Sewickley couple stand up for their sport

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

It doesn't take the ocean waters of Hawaii, the West Coast or Florida to go surfing.

The Three Rivers and other nearby bodies of water are hot spots for what's said to be one of the fastest-growing sports in North America — stand-up paddle surfing.

Ty and Nancy Musser say they enjoy the sport, also referred to as stand-up paddleboarding.

“You stand on a big surfboard, basically,” Nancy Musser said. “It's so easy.”

With one leg attached to the board with a Velcro strap and leash, stand-up paddle boarders stand on a surfboard-like device while paddling through a body of water.

The Mussers have been doing stand-up paddle surfing for about four years.

About three years ago, the Sewickley couple started Stand Up Pittsburgh — an Ambridge-based business specializing in the sport, where they sell boards and host events.

They offer lessons from four locations around western Pennsylvania, including the Walnut Street Landing in Sewickley.

Part of the appeal for the Mussers was the ease of the sport.

“People can get to paddling on their own in five or 10 minutes,” Ty Musser said.

Participants need not worry about athleticism or skill, Nancy Musser said.

“When we started, I thought I'd never be able to do it because I'm not very athletic, I don't have balance, and I don't really like the water all that much,” she said.

“But I did like kayaking because you can look around; it's peaceful.

“But with standing up, you see so much more. Even if you're just out there for a leisurely paddle, you're still balancing on the board, you're still exercising.”

Alicia Hostnik and Brenda Nunemaker learned the basics of the sport last month in a lesson from the Walnut Street Landing.

Hostnik of East Palestine, Ohio, said her yoga instructor suggested she try it.

“She dragged me along, Hostnik's friend Nunemaker of Sewickley said.

After an on-shore talk about safety, the pair took off heading north toward Beaver County with Ty Musser helping the novices.

After about 40 minutes in the river, Ty Musser helped each wiggle their way from the water to the dock.

“I didn't fall in,” were Hostnik's first words when she reached the landing.

For Nunemaker, who said she stays active by running, stand-up paddle surfing was a good activity.

“It's wobbly when you first get on,” she said.

“I did feel it on my wrists. My legs hurt, too.”

Both said they were surprised they didn't end up in the water.

“I thought we'd end up getting wet,” Nunemaker said.

Hostnik agreed.

“I was surprised it was that easy.”

Both said they'd be back to try it again.

While the women were attempting their first go at the sport, Ty Musser said he gets on the water at least twice a week if weather permits, and did so last year for about 10 months.

“Mornings are real nice on the river because it's calm, and that's when there's the least amount of traffic.”

Stand-up paddleboarders, though, compete with recreational traffic, which has increased along the region's three rivers — sometimes making a leisurely jaunt more adventurous, Ty Musser said.

“Weekend afternoons are crazy with all of the boaters,” he said.

“With the way our summer has been with the rain, everyone's been trying to get out when they can and it's just crazy.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408

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