ON – THE – WATER

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Good, affordable fun

Paddle sports in Panama

By Ilene Little

Stand Up Paddle is everywhere in Panama.

Stand Up Paddle is everywhere in Panama.

Panama’s fitness advocates are venturing beyond walking, jogging and bicycling on boardwalks and out to the causeway waterscape where Stand Up Paddle Boards “SUP”s are the new trend, and personal outrigger canoes are next on the horizon.

The rapid growth of SUP and interest in outrigger canoes is rooted in Panama’s history of cayuco racing, unique to this country. Adding to the appeal is the affordability and portability of SUP equipment.

The local face of paddle sports

Huerbsch and his JRock crew are well known for their cayuco racing. They placed first in their class in the 2014 Ocean-to-Ocean Cayuco Race. Last year, Huerbsch began building cayucos commercially.

Armando Gundin is a professional master mariner, Canal tugboat captain, president of the Panama Outrigger Club and owner of Panama Unlimited Canoes, Inc. and Pro Paddle Fitness. He is said to own the only outrigger canoes in Panama. His shop is in Vera Cruz. “The outrigger gives a lot more stability than a cayuco,” said Gundin.

Panama’s changing waterscape

Armando Gundin on a one-seater outrigger canoe.

Armando Gundin on a one-seater outrigger canoe.

“I am promoting Panama as a destination for outrigger canoe races,” said Gundin.

According to him, the country is rife with beautiful backdrops for such a race, from Las Perlas and San Blas to Bocas and Portobello.

Where you now gaze upon the water and see the occasional “panga,” fishing boats, yachts and ships, you are beginning to see individuals of all ages on SUP’s and soon, you will see one and two-person outrigger canoes like you see in Tahiti and Hawaii.

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