Summer is here and it’s time to hit the water! Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) has grown in popularity over the last few years, and this Summer is predicted to be it’s biggest yet. SUP is an easy and safe way to enjoy the water, gain a gentle whole body workout, keep the kids entertained, and explore unique waterside locations that you never even knew existed!
As the founder of She SUPs, an all-women’s SUP community, here are my 6 Top Tips to help you get started with SUP this Summer…
- Check the [detailed] weather forecast before you paddle
Often SUP newbies can get caught out on sunny days which are ideal beach days, but actually are too windy for SUP. Websites like Seabreeze and Willy Weather offer a great hour by hour forecast, where you want to focus your attention on the wind. As a guideline, my safety limit for She SUPs paddles 12 knots of wind. Typically if the forecast is 12 knots (approx 22 kph) or above, it isn’t going to be an easy or enjoyable SUP experience for newbies.
- Don’t be embarrassed about kneeling!
Yes it’s called stand-up paddle boarding, but sometimes it’s ok to kneel! Kneeling is actually a technique that all paddlers use from their SUP toolkit. You should be kneeling in shallow water when you’re launching and coming back in from a paddle, you should also kneel when paddling into a strong head wind as you’ll get a lot more power from your stroke, and kneeling in SUP is like child’s pose in yoga – it’s a resting position! At She SUPs a lot of ladies start out kneeling or sitting on their boards, and we encourage that, because at least you’re still gaining all of the mental health benefits from being out on the water, and the standing will come.
- The secret to balancing is having your paddle in the water as much as possible
So you’re keen to give standing a go, as you come up to your feet, get your paddle in the water as soon as possible and keep paddling!! Your paddle is your balance stick, the more it’s in the water, the easier balancing will be.
- Embrace the shaky legs… trust me, it happens to EVERYONE
When standing up for the first time, you will shake. Congratulations – this means you’re engaging lots of new muscles in your body and I promise, the next time, things will be easier. During your first session, calm the shakes by breathing, smiling and having a chat to the person next to you. Your body and muscles will start to calm down and before you know it you will have paddled your first km!
- Always wear a leg rope
In NSW it is not a legal requirement to wear a lifejacket while paddle boarding, however Maritime do recommend you wear a leg rope. This is because when/if you fall off your board, typically the board shoots one way and you go flying in the other direction! A leg rope keeps your board nice and close to you to enable you to easily climb back on quickly and safely. Wear a coiled leg rope if you’re flatwater paddling, or straight leg rope for surfing.
- Have the right equipment for your lifestyle
There are hundreds of SUPs on the market right now, but do you know the difference between a $1500 board and a $300 board? Or perhaps even why you should have an inflatable versus a hard board? Hard boards are often preferred by those who are keen to SUP surf, venture out on the ocean and have storage/roof racks. Inflatable boards such as Red Paddle Co’s are ideal for families with kids, for those who don’t have much storage and those seeking a lighter board to carry from car to beach. With SUPs you certainly get what you pay for, so it pays to do your research before you buy, and if in doubt, there are lots of SUP retailers who offer you the opportunity to try before you buy. Ask your local retailer if they’re doing a demo day or offer demo boards so you can make the right choice for you and your family.
Vikki Weston is the Founder of She SUPs, an all women’s stand-up paddle boarding community. She SUPs’ aims to empower women and girls through SUP education, lower barriers to entry by designing unique SUP experiences exclusively for women, and cultivate a strong supportive network of like minded SUP-loving women from around the world, that can inspire each other to hit the water, and gain all of the incredible mental and physical benefits that being on the water brings.