The best analogy I’ve heard is that stand up paddle boards are like bicycles, but for the water… and they just arrived late to the party… like after the unicycle, the penny-farthing, those goofy sit/lay down bicycles, tandem bikes, etc. And plain old bicycles are pretty popular last I heard. More importantly, they’re multi-purpose (exercising, commuting, beach cruising, road racing, trail riding, BMX, distance trekking, etc.). But the idea of that is pretty hard to wrap your head around that they didn’t take off first, so I think it’s natural that a lot of water sports are trying to define it as an extension of their sport, not out of a centric viewpoint, but rather it just sort of fits.
Humor me for a moment. Consider kayaks are like those rather rare and seemingly uncomfortable goofy sit/lay down bicycles that dodge in and out of traffic with flags on them. And surfboards are like those daring and impossibly difficult unicycles… yet unicycling is widely accepted as the definition of cool in this “regular bicycles invented last world”. Canoes are like the tandem bikes. Knee on top paddle boards would of course be the penny-farthings… close, but something is off. Pure exercising sans accompanying vehicle (i.e. swimming) is like running.
Then suddenly some of the “hippest and coolest” unicyclists have the epiphany to add a second wheel to their regular old bikes and whammo the regular old bicycle gets invented seemingly out of the blue. Everyone that sees it does a double-take. Everyone that jumps on one looks around at the poor substitutes all around them and thinks, duh, “winning!”
The regular bicycle craze begins and rapidly evolves in many directions simultaneously. Some are for beach cruising (read flat water SUPing). Some are extreme BMX and tricks (read paddle surfing). Some are for road racing (read SUP racing). Some are for all-terrain mountain biking (read all purpose SUPs). Some are for insane downhill terrain (read inflatable river SUPs). Some, or all really, can also be used for exercise and biking is definitely cooler than walking (read swimming). People start throwing them on the back of their car (read boat) for playing on wherever they drive to. Kids love them and pick it up really easy. Families can do it together. You can even throw a small child on the back of one.
It’s a phenomenon. Someone just invented a bicycle for the water. Welcome to SUP!
Tower Paddle Boards