Welcome to the newest craze in the water sports world. Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a relatively new sport that first began in the Hawaiian Islands. The best thing about SUP is that it can be done any body of water – waves are not required. So, lakes, rivers, inlets, harbors all make perfect playgrounds for SUP riding.
SUP on flat water is very easy to do and nearly everyone can enjoy this great sport. You need not be the strongest swimmer or possess a surfing background. Most people begin in calm water and then proceed to riding waves, if they choose. While others simply enjoy the beauty of paddling flat-water areas.
The health and fitness benefits for SUP are incredible. Since the growth of SUP, individuals have even developed exercise and yoga classes that are done on SUP boards. Enjoy this sport on your own or grab a group of friends and go on a group mission.
What gear will I need?
- Board - This is obviously an important piece of gear. Our experienced staff wants to help make sure that you get fit with the proper board to suit your needs.
- Paddle - Believe it or not, this is also a very important purchase. Get stuck with a heavy paddle and you’re going to wish that you’d made a better purchase. Carbon fiber and fiberglass construction paddles are excellent choices.
- PFD (personal floatation device) - Most areas require some sort of floatation device to be attached to your board/person. There are all sorts of neat options these days without having to lug around a big orange life jacket.
- Clothing - Improper dress can make or break your day. There is a significant amount of technology that has gone into proper clothing for water sports.
Carrying your board:
Most boards come equipped with a carrying handle. To locate this, find the top middle of the board and there will be a slot cut into the board for your fingers. Stand the board on its rail (side) and face the finger groove away from you. Standing beside the middle of the board, slide your fingers into the groove and then lift. Once you get the balance down, the weight of a SUP should not be problematic.
Standing on the board:
Most beginner boards are very stable. However, you may find it easier to begin learning how to stand on your board, by kneeling on it first. Find the center of the board by locating the carrying grooves. This is the point of the board with the most stability and balance. Center yourself over this area and begin on your knees, if required. You can paddle from this position to get started.
Once you’re comfortable, lay the paddle beside you on the board. Grab the sides of the board (rails) with both hands and use this anchor point to stand to your feet. Remain standing near the grooves in the center of the board for maximum stability. Bend down and grab your paddle. Another trick could be to have a friend hold your board, while you practice standing up on it.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder’s width apart from each other. Remember to stand over the carrying groove in the center of the board.
- Keep your toes pointing forward at all times.
- Do not stare down at your feet. For the most balance, keep your eyes fixed on something ahead of you.
- Be in athletic position with the ability to slightly bend your knees when required. Standing with stiff-legs is not a great idea.
- It is the most difficult to balance when standing still. As soon as you start to move forward, balance becomes much easier.
- A lot of people begin with the paddle facing in the wrong direction. With the paddle standing beside you, the blade should slant forward.
- Hold your top hand on the grip at the top of the paddle. The other hand should be placed about half way down the paddle shaft.
- When paddling on the right side of the board, the left hand should be on the top of the paddle. When paddling on the left side, the right hand should be high.
- Extend the paddle out in front of yourself and pull the blade back toward yourself by twisting your hips and pulling back with your top hand. By using your hips, you take advantage of muscles that are stronger than your arms alone.
- Stop the paddle stroke when the blade is directly beside you and extend the paddle forward to make another stroke.
- Take 3-5 strokes on one side, and then switch to the other side, to keep the board going in a straight line.
Turning the board:
- Sidestroke - Paddle continuously on one side until the nose of the board swings around. To turn right, paddle on the left side of the board. To turn left, paddle on the right side.
- Back paddle - To turn the board or go backwards, either drag the paddle on one side of the board or make paddle strokes from the back of the board toward yourself.
- It is a good idea to look over your shoulder before turning.
Other important information:
- Generally, SUP is a very safe sport but you should take care to maximize safety. Do not paddle around fast-moving powerboats or areas of high boat traffic.
- If you fall off your board, try to jump as far away from it as possible to avoid damaging your board and hurting yourself.
- Try to find calm water to learn on.
- When the wind is blowing over 5-6 knots, paddling may become unpleasant and difficult to balance.