From exploring the scenic caves of Southeast Asia to the cold waters of Alaska, Standup Paddle Boarding has created an enduring mark in the international sports scene without any doubt.
With a wide range of companies geographically ranging from America to Brazil producing top-notch standup paddle board and other gear in abundance, the time is now ripe for all sports enthusiasts to take up standup paddle boarding.
This article sheds light on various aspects of stand up paddle board from the basics.
In The Article
Introduction to Standup Paddle Board
- The board or equipment used by the boarders or paddlers to practice standup paddle boarding is often referred to as stand-up paddle board.
- A regular standup paddle board is made up of epoxy resin or polyester which is compatible and adaptable with expanded polystyrene or polyurethane foam. There are boards that use hollow wood design instead of epoxy resin and foam.
- The length of the board normally ranges from 9 feet to 12 feet with important components including concave hulls and padded decks.In the stern portion, these boards usually have no more than three surfboard pattern fins for perfect balance and poise in water.
- Modern boards are now made using high-caliber Carbon Fiber and can be around 7 feet in length. This type of board is used in Stand Up Paddle competitions (Surf).
- Then there are race boards, made of carbon fiber or fiberglass ranging anywhere from 12 to 14 feet.
- The price of a new board can cost anywhere between US$500 to US$3600.
What is Standup Paddling or Standup Paddle Boarding (SUP)?
Stand up paddle boarding and stand up paddle surfing is a spin-off of surfing that has its origin in Hawaii.
In stand up paddling, the paddlers stand straight and propel their boards forward while in traditional surfing the rider waits patiently for a wave to approach them.
There are plenty of variations in this sport including
- Paddle board fishing
- Paddle board yoga
- Whitewater paddling ( River rapids paddling)
- Ocean waves surfing
- Racing on large canals and rivers
- Paddling on flat water surfaces
Where it all Began?
- Standup paddling(SUP) has its humble origins in Africa where warriors used to stand on canoes and propel forward using a paddle.
- Hawaiian surfers started the practice of standup paddling during the 16th century which thereby marked the contemporary start of this sport in the modern era.The practice then continued in the 20th century in Tel Aviv, Israel where lifeguards in the pretext of saving distressed swimmers, stood on their wide boards.
- Beboy AhChoy, Leroy, and Duke Kahanamoku popularized SUP in the 1940’s, which later came to be known as Beach Board surfing.
How to Ride a Stand-up Paddle Board?
By taking note of these useful tips, a beginner can avoid regular mistakes made by countless first-time paddlers.
Keep in mind the leash – Even if you are not paddling for the first time, it is very important to wear the leash every time you venture out into the water. Remember, there are different attachment points as well as various varieties of leashes available in the market. Select the leash that best suits your requirement.
Find the right technique to paddle – The right technique is to pull the paddle blade in a slender trailing position which determines the blade’s stability. When the paddler practices the SUP move, the blade must be suitably placed in a vertical position discharging maximum stroke power.
Choose the right direction – First, familiarize yourself with the nose /front portion of the standup paddleboard. Usually, beginner boards will have large EVA area for better manoeuvrability. Check whether the fins are at the rear end of the board. The style of paddling with the fins at the rear is called tracking. Upfront fins do not provide proper movement however hard we try to propel the board forward.
Keep your paddle and board in a safe place – Safely secure your paddle and board because beginner paddle boards can be quite expensive;
Read the conditions carefully – Be well prepared in advance to know what is the weather going to be on the day of scheduled paddle session. The minute you are stuck in an awkward position, immediately lay down the paddle tucking it between your stomach and the board, waiting for things to normalize. This is known as paddling prone.
Learn to fall/jump into the water safely – Other than learning to paddle for the first time, it is important to learn how to jump into the water without hitting the board or fin. Learning to fall correctly will help you to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Choose the right spot – There may be plenty of paddlers like you out there practising various moves. Stay clear of them as the ocean is a big place which can provide a private space for everyone. Avoid gathering in the same spot for practice.
Stand straight – Avoid looking down while standing on the board. With full body weight on your toes, stand still with the back and head straight.
Avoid arm paddling – The best paddle technique is to use the core to paddle and avoid using the arms. Standing tall and using your arms can be both tiring and cumbersome. Learn the best technique from a professional paddler and save your time and energy.
