 who finished before he did, but I think overall he finished in the top five or six,” Dean Foster said.
“I thought I’d be terrible, but it turned out I did pretty good,” Brandon said. “It took almost 50 minutes. It’s basically like a running race. You have to pace yourself. It was on the Ashley, and that’s a big river, so you see a lot more current and a lot more wind than in the marshes.”
The Fosters discovered there are numerous events throughout the summer ranging from creek and river races to open-ocean events, and Foster plans to join Brandon in the competitions. Brandon thus far is self-taught, so his father is setting up lessons with instructor Seth Cantley.
Foster said paddleboards can be found in a range of prices, beginning at about $500 and climbing to well over $2,000 depending on the type of board a person is interested in. Paddles also are expensive, and personal flotation devices are required.
“Brandon won on a basic board with a basic paddle,” Foster said. “The next step is, do you invest in better equipment? He’s really perked up and is really into it. As a dad, that’s what you really want to see. You want to see your child happy and enthusiastic whatever the sport is.”