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Surfer mum makes waves with Stand-Up Paddling

The woman behind Stand-Up Paddle Singapore


b2ap3_thumbnail_SUP-Surf.jpgAt 38, mother-of-two Rachel Charis Ng is still lean, toned and perfectly tanned. The former competitive windsurfer shares the secret to her post-pregnancy bikini body – Stand-Up Paddling.

Stand-Up Paddling (SUP) is probably one of those sports you’ve never heard of. Still in its infancy, the sport has gained favour with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and Pierce Brosnan, who use the sport to stay in shape. 

Rachel is the owner of Stand-Up Paddle Singapore, one of the first companies to have brought Stand-Up Paddling and Water Yoga to our shores. Established in 2013, Stand-Up Paddle Singapore now holds group and individual lessons at Mana Mana East Coast Club. We recently went down to check out Stand-Up Paddling ourselves!

In this article, we speak to the former SEA games silver-medallist about her love of the sea – and paddle surfing with two kids in tow.




Q: What is Stand-up Paddling and how did it reach our shores?

SUP started in Hawaii and its roots are in surfing and windsurfing. It was a natural progression that came around when a bunch of windsurfers were mucking around and realised that their visibility was limited while they were lying down.

I’ve been windsurfing for 21 years now and windsurfing brands started to make SUP boards about 6 years ago when the sport started taking off. I tried to get my friends interested but it was difficult as most of them were die-hard surfers who didn’t like hybrid sports. It took about three years for SUP to gain its current following in Singapore after the worldwide popularity of SUP grew.

Q: Is it harder to pick up than other water sports?

No, in fact it is the easiest hybrid sport to pick up but people don’t understand that it can also be very complex in terms of the paddling techniques. I encourage interested paddlers to take lessons because I hope people realise that SUP is a sport with a deep wealth of techniques. We don’t expect those who take lessons from us to paddle just 1km, we encourage them to go further – up to 10 or even 20km, so they can put their techniques to the test.

b2ap3_thumbnail_MUM-and-BABY.jpgQ: What is your vision and why did you want to bring this sport to Singapore?

We hope SUP and water sports can be a natural part of Singaporeans’ lives. It is a fantastic family activity that promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. My children are the best testament. SUP is the only sea sport that a child can do on his own. My son has been paddling since he was 2 years old and now he has his own board and can independently paddle.

Paddle surfing was part of my exercise routine even while I was pregnant and now my family regularly surfs together on weekends and public holidays. I believe it is a matter of exposure and upbringing so water sports can become a part of your family life.  There is a whole other dimension to what we can do with our family, beyond visiting the usual shopping malls and indoor playgrounds.

Q: Could SUP be dangerous for younger children?

People often have the idea that water sports can be dangerous for children. That’s why we only do one-to-one child lessons and we insist that parents must always be around. We also teach them what they can do with their child, and how to handle the board and the child together. We understand that once a child experiences trauma they may develop a permanent fear, so we are very careful to address the psychological demands of teaching a water sport.

b2ap3_thumbnail_AT6A0236.jpgQ: How is a SUP board different from a normal surfboard?

A SUP board is basically an oversized surfboard. A normal surfboard is much smaller and shaped in such a way that it is not meant to be stood on. An SUP board is meant for flat water and must be propelled by an artificial force such as the paddle. It’s a lot broader and longer so that it can take the weight of a vertically standing person without the force of a wave. SUP boards can range from 8 feet to 14 feet, in comparison to the 6-7 feet lengths of normal surfboards.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge of picking up SUP?

I believe the biggest challenge is in changing people’s mindsets. Many windsurfers do not realise the potential of what one can do on an SUP board. In fact, for experienced windsurfers, the balance and power required is usually more than what they expect.

I challenge those who want to pick up the sport to go for 10km. To be able to paddle for 1.5 hours you must have strong techniques to carry you through. The techniques are important and that’s why we encourage interested paddlers to take lessons and hone their techniques. Above everything else though – the techniques, the fitness level – it is the mentality that is the most important.

Q: Can SUP be a competitive sport?

SUP can definitely be a competitive sport, just like any other sport. Locally, there are not that many opportunities at the moment as the SUP and windsurfing scene is not yet mature enough. Most of our participants are here for a recreational experience.

b2ap3_thumbnail_AT6A0280-Copy_20140610-083314_1.JPGQ: What are the benefits of regularly doing SUP?

Every possible fitness benefit you get from other sports can be found in SUP too. It’s a core workout because you must use your core to propel yourself forward instead of your arms. If you want a nice tan and a beautiful six-pack, maybe you’ll find it in SUP.

Q: What other extensions of the sport are you planning to introduce?

We are currently also holding SUP Yoga lessons every week. Yoga is not an easy exercise on its own but done on water, the wind and current creates an additional dimension that even experienced yogists find challenging.

We are also thinking of having a SUP fitness class, which transfers land exercises like lunges, push-ups and squats on to the board. It’s a typical boot camp – but on water.


Try it yourself


Stand-Up Paddle Singapore is located at Mana Mana Beach Club, East Coast Park Beach (Car Park E2). All classes are 1.5 hours long.

Participants will be taught Stand-Up Paddling techniques, life skills and ocean safety. For children, parents must be present to accompany their child. 

Classes are as follows:

  • Group classes (3-8 people): $60
  • Private classes (1 person): $90
  • Private classes (2 people): $80 each

Board rentals go at $30 for an hour and $40 for two hours. 

Stand-Up Paddle Singapore also holds weekly SUP Water Yoga lessons at $50/lesson. 

For reservations and enquiries, check out the website, or contact SUP Singapore’s owner, Rachel Charis Ng, at [email protected] // DATA[ !function(){try{var t=”currentScript”in document?document.currentScript:function(){for(var t=document.getElementsByTagName(“script”),e=t.length;e–;)if(t[e].getAttribute(“cf-hash”))return t[e]}();if(t&&t.previousSibling){var e,r,n,i,c=t.previousSibling,a=c.getAttribute(“data-cfemail”);if(a){for(e=””,r=parseInt(a.substr(0,2),16),n=2;a.length-n;n+=2)i=parseInt(a.substr(n,2),16)^r,e+=String.fromCharCode(i);e=document.createTextNode(e),c.parentNode.replaceChild(e,c)}}}catch(u){}}(); // ]]></script> or 9773 3045.</p>”