Different Types of Paddle Boards
As far as paddle boards are concerned, there are different varieties to choose from depending on one’s requirement. They are
Inflatable Standup Paddle Boards – A preferred choice for beginners and for space constrained parties, this type of paddle board is very simple to use. Just pump in some air like you would do in an air bed/mattress and you are ready to paddle.
One of the easiest to carry around wherever you go including flights and road trips, inflatable are highly convenient. Suitable for persons living in apartments and are way less cheap than a normal standard epoxy paddle board, these paddle boards are compact too.
Yoga Paddle Board – It is fun to practice yoga on a stand-up paddleboard and any surfboard or all-around board can be used for this purpose. Yoga practitioners generally practice on a board with additional traction pad. For better results avoid using surf wax as the grip.
Performance or Surf Paddle Board – These boards are available in various sizes and surfers generally use an egg-shaped board as their first choice.
Beginners are recommended to choose a board on the end (longer) and are advised to practice well before getting into the water. This board is not suitable for duck-dive.
Paddle Board-Fishing – Usually sturdy and long with a lot of areas to store fishing gear and equipment, fishing boards come with side extenders, storage space, and rod handlers.
The main disadvantage is that they are not agile and often tend to move slowly compared to other paddle boards.
Paddle Board-Touring – Designed for swift movement through water, they can be easily used for racing and long distances. Mostly found in narrow, long shapes; this board is not recommended for beginners as it needs more strength to manoeuvre.
Paddle Board Flat-water – Best suited for long distance paddling and flat-water paddling, they are distinctly narrow and long than normal paddle boards. Most of them are accompanied by a large storage section to store other accessories such as tent etc.
Paddle Board (All Around) – If you are not sure what type of board will suit your style, it is best suggested to start your paddling journey with this type of paddleboard (all-around).They are conveniently designed to handle small waves and rough flat water.
Looking for something basic yet sturdy paddle board, choose this one. We have listed some of the best paddle boards available in the market for your kind consideration.
Tips to Choose Best Standup Paddle board
For a beginner, it can be bit overwhelming when they are looking to buy a SUP board for the first time.
To assist them, we have listed some key factors to keep in mind before heading to the store
- Functionality – The first thing is to determine what style of paddling you wish to do. Out of the many choices ranging from hybrid to racing etc, those choosing more maneuverability should select small and narrow boards. Cruising enthusiasts has to go in for boards that are quite long.
- Weight and Height – Weight and height combined with paddler’s skill level are the crucial factors one should pay keen attention to. Since paddlers have to spend all the time above the water, weight and height enable one to find the right floatation limit.
- Water Types – Based on the water conditions or the environment, fuller outline boards best suits calm conditions. Pointed outlines are best for choppier or heavy conditions. Rivers, Lakes, or oceans offer different conditions to paddle and optimizing the choice based on the availability is the need of the hour.
- Future Plans – If you are not too ambitious when it comes to paddling, better choose a simple beginner model. Another thing to take note of is the frequency of your paddle schedule. Once in a while paddlers prefer rigid beginner boards even though it is quite bulky.
- Calculate the length – The length starts from the nose and runs until the tail end. The longer the boards are, the faster they travel. Race boards- 12’ or more, touring boards- 11’ inch onwards, playful SUPs ranges from 9’ to 11’, surf SUPs are anywhere between 8’ to 10’.
- Rocker Lines – The rocker lines decide the performance of the board. The first time buyers must give topmost priority to the water condition. The more the rocker line, the better the manoeuvrability of the board during racing. Enhanced rocker lines are a must for professional racing and flat rockers are necessary to increase speed for flat water paddlers.
- Rail Design – This plays a crucial factor in deciding the surf ability and stability. The mightier the board is, it is most suited for cruising, touring, and racing. Thinner rails favor solid control and easy forward propulsion.
- Tail – Big fuller tails provide excellent planning area to maximize speed and glide with less control while pinched tails offer less planning area for tighter and controlled turning.
For flat water, low surface region tails provide good performance in rough and choppy conditions. Calm waters require tails with the large surface area.
- Nose – Take a look at the nose of the board. Full nose and pointed noses have more and less surface area respectively. Fuller noses provide better drag, increased stability, nice planning, and nose riding activity whereas pointed noses offer less stability, less drag, maximum speed, better displacement, and control.
- Volume – Before checking the board’s volume, it is necessary to take into account paddler’s skill set, board performance, weight, and height.
- Thickness – The best way to measure the thickness is to measure the thickest portion of the SUP board, usually the belly and stringer. Flat deck boards have more floatation since the thickness is pulled towards the rails.
