Of late at White Rock Lake, you can spot something you might not be accustomed to seeing on a smooth-surfaced body of water: surfers. A group of stand up paddle boarders (SUP) — basically surfers with an oar — have been taking advantage of local waters.
Tyler Marshall, the man behind the paddle boarding events and the proprietor of DFW Surf, is one of the early SUP pioneers in north Texas.
“We’ve been doing this since 2007, so almost 10 years,” Marshall says.
Recently his paddle boarding crew started hosting meet-ups in conjunction with the Dallas Arboretum’s Cool Thursday Concert Series.
Marshall says it’s a chance to learn how to paddle, “but it’s free to the public, so everyone’s welcome.”
Initially Marshall had plans to hold larger events at the lake and charge admission, but the city never approved the idea.
Despite the prohibition of large and potentially profitable paddleboarding events, the small weekly meet-ups continue. Marshall says they are designed to be new-user friendly.
People just need to show up ready to get into the lake, Marshall says.
“A lot of people ask, ‘Hey, what do I wear?’ All you need is normal outdoor activity or swimsuit apparel,” Marshall says. “But there’s no swimming in White Rock so if you do fall in you have to get right back on the board. Everything else is taken care of. We have all the equipment and instructors and everything.”
All first timers are asked to show up early, at least 30 minutes, to learn the basics before getting on the water. A tour of the lake begins at 7 p.m. before returning around sunset at 8:30 p.m.
Marshall says getting people out on the water together — first timers or otherwise — is about creating a communal event. That goal is seeing some success in its early days: Each week about half of the attendees are new to SUP.
And SUP events in north Texas in general have been on the rise.
“There’s a huge Texas paddle racing series. There are going to be about 10 races in Texas this year,” Marshall says. “It’s getting a lot bigger. It’s grown from about 50 to 100 or 150 people racing, depending on the race.”
In addition to the meet-ups, Marshall and his crew teach beginner and intermediate classes, SUP yoga and surf classes.
For more information visit Marshall’s website, DFWsurf.com.