Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has quickly become a popular activity at beaches and lakes around the globe. With a few SUP tips and guidance from an instructor, it’s easy to pick up, provides a great workout, and affords an astonishing aquatic perspective and intimacy that is glaringly missing from other water sports.
Unlike surfing or bodyboarding or swimming, paddle boarding allows the rider to stand erect on the surface of the water for as long as they want.
Enjoyment is not dependent on swell direction or strength. Instead, the sport promotes a more malleable relationship between ocean and participant.
Here’s more about the sport and tips to help you get started.
Stand-up paddle boarders celebrate their unique view which trumps that of any surfer or swimmer. The technique does not take years to master and there is no pecking order of a lineup.
Perhaps best of all, anyone able to stand on two feet can be paddle boarding with just a few hours of effort.
Indeed, the basics are quite simple to grasp: If you’re just starting out on your first day of your holidays, why not rent a board and try stand up paddle boarding instead of surfing?
It’s almost guaranteed you’ll enjoy yourself, but renting is a good way to find out without committing to a thousand dollar investment.
Wade out into a body of water without significant wave motion, a bay or protected ocean cove are great places to start.
Cross the paddle perpendicular to the length of the board and hold it, along with the board’s rails, at the approximate center of the deck.
Climb onto the board so you are kneeling with your knees just behind the shaft of the paddle.
Your hips should be square to the front of the board. Body weight should be kept just behind the center point of the board as to avoid the nose of board from sticking of the water and the tail from being submerged under the surface.
From this position, try paddling and getting a feel for balancing on the board. Three or four paddles on your right side followed by three or four on your left will keep you pointed straight ahead. When you feel comfortable, stand up from your kneeling position.
Remember to bend your knees athletically to maximize balance and keep your eyes at the horizon, not down at your feet. Feeling well balanced is the most difficult part of learning how to stand-up paddleboard.
The first time you try stand up paddle boarding everyone falls a few times, so never get discouraged. Once you get the hang of standing, the remaining basics are easy to master.
Paddling is most effective when the shaft of the paddle is kept at a right angle to the surface of the water. Turning can be accomplished by simply paddling only on one side of your body.
You will turn the opposite direction as the side you are paddling on. For sharper turns, paddle with backstrokes on one side of the board and you’ll turn to the same side.
The fashion for SUPs may be new, but there’s a real history to these craft. As well as hiring learner models, there’s custom SUP boards around that are built to your spec. And the more you practice this sport, you’ll see there’s plenty of competitive events to get your paddle into.
Note the view you have while standing, one of the most coveted aspects of the sport. Effective propulsion and maneuvering can be learned in a single afternoon. Add a few friends and try your luck catching a wave you may find yourself hooked for life. Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy the aquatic riches around you.
For more surfing info and guides, check out: Top 10 surf spots in Hawaii / Buying wetsuits for surfing: A ‘how to’ guide /Surfing Equipment: How to buy a Longboard /Top 10 Surf Spots in the Canary Islands
- Stand Up Paddle: A Paddlers Guide book review
- Beginner surfing tips: How to catch a wave
- Everyone’s going Paddleboarding
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