SUP, short for Stand Up Paddle board, is quickly becoming one of the most popular outdoor activities because it is so inclusive and easy to do. Grab your paddle board and just add water!
- Life Jackets and Leashes
As a beginner and throughout your paddle progression, you should start with your life jacket. Even though Sup paddleboards are easy to ride, accidents can happen at anytime, so the wise waterperson will always wear a life jacket. If you find it cumbersome or unfashionable, there are a lot of inflatable life jackets on the market to choose from. They look like a low profile fanny pack with a pull cord- and hey, fanny packs are making a big comeback!
Your Leash is your lifeline to your paddle board if you fall. It makes it easier to get back on your board because it isn’t floating away from you while you swim after it.
There are as many different style Sup Boards to choose from as there are fish in the sea. Don’t worry, you can find your perfect match to the style of paddle boarding you want to do, your size, personal style and budget. I don’t recommend a “beginner board” for various reasons. Hard boards are great for high performance, but can be either delicate or heavy. Inflatable paddle boards are very popular for their ease of use and durability, but it can turn you off from the sport if you start on a low quality paddle board that is a floppy banana or springs a leak. The best way to start is on a good quality all-around stable inflatable paddle board. I recommend an All-Around Stable inflatable paddle board like the SeaGods Diatom Ten6.
3. Check the Conditions
Sup paddle boards, especially inflatable paddle boards, are not designed to be used in high wind. Any wind over 5 knots (about 5 mph) and you should exercise some caution, beginning your voyage into the headwind so you have an easy paddle home. Check the weather forecast, wind finder, and if on the ocean the Marine weather forecast. Also be aware of any riptides, dangerous wildlife and submerged objects.
4. Get Out and Get Wet
Sup paddle boards are not advertised enough by models with wet hair. If you are new to the sport, challenging yourself or going out in new conditions, you will probably get wet! Don’t be afraid to fall in, the water is fine. I like to say, if you aren’t falling in, you aren’t challenging yourself. Once you get over the fear of falling, you will have a lot more fun and learning will begin!
5. Start Low on Your Knees
Just because Sup boards are called Stand Up Paddleboards doesn’t mean you have to start that way. You can start by kneeling and get the hang of paddling and the balance. Once you feel more confident try standing up in the center of your paddle board, feet hip width apart with slightly bent knees. If you are not a DIY learner, there are a lot of patient instructors who are happy to take you out and get you started with a beginner lesson.
Stay Curious and Keep Exploring
Sup boards are so fun and easy to learn to ride, you won’t be a beginner for long! There are always ways to improve your paddle board skills, by taking more lessons like advanced paddle strokes, Touring and Sup Surfing. Don’t forget to join your local SUP groups on FB so you can stay up to date about meet-ups or share tips and pictures.