There are a magnitude of ways to enjoy a stand up paddle board, but many people don’t know the proper etiquette when SUPing. Just like boating or eating at a fancy restaurant, stand up paddle boarding has its own list of Do’s & Dont's that could make or break your next on the water experience. Here are some various recommendations for making the most of your time spent paddling on the water whether you Surf, Race, or just paddle for fun.
SUP Surf Suggestions
Develop Strong Flat Water Skills First: Everyone dreams of riding a beautiful crested wave parallel with the beach while their dog happily smiles comfortably seated on the nose of the board. The problem is you can't be a rock star until you work stage crew or security first. Surf stand up paddleboarding is no different. Developing strong flat water paddling skills prior to entering the surf is the most important thing to learn. These include how to turn the board, stop, go sideways, and perform several turn variations. This way you will have an arsenal of maneuvers in your repertoire to perform as necessary.
Learn and Practice Surfers Etiquette: Learning proper surfing manners is extremely important. Lacking to follow the rules could leave you surrounded by angry paddlers that will heckle you and create a troublesome atmosphere to ride in. The ocean can be a dangerous place so you need all the allies you can get. All surfers use or darn well should use Surfer’s Etiquette to prevent collisions and unnecessary tensions.
CLICK HERE to read 5 Surf Rules Everyone Should Know
Always wear a leash: This is common sense, you are in the ocean. The ocean's forces are unpredictable and a leash is the only way to keep your board near you. If you fall into the water and can’t find your board you will drown….unless of course you can tread water forever….
SUP Race Recommendations
Develop Adequate Training and skills: SUP racing is different from any other form of racing because of the unique risks associated with the sport. Long distance races across the ocean can potentially leave a paddler “extremely far up a creek without a paddle.” Cramps and exhaustion plague even the most fit marathon runners periodically. It’s essential that you know how to paddle, draft, turn and start along with all the fundamentals. Oh and don’t forget you’ll more than likely be trying to perform these maneuvers in tight quarters among hundreds of other racers all fighting with the best of their abilities to surpass you.
Choose a race that is a good length: Many first time racers choose a long race due to their popularity and the bragging rights or “street cred” they hope to obtain from it. This is a mistake. You want to start small and work your way up. Don’t choose a long SUP race if you’ve never competed in a competitive race. Choose one that is within your physical limits and aim low initially until your are extremely confident in your ability to complete what you start.
Have the proper equipment: Many first time racers think their regular paddle will work, but racing requires a longer paddle with a bigger blade. The bigger blade allows more power to be transmitted through each stroke, reducing the amount of strokes you need to take.
- Train your basic endurance starting with medium length races 5-10 km.
- Learn to draft by practicing repeatedly….practice, practice, practice.
- Nutrition & hydration is key. Just like any other race physical endurance is the name of the game.
- Practice and train wearing a Hydration Pack so you are comfortable wearing and using it on the water. This way you don’t lose time fiddling around with it during a race.
- Buy a book on technical SUP racing maneuvers and study it like the bible. It will be filled with scenarios and drills that will improve your game including: Race Starting (e.g. sitting on board like World Series,) Taking Tight Turns at great speeds (around buoys,) and Switching Stance (from parallel to Race Stance)
The biggest thing to remember is have fun in your first race, ask for help, everyone started as a beginner.
General SUP tips:
Though SUP Surf and Racing are exciting new sports hitting the water these days remember you don’t need to be competitive or extreme to have fun going for a paddle.
Falling is inevitable. Remember, keep your arms close to your body. Don't try to reach out and grab your board, or else you may potentially end up hurting your elbows, your face, your shoulders, etc.
Along the lines of preventing cramping in your feet, if you do choose to wear foot ware, don't tie everything so tight. Loosen the laces, keep the buckles loose, and make sure to wiggle your toes.
When holding your paddle, make sure to keep a loose grip on the shaft and stack your hands, one above the other, so as you enter the water that paddle is going to move right alongside the board, helping you stay in straight line.
Know the laws on PFDs and make sure you know how to use yours. A life jacket will add confidence to your overall experience.
Make sure to have safety gear like a leash, paddle leash and PFD Life vest) on board. These items will make your life easier when you fall off your board. Wearing the proper clothes is also very important. You want to be comfy and still be able to perform. Wearing clothing made from quick drying materials is preferred by many paddlers as you never know when you may be going for an unexpected dip. On the contrary if you are wearing a bathing suit don’t forget to bring some additional cover in case you are stranded and need to protect yourself from the sun.
Well there you are. I hope these tips and recommendations enhance your SUP experiences and keep you enthused about the hippest and greenest new sport on the water these days..Stand Up Paddle Boarding.