A Wilton Manors resident joins the ranks of competitive paddleboarding
Just about every day of the week, you’ll find Josh Smart on one Fort Lauderdale body of water or another. Sometimes he speeds along the calm Middle River or, for a bigger challenge, he’ll go up against the waves in Port Everglades. Smart recently finished a challenge on social media where he competed against other paddle enthusiasts to log 500 miles in 100 days.
The Wilton Manors resident isn’t just passionate about the watersport most view as a leisure activity—he’s a professional. Smart is part of a worldwide paddleboard team, sponsored competitively by NSP-Surftech, which includes teammates from Australia and France who are ranked in the top five in the world.
That people are taking stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP, so seriously should come as no surprise. Last year, The Outdoor Foundation released a report that estimated that 2.8 million Americans, almost 1 percent of the population, were active SUP participants—a 30.5 percent increase over a three-year period.
For Smart, a fitness director at Lauderdale Yacht Club, the passion started with an invite from a club member. “He was a fit guy; he told me that since he started SUP he hadn’t been going to the gym that much,” Smart says. The club member was into competitive paddleboard racing. “I got hooked the first time I [did the] racing style. This isn’t the slow stroke kind of paddling.”
Smart offers some additional insights into the sport that has changed his life.
WHY HE DOES IT: Smart, originally from Salt Lake City, found that paddleboarding encompassed everything he needed to keep in top shape. “It’s the best all-around body exercise that you can get. It’s a great back and leg workout,” he says. Smart does 7-mile paddles at least four times a week; he logs shorter, 3-mile workouts on two other days.
WHERE HE DOES IT: The water into which Smart drops his paddleboard depends on the kind of workout he wants that day. For smooth, fast cardio training, he’ll careen down the Middle River, just 10 feet from his house. For race training, it’s the Intracoastal Waterway or Port Everglades. “Port Everglades is like a washing machine. The water has been bouncing off the sea walls, and it’s coming from all different directions.”
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS: Start in calm water. “New paddleboarders aren’t ready for the ocean water that’s moving underneath,” he says. Also, do balance training off the board, in a gym. “It will correlate in the water.”