Summer is in full swing, and that means it is time to experiment with new experiences. The warm weather is calling us outside, and most of us end up at the beach no matter how hard we might try to resist the sand and sun. Paddle boarding is a water activity that goes unnoticed because it isn’t as popular as surfing and jet-skiing, but for those who enjoy a less intense aquatic experience, paddle boarding is a great option to try out this summer. Keep reading below to learn about some great tips if you’re interested in testing out a stand up paddle board.
1. Choose the Right Type of Stand Up Paddle Board
Facing a wall full of stand up paddle boards can be intimidating, but don’t fear, we can help you pick the right board. There are three main types of stand up paddle boards to consider: Stock boards, 14 Foot boards, and Unlimited boards. Stock boards are best suited for users 180 pounds or less, and the boards are 12 feet long. They travel fast in rough waters and don’t put a fight when accelerating, but are not the fastest of the bunch in calm waters. 14 Foot boards combine the best qualities of the Stock boards and the covetable calm water speed of Unlimited boards– they’re a safe bet if you’re unsure of the other boards. Unlimited boards are around 17-18 feet long and are the fastest of the group because of their long waterline, which allows them to have a longer glide. Because they’re so long they can be difficult to handle during transport, and do not provide the easiest handling in rough waters. Of course, paddle boarding can be executed with a surfboard if purchasing a new board isn’t an option.
2. Have the Proper Paddle
Know the difference between a stand up paddle boarding paddle and a paddle used for canoes. They look similar, but paddle boarding paddles are generally longer. The blade of the paddle will vary in size depending on the activity, but they are usually shaped like a banana peel. Depending on what type of sport you’re participating in using your stand up paddle board the size and length of the paddle will vary. For surfing, you want a paddle that’s about 5 to 7 inches longer than your height– this is known as “shaka” length. For racing, the paddle should be closer to 10 inches above your height. The paddling technique is not too complicated, so don’t be intimated by having to operate the board and paddle. Hold the paddle in a wide grip with both hands in order to glide through the water quickly as a tighter grip will slow you down. The blade of the paddle should be angled away from the rider, and you should use a “push and pull” method of moving it. By “push and pull” it is meant that the rider moves the paddle forward gently, and then moves it back toward themselves quickly without before removing it from the water.
3. Keep it On a Leash
Unlike those annoying Velcro ankle tethers you hated to use when boogie boarding as a kid, having a tether on your stand up paddle board is important to ensure that it doesn’t float away if you fall off. Also, because the stand up paddle board itself is a flotation device, being tethered to it is an important step to take for safety reasons. In case you don’t wear a personal floatation device– though you should– having that tether on your board can keep you afloat if the waters get rough. Additionally, like paddles, there are different types of leashes and tethers depending on what type of activity you use your board for, so be careful to choose the correct one.
4. Dress Appropriately
In cooler waters, be sure to wear either a wet or dry suit to prevent hypothermia, especially if you’re taking an extended stay out on the water. In warmer waters, a bathing suit or shorts and a shirt meant for getting wet will do just fine. You want something that moves easily in the water and also shields your skin from the sun.
5. Be Aware of Safety Regulations
The US has specific safety measures for waterspouts. Stand up paddle boarding is regarded like most forms of prone surfboard riding and does not require a personal flotation device while in the designated surf zone. But because it’s quite easy to move out of that area without knowing, it’s best to wear a personnel flotation device as the safety regulations may change from area to area. If you’re hitting the waters during the peak of tourist season in an area, pay close attention to the safety regulations because the authorities of that area will be paying closer attention to how they are followed and thus enforce them with more intensity.
If you’re thinking of taking stand up paddle boarding under your wing, consider these tips before you get in the water. Happy paddling!