Whether you have an inflatable SUP or a hard SUP board, paddling season is here! Here are some great tips for the beginning stand up paddle boarder.
Face the correct way. Fins help the board “track” in the water and keep it in a straight line as you go. Make sure the fin(s) on the underside of the SUP board are behind you as you paddle.
Consider a leash. A SUP leash will keep the board tethered to your leg and within reach if you happen to <ahem> “dismount” the board for any reason.
Start on your knees. Take the board into a few feet of flat, calm water and mount the board on your knees. Paddle on the right side to move to the left, and vice versa. Get used to the way your weight feels on the board while kneeling. Paddle around a little. Ready to get up?
Stand up. 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. It is easier to stand if the board has forward momentum. Start paddling!
Use your whole body. 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 your paddle has an angled or sloped blade, 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.
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 happen on land, or in too-shallow water. Don't run aground or drop onto a hard surface, the fin will suffer. Pump your inflatable SUP board to the recommended PSI for best performance. If you find yourself in the surf lineup, stay away from other wave riders until you are comfortable. Waves can tumble you and the board over, and damage your gear or theirs.