If you’re looking for a new watersport, why not give Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) a try? It’s easy to get started, is suitable for all ages and you can take it at your own pace. Paddleboarding can be great for both exercise and wellbeing – it’s a lot of fun and is an awesome way to spend time on the water.
What is Stand Up Paddleboarding?
Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Using a very large board similar to a surfboard and a single blade paddle you can paddle your way along coastlines, rivers and lakes. For those more experienced on a SUP, you can also surf waves on them. You can paddle on your knees or up on your feet when you’ve had some practice and got your balance.
Types of SUP
There are two main types of SUP – solid paddleboards and inflatable paddleboards. Solid paddleboards are more expensive and are often more performance-based, as they are more streamlined in their design. Inflatable boards gain their rigidity when they are inflated. They have become incredibly popular as they are usually more cost-effective for a recreational user, and are easily stored and transported all in one bag.
Different brands of inflatable paddleboards will suit different users and budgets – more expensive versions are double-lined making the board stronger and you will get more out of your paddle stroke without the board flexing. Bigger boards are more buoyant, so some adults find that it’s worth investing in a slightly longer inflatable paddleboard. Whatever inflatable board you have, always remember to pump up your board to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. If you would like to try SUP without committing to buying a board, there are lots of rental options out there, with many beaches and lakes having the option to hire a board. They’ll be able to advise you on the right size and good technique so you can have a go to see if you want to invest in your own paddleboard.
There are 3 main SUP categories:-
All-Round – These boards are thick and wide, providing good stability and are suitable for most people. They are great for SUP beginners with their wide nose and board tail, as they are designed to make it as easy as possible for you to enjoyably stay afloat. All-round boards tend to be between 32” – 35” wide and 4” – 6” thick. Some have the option to add a windsurf rig or a seat so you can enjoy your SUP powered by the wind or whilst sitting down.
Touring – These paddleboards are suitable for flatwater, open sea paddling and downwinders (going from A to B with the wind at your back). They are longer than all-round boards often with a nose that is pointed to help the board glide through the water smoothly, which helps to increase glide and keep the board straight. Most touring boards are still wide enough for beginners – sizes vary from 11 – 14 ft in length and 28” – 34” wide. The longer, narrower paddleboard is more efficient for slicing through the water, but you will sacrifice some stability.
Race – These boards are designed for speed and comfort; stability is pushed aside for the performance. They are a similar shape to a touring board, long with pointed noses, but they differ in their width as they’re more narrow at 27” – 28” and they tend to be 12.6 or 14 ft long as a standard race board size.
How to get the right size paddleboard
There are a few ways to size up your SUP which will vary from person to person and the type of stand up paddleboardng you would like to do.
Your paddleboard length should be customised to:
- How tall you are
- Your arm length
- Your paddleboards height above the water (differing with solid or inflatable)
- The type of paddleboarding you plan on doing (recreationally, touring, surfing or racing)
As a SUP beginner we recommend starting with a 30” wide board that’s about 11ft long, it’s best to start off in calm, flat water with a nice wide board – the board should feel comfortable and not unstable when standing up. If it feels too unstable after a few attempts to gain your balance, try a larger, wider paddleboard. As you get more confident you will work out what style of paddleboard you want to move onto or are more suited towards.
What do I need for stand up paddleboarding?
Once you have chosen your paddleboard you’ll need the right gear to go with it. It’s best to wear a wetsuit or swimsuit (depending on weather), there is also specific SUP clothing and of course a lifejacket. Maybe take a towel (if you think you’ll end up in the water) and it’s always a good idea to have a drink bottle with you – paddling can be tiring work!
You’ll need a waterproof bag to take your belongings out on the water with you, our 7L Heavyweight Waterproof Drybag with Shoulder Strap is the perfect size waterproof bag to take out on the water. If you’d prefer something to just carry your valuables, our Waterproof Paddle Case is big enough to fit everything in, and has an adjustable lanyard. This is 100% waterproof to 10m or 30’. Alternatively, if you’re looking at just taking your phone out with you, our Waterproof Phone Case with a lanyard offers great waterproof protection and is really easy to use so you can still capture photos of your adventure..
Correct stand up paddleboarding technique – 5 steps to help you stand up on a SUP:
- Start by getting your board fully into the water so the fin is free from hitting the bottom.
- Start off in a kneeling position, on your knees take a few strokes each side with your paddle.
- Slowly stand up with one foot at a time and stay in the middle of the board with your feet parallel to the stringer the (fairly wide PVC strip glued down the centre of the board to improve rigidity), about shoulder-width apart.
- Keep a slight bend in the knees and keep your core centred over the board.
- Starting out, you may fall off, but don’t worry, most people do! If you end up in the water, hop back on and up and try again – if you get cold easily, we recommend wearing a wetsuit and even wetsuit boots.
Top SUP tips
- Make sure you are a fairly confident swimmer before heading out on your paddleboard and always wear a lifejacket.
- Learn how to read the weather probably – wind speed and direction are really important so you can make a safe choice about where and when to head out on the water.
- Always wear your leash, your board is your buoyancy so you don’t want to lose it.
- If you are a beginner, start off with a wider paddleboard – a lot of people make the mistake of starting out on a board much too small and can never seem to gain balance and become disheartened.
- Don’t give up too easily – with patience and practice you will get the hang of it and your balance will improve, it’s just about perseverance.
Good luck to those SUP beginners and happy paddling to those SUP lovers – paddleboarding is a great waterport, good for the body and the soul! Check out our full range of waterproof bags and accessories here