Whether you are thinking about purchasing an Inflatable SUP Board or recently purchased your first one, we have a few tips for the beginning paddler!
Learning to paddle a SUP
Consider a leash. A SUP leash will keep the board tethered to your leg and within reach if you so happen to <ahem> “dismount” the board for any reason.
Be sure to face the right way. Before you begin, check where the fin(s) on the underside of the SUP board are. The fin(s) should be behind you as you paddle. Fins help the board “track” in the water and keep it in a straight line.
Start on your knees. Take the board into a few feet of flat, calm water and mount the board on your knees. Get used to the way your weight feels on the board while kneeling. Paddling on the right side of the board will move you to the left, and vice versa. Paddle around a little. Think you’re ready to get up?
Stand up on the board. Keep your feet parallel and shoulder width apart, positioned about in the middle of the SUP board (straddle the handle). Stand up straight and with good posture, but not stiff. Grip the top of the paddle’s handle with one hand, the center of the shaft with the other, and start paddling!
Use your body to paddle, not only your arms. Bend your knees a little, push the paddle into the water, and twist your torso using your stronger core muscles rather than just your arms. Note: If you have a paddle that has an angled or sloped blade, be sure to hold it so the blade slopes away from you. Holding it the other way will cause drag and slow your progress!
Keep your head up. Your body will follow your eyes/head’s lead, so if you are constantly looking down, you may wind up in the drink! Head up, back straight, and body weight slightly over your toes as you paddle are good habits for the SUP board beginner.
Be aware of conditions. Check tides and wind and weather forecasts before you head out to paddle. Weather can change quickly and you do not want to be caught unaware.
Fall gracefully. Away from your board and fins! Go ahead and practice so you are ready for the first time it happens spontaneously.
Mind your equipment. Most “accidents” with the board will happen out of the water, or in too-shallow water. The fin is not meant to run aground or be dropped onto a hard surface from any height. For optimal performance, be sure your inflatable SUP board is pumped to the recommended PSI. Also, if you find yourself in the surf lineup, steer clear of other wave riders until you are comfortable. A wave can tumble you and the board over, and damage your gear or theirs.
Have fun! Stand up paddle boarding is fun and relaxing as you glide through the water under your own power. Even if you are new to inflatable SUPs, know that with practice you’ll improve quickly and soon will be showing others the right way to SUP.