Keep in mind. This is a how-to book. It is a reference guide. In many ways it's even like a drivers manual for SUP. It's beautifully organized and illustrated. The diagrams are very understandable. It is written at more of an advanced level, but it's visual, so you can figure it out. It is a massive volume of content, but in pieces, it's perfect. This is not a narrative story, so don't feel like you have to read it from page 1 to page 500. Consume it in chunks. I read it over a month and am still pissed I lent it to someone to check out.
The first 3 chapters address the history and origins of the sport. If you are the kind of person that needs to start on page 1 and are in the surf industry or haven't paddled anything prior to SUP, be forewarned. You should skip these chapters. They'll just piss you off. They suggest this sport has no roots, and will get blown over by the first hard wind. It also suggesting the only reason that some people SUP is to falsely capture their lifelong dream of being a "surfer" might be tough to swallow. I honestly still haven't wrapped my head around these chapters. He could be 100% right. I'm not sure yet.
Author's note: The sport certainly has roots. The issue is these roots are very much more ancient than that of the contemporary Hawaiian start point. We have to look back to Africa if we wish to debate the 'origins' of paddling while standing as a bio-mechanical act. This is covered in the book. With regards the reasons for at least some peoples attraction to the sport and the surfing industries use of its appeal to sell, I will leave this to academic and historian, Kristin Lawler.
That said, this book was written in good spirit, which is why I say skip these chapters and avoid getting pissed off like I did. When you read subsequent chapters, you can hear the teacher, feel the stoke and excitement about the gear and the techniques. The rest of the book is so cool, it makes up for for the off-tone, conceit at the beginning. Try not to be offended. Skip to the section that interests you. Except the surf industry—you're being spanked, so skip the whole thing. Seriously. Skip this book. It's not for you.
Despite staying at a number of Holiday Inn Expresses, I'm not an expert. I'm under the impression that paddling is something you practice and improve, but not something you completely master. Fortunately, I've had access to the experts. I've been able to ask them questions. This book is your resource for asking those questions. This is your speed dial to find out about whatever it is you want to know.
The section that I thought was particularly interesting was the one on paddle design and construction. If you want to understand blade design, flex, or shaft length, it's in there. And it's wonderful to find out why manufacturers do certain things like bent shafts, etc.
Another interesting section is on the injuries associated with Paddling. A lot of us have had that tennis elbow or the shoulder issues that come with poor technique. Talks about how those happened and why and how to avoid them and that's incredibly valuable.
If you get a skip right to a section I'd say definitely hit the downwind section. Catching bumps has to be the most fun thing in doing water and in those areas where it blows hard on the lakes and on the rivers and on the ocean and you're thinking this is a day that I need to be inside, it's the opposite get on the water get on the wave and do some ocean open circuit most open ocean surfing. Then travel to Maui and call Jeremy Riggs for a lesson.