MANCHESTER — Want to stand on water? There's a new store for that.

Manchester's Surfari Stand Up Paddle & Surf is keen on stand-up paddling (SUP), a activity many claim as the fastest growing water sport in the world.

Surfari opened its doors at 26B Central St. in late April and husband-and-wife owners Christian and Nicole Del Rosario have found Manchester to be a prime location for such a store.

The store provides surf gear such as sunglasses, waterproof watches, surf boards, bathing suits and wet suits to name a few item. The true buzz, however, is about the SUP boards, of which they have dozens of kinds. And not only does Surfari sell boards and paddles, they offer rentals and lessons as well. Group lessons are $30.

"The sport is exploding," said Nicole Del Rosario. "It's shocked me how many people have come in."

According to Del Rosario, SUP was originally an ancient Polynesian activity, but it's gained popularity in the United States over the past five to six years.

"It's really fun," said Jocelyn Knaus, a Surfari employee. "And it's so easy."

Transworld Business reports, "The average retail price (of SUP boards) dropped 26 percent this May from $1,187 to $878, while unit sales soared over 165 percent."

Stand-up paddling requires a board, similar to, but larger than a surf board, and one long paddle. Paddlers stand and can either ride waves in the ocean, race on rivers, or even cruise on lakes.

Surfari offers $20 "Tau Hana" (Hawaiian slag for "after work") SUP rentals at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to those who are experienced or have taken at least one lesson. And come July 8, the shop'll begin yoga on boards as well.

"Stand-up paddling is a great core workout," said Del Rosario. "And yoga will enhance it."

John O'Hara of Magnolia said, "It's a whole body workout, a one-stop shop from toes to ear lobes. No need for push ups or sit-ups, after two hours you're shot."

He should know; O'Hara was the first-place finisher of the Atlantic Paddle Association's 5-mile distance race off of Salisbury Beach on June 28.

O'Hara, a customer and friend of Surfari, started as a surfer but has changed his focus to SUP. "It's new to the general public of the nNortheast," said O'Hara. "On Cape Ann, I'd say this will be the first summer you'll see it all over the place."

O'Hara says it's something anyone can do, unlike surfing. And for non-surfers, "It's a whole new point of view," said O'Hara. "To see the ocean beneath you like that."

On July 23, The Blackburn Challenge, a 22-mile paddle race around Cape Ann, returns and is open to everyone with access to a "paddle craft," whether it be a kayak or a stand-up paddle board. The fee is now $78 per participant and registration ends Saturday, July 9, at midnight. O'Hara plans to register for the race.

Mike Brown, a Manchester resident and another experienced stand-up paddler, is considering The Blackburn Challenge as well.

Brown and his friend Bob Babcock launched a benefit race called the Cape Cod Bay Challenge (CCBC), a 30-mile race from Plymouth to Provincetown, three years ago. This year is the fourth annual race and the money raised will benefit Christopher's Haven, a nonprofit group that provides housing for the families of children udergoing cancer treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Brown makes sure to not only blow his popular conch horn at the start and end of the CCBC, but also as he passes Surfari in Manchester.

A good way to prepare for SUP this summer?

"By far, Surfari has the best selection," said O'Hara as he listed their SUP options: "Surf- and distance-related, race-related, recreational -related, and kids-related boards," all of the best quality, he said.

"Nicole and Christian are very knowledgeable about both the use and construction of their boards," said O'Hara.

Christian Del Rosario is currently running his surf camp in Nantucket, but said the couple chose the location because it's a good place on the water, perfect for the store.

For more information on Surfari Stand Up Paddle & Surf, visit standuppaddlesurfari.com or call the store at 978-704-9051.

Jesse Poole may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3447 or gt_reporter@gloucestertimes.com.

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