All paddle boards are not created equal. Basically any hull capable of some displacement can be considered a stand up paddle board, whether it looks like an old Peruvian Inca straw boat or an Italian gondola. Today, “SUP” specifically refers to a wider, floatier surf board capable of holding your weight and is propelled with a longer, stiffer paddle while standing up.
Most first timers getting into the sport don’t know to look for anything specific. Rentals tend to be a plastic board with an excessive amount of width, and can be quite heavy. Excessive weight and extra wide width are detrimental to a board’s performance, stability on the other hand is increased greatly by it.
Once a paddler tries a lighter weight (epoxy or carbon construction) and narrower board, they are surprised by the challenge they are facing. Many will go back to the easier, heavier, more forgiving boards while others will welcome the endless opportunities that being on a multi-tasking board will offer.
A light weight, well designed paddleboard will take you from beginner to advanced status if you put the time on the water. Challenges are part of the sport whether the choice is racing, wave riding or cruising along. As such, building a strong foundation is paramount.
Getting your “sea legs,” understanding your placement and body weight distribution on the board will allow you to turn quicker, go faster and feel comfortable while paddling along.
Paddlling technique or proper strokes are the engine of your power, creating momentum. Short or long strokes are all used at different times while SUPing.
Lack of awareness and knowledge of the various paddling techniques can create back problems, lack of stability, and will slow down your progress.
SUP is an easy, approachable, and fantastic sport that doesn’t not demand much from beginners to start having fun from the moment they hit the water. At the same time, it also offers challenges that will push you past your comfort zone, if you let it. See you on the water!