This is my third year on a Stand Up Paddleboard, and if you sift through the archives on the right over there, you can see how this has been quite a journey for me. I dropped my new board into the water last week and the moment I stood up on it I felt just right. It’s taken me three years, a lot of falling, and just figuring things out to find this point.
Here are some of my tips, this is just all from trial and error!
1. What kind of board should I get?
I get asked this question all the time, it’s the most difficult one to answer. Like anything the answer is: it depends. I started off with inflatables, which I LOVE (I have two). They are easy to transport and they are freaking durable.
I have two Riviera RP 12’6″ boards. One is 22 inches and the other one is 28 inches. The 22 is for racing, and the 28 for training. Click here to see them! I fell in love with the feel of this board. It just rides nice and smooth.
Which type of board you should get depends on what you want to use it for, how you’d like to transport it, and your budget. I like the inflatables for travel. I like the 28 for training because it’s stable and it rides nice. I stick with the 12’6″ length because that is what most women race on. There are 14 footers, but the 12’6″ suits me well and travels well on the top of my Rav4.
In terms of which is easier to prep? I find they are the same. The time an inflatable takes to unroll, inflate, deflate and roll up, is the exact time it takes to secure the board to the top of the car. Driving around with a hard board took some getting used to, I will get to storage in just a bit.
So what kind of board should you get? One that suits you well. The Riviera suits me REALLY well. I tried out a LOT of boards before I found that one!
2. How do I learn?
I learned by watching YouTube. Being a swimmer the technique wasn’t difficult for me to pick up. I had to work on the balance but that comes with time. Around here the best place for a lesson is Bay Creek. They sell and rent boards and have a great Wednesday night race series that begins soon. I can’t wait!
3. What about paddles?
Just like the board, get the paddle that suits you. I have two light carbon fiber paddles because I like to SUP as a workout and I like my equipment light. I paddle distances from 3-10 miles and I am protective of my shoulders. While SUPing is less about shoulders than you think, I am still careful.
Just don’t forget your paddle!
4. How to I get the board on my car?
There are lots of SUP rack systems, just hit up the google. I use two pads on my bike rack, and straps. The straps I have are woven steel and lock, so I don’t worry much about my board’s security. If you can get it off my car and make your way down the street with it without being caught…. you probably deserve it as a prize.
5. Where can I SUP?
Around here, SUPing is fairly new. The answer is… right now you can pretty much do it anywhere you can find water. I like Canandaigua Lake, Irondequoit Bay, and I LOVE to SUP on the Erie Canal. Yes, the canal. I like to hit it early in the morning because I am often the ONLY one on it. The canal has a lot of motorized boat traffic so early in the morning is perfect. I take my 28 incher on this waterway because I am not likely to fall off of it. The canal water isn’t the best water on earth, but I also take showers and stay clean! As long as you do that…. you are good. I would rather SUP atop some nasty water than not SUP. I am ten minutes from several drop-ins, and I can get a good 60-90 minutes in before the world powers up.
Mornings are like this….. how could I not SUP here?
6. What about safety?
I am big on safety, I don’t screw around. SUPing is new around here and many rules have not been created about when and where we can take to the water. Therefore, we must be good stewards and we must be responsible. There are a few things that are a must on a board:
Safety vests: the rule is that you don’t have to wear one, but it must be on your board. I carry one on my board and I wear a waist pack like this one. Yes I am a swimmer, so I am comfortable in the water. However…… I am rethinking this waist pack idea. I have been on lakes where 12-year-olds on jet skis have whizzed dangerously close to me. They seem to get a kick out of throwing you some wake to see if they can knock you off. A waist pack, or a lifejacket on my board isn’t going to help me if I am hit by a jet ski and knocked out.
There are some vests coming out that have a smaller and slimmer fit, because they are bulky and hot. So stand by as I stay tuned to the discussion surrounding that!
Whistle: you must have a whistle. I have one on my waist pack and on my camelback, which I use for hydration on the board.
Leash: You must have a leash attaching you to the board. In paddling circles there is some debate on whether this is useful. There have been cases of paddlers dying because they have not had a leash, and because they HAVE had a leash. But for now, the leash is a requirement.
We can’t prevent every accident from happening, so use common sense when paddling. Don’t head out into the middle of a busy lake on a holiday when you know people are drinking and jet skiing. Don’t assume boats can always see you and YES, they LOVE to try to knock SUPers off their boards. Have all your safety boxes checked, and be a good steward of the water you use. I am discovering some amazing waterways here in Rochester, let’s use them responsibly!
7. Why don’t you just kayak?
I don’t know. I have kayaked several times, it would give me greater waterway access…. SUPing just feels like me. In some ways it feels more simple. I use every muscle in my body when I am out there (not that you don’t in a kayak). There is some strife between the two entities. I don’t really care WHAT you paddle. I don’t care if you sit in a piece of bark and paddle with your ears. Being on the water is a gift and it’s so much fun. Don’t get caught up in which is better…. get caught up in….. man isn’t this amazing?
My third year in….. I finally found the board, the paddle, and the water that feels just right. I have put in the time to gain experience. I like to get a solid sweat on before 7am on the canal. I love to see the sunrise every day from the water. I love the feeling of gliding accross. I just love it.
So get out there. Kayak, SUP…. I don’t care. We have four amazing seasons, it’s time you started enjoying them with me!