SUP is an acronym and stands for "stand-up paddleboarding". It is one of the fastest growing watersports in the world. It is a combination of kayaking and surfing. You basically stand on an over-sized surf board and propel yourself with a single blade paddle. Paddleboards are longer, wider and more buoyant than traditional surf boards, allowing you to comfortably balance on them.
There are three basic types of stand up paddle boards: surf, all-round, and flat water/race.
Surf