Stand up paddle boarding is a very fast growing sport in the water world even though it is fairly new. It started in 2004 and now is so well known that it is done in almost all bodies of water around the world. Oceans, lakes, rivers and bays are all conducive to paddle boarding. Really, you could paddle board in someone’s pool if you really wanted to.
What do you need to paddle board?
A board – Fairly obvious. However, boards comes in all shapes, sizes and types. What it is not, is a surf board. A stand up paddle board i much thicker than a surfboard and can even come with a sup pump.
Paddle boards can be anywhere from eight to 12 long, around two and a half feet wide and almost half a foot thick. The bigger the board, the easier time you’ll have. Using a sup pump can help you with momentum so you can focus on balance.
Your board should also come with a traction pad already installed onto the board’s deck. The traction pad helps to provide something for your feet to grip to as well as a softer cushion to stand on.
A paddle – Again, there are many different types of paddles. It’s not just your typical canoe paddle. There’s plastic, aluminum, wood and also carbon fiber. Not only that but you can get different handles, blades and shapes, depending on your board. You always want your paddle to be be six to 10 inches taller than you.
A leash – This is what will keep your board attached to your ankle should a wave sweep you off. Waves and currents can quickly take your board from you so having a leash ensures you continue to be the board’s owner.
It’s also helpful if you have a sup pump because the leash can be tethered to the pump, shutting it off if you fall off.
A personal flotation device – Once you get a little more daring and decide to venture out past the regular surfing area, you will be required by the Coast Guard to have a life vest that is approved by the United States Coast Guard.
How does paddle boarding work?
I thought you’d never ask! In short and simple terms: the surfer stands on the board holding their paddle and uses the paddle to propel them as they catch and ride waves. Unless of course you have a sup pump which is mainly for beginners who need the extra boost before being able to use pure body strength to catch a wave. However it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are lots of techniques and things you can learn. Lets go over a few basic tips.
How to stand up
Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, who can’t stand up? Well, you’d be surprised. First of all, you have to make sure that the board is far enough into the water so that the fin doesn’t hit the ocean floor. Then, mount the board on your knees and get used to paddling each side of the board while on your knees. At this point, you can start to stand by using one foot at a time. Most importantly: stay in the middle of the board at all times with your feet about shoulder width apart and a slight bend at the knees. Your core should be tightened to help your balance and posture.
How to do a forward stroke
Grip your paddle with both hands with the top hand straight out from the shoulder and the bottom hand a foot or two below your top hand, wherever is comfortable. You bottom arm must stay straight at all times while you pull your top arm towards your body. That is one motion. The next is to extend your top arm out as you put the paddle into the water as far as possible, bending at the knees if necessary. Push your self past the paddle head, switching sides with every few strokes.
Those are the basics but I wouldn’t try stand up paddle surfing without an instructor!