- Width – To measure the width of the board, check out the widest portion which can be anywhere between the back or forward relative to the centre of the SUP board.
Standup Paddle Boarding Essentials
Standup paddle boarding is not only fun but also cool to practice. Like every sport, this one also has certain things to take note of
- Carrying a PFD or personal floating device is essential in certain locations. It is better to be safe rather than to be sorry later.
- Buy the best leash to avoid unnecessary injuries. It only takes a second to fall into the water and get hit.
- SUP paddle is another important thing to carry with you. Keep in mind these simple tips before choosing a SUP paddle
- Decide on the location and style of SUP board
- Storage and transportation of the paddle
- Price of the paddle
- Measure the height of the paddle from the ground level
- Other items
- Carry a watch or mobile, a good quality life jacket, GPS tracker etc.
- Sunscreen and long hat
- A bottle of water or something to keep you active and hydrated
Paddle Board Yoga
- SUP board yoga is the latest exercise trend that has gained a lot of mileage among fitness freaks around the world. It involves performing yoga asanas on a SUP board while staying afloat in tranquil serene water. This sport uniquely melds together vinyasa yoga poses and Hatha yoga poses along with surfing.
- Practitioners usually practice all the asanas on the shore before performing them on the SUP board to gain better control and balance.
We have listed some of the easiest yoga poses anyone can try on a paddle board
- Bridge Pose
- Sleeping Pigeon
- Half Camel
- Low Lunge Pose
- Cobra Pose
- Child’s Pose
In a very short duration, paddle yoga has taken the international community by storm and now it is taught at Orange Bowl Paddle Championships.
Inflatable Paddle Boards
- These paddle boards are ideally suited for SUP newcomers and those constrained on space. Instead of requiring a big trailer, a huge vehicle, or roof racks made for paddle boards, paddlers can easily carry them.
- Mainly catering for beginner paddlers or those preferring style paddles or all around paddle boards, inflatable SUP is typically suited for people with less space.
- Overall, these inflatable SUPs cost less when compared to normal rigid epoxy paddleboard.
Paddle Boards in Ocean
- Ocean paddleboarding provides an enchanting meditative experience and is also a great workout for the entire body.
- When it comes to ocean paddle boarding, it is better to choose touring boards. The touring boards can be used with downwind and flat waters.
- Ocean paddleboards are made with a pointed Touring boards provide the right kind of speed for paddling in the ocean. It is ideally optimized for slicing through the waters smoothly.
- The shape of the board effortlessly favours gliding through the water with ease.
How to paddle board in the ocean
Get into the water – First, wade into the water till you are knee-deep and then jump/hop on the paddle board. Try to stay calm and composed. Now rise from the knee position and continue paddling standing up. For first time paddlers, take professional help without any second thought.
Position Lock – Now, place your feet in the centre of the board at an optimum shoulder length distance. Make sure your knees are slightly bent. Position your regular hand on paddle’s handle top, and hold the centre of the paddle with the other.
Allow the core muscles to come into play as you find your balance comfortably in the centre of the board. Use your hips to propel the paddle forward.
You will soon realize that ocean paddling is a complete body-exercise. Keep trying every time you fall.
Calm and composed – Focusing on the task at hand and staying committed is the key. Stay clear of any anxiety or fear. Never get intimidated by the massive waterfront in front of you.
Paddleboard Position – After all the initial efforts and hiccups, try to sit as soon as the water appears calm. Nourish the solitude feeling the ocean offers full grace.
Experienced paddleboarders – After you have reached a stage where you are looking for something more to add to your normal schedule, learn standup paddle yoga from a trained expert.
Golden Rules of Paddle Boarding
Irrespective of the water conditions, learning to paddle in the right way can go a long way on your paddling journey.
The four golden rules of paddle boarding are
- Immerse the paddle blade completely into the water. This will act as a catalyst in generating more core power when you start pulling.
- Adopt the right position while paddling. Place your feet apart at a shoulder-length distance right at the center of the board with a straight back and bend your knees slightly.
- The third rule clearly states that the paddler must try to use all the core muscles and stop using the arms as soon as possible. By doing this, one can not only save time and energy but at the same time generate more power.
- The fourth rule stresses on the need to keep the board quiet and calm. Engage your leg and calf muscles to keep the board calm. Avoid or try to control swaying in the water.