Advice by Sport
Stand up paddling, or SUP is one of the hottest trends in watersports right now. Stand up paddle (SUP) beginners, do you want to throw yourself in the water and take your first steps on the board? We will help you to prepare your equipment and advise on best practices to start safely.
At first, you will make short trips to a calm water level (lake, river or sea) as you will need stability. You will need a stand up paddle (also called "sup") wide and thick. For easy transportation, you can choose an inflatable board. This type of board fits in a big backpack and can easily enter the trunk of the car. The inflatable technology called "dropstitch" gives excellent rigidity to the board when inflated to the indicated pressure. It's also very shock-resistant and does not hurt if you fall on the board. Always use the foot leash (cord that connects your body to the board) for your safety, even on flat water. For the paddle, a height-adjustable model (for the whole family) in aluminum (solid) will do just fine. If you choose it removable, it will fit in the inflatable sup bag. Finally, do not forget a buoyancy aid if you are not comfortable in the water.
Ready to go to the water and start to stand up paddling? First you have to adjust the adjustable paddle to your size. Unlock the adjustment system, extend your arm over your head and adjust the variable part so that the olive (handle) of the paddle comes under your wrist. Lock the clamping system, it's good. Then, the best is to start by kneeling on the board, especially if the launch is close to a pontoon to avoid falling on the edge of last. Start rowing on your knees and then as soon as you feel comfortable, stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the front of the board, resting on the paddle you lay flat on the board in front of you. Keep your legs bent and your feet well apart for a good balance. Put one hand on the handle of the top of the paddle, the other on the tube and begin to row by orienting the blade of your open paddle towards the front of the board. Try to sink the blade into the water by planting it as far forward as possible and take it out of the water at your feet. That's it, you know how to paddle!
There are multiple ways to turn on a SUP. With improvement in skills, you will turn much faster and efficient, especially during competitions or friendly races with friends! It is a simple technique. Paddle on the opposite side to turn the board (paddle left to go right). The more you paddle towards the back of your SUP, the faster you will turn. This technique is not suitable for long touring boards because it takes a long time to rotate them using this technique, back paddling will work much better. When competing, use the pivot turn. This involves stepping back on the board and getting in "surfing" position, so the front of the board lifts out of the water and the SUP pivots on its tail.
When practicing stand up paddling, or SUP on the ocean, you should be within 300m distance with the shore or the boat. The safety gear you have is your foot leash and phone! You can secure your phone in a waterproof pouch, and slip the waterproof bag under the straps on the board. Remember, the most secure way is to wear a buoyancy vest.
The weather changes every minute, so it is important to understand the conditions. Bear in mind wind and big swells, as they might make accessing the shore or starting point difficult. Also, you are likely to feel colder on water than on land, so prepare extra clothing in cold weather and only take them off after you feel warm. Last but not least, use sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun flares from the water surface.
As you know, any initiation to SUP requires good preparation, especially with children. Your young apprentice must be able to swim and coordinate his/her movements (5 years), be equipped with a life jacket and the right sun protection (sunglasses, hat, even an anti-UV t-shirt).
It’s best to place your child on your SUP—as long as he/she is small—while you are paddling. Through this gentle approach, your little ones can become familiar with the water, feel the pleasures of gliding and try to stand on the board by your side. If your child has a snorkelling mask, they can even grasp the chance to observe the underwater world. If they want to give stand up paddling, or SUP a try, just adjust your paddle into the appropriate size and give out a couple of beginners tips... You will be surprised how fast they pick it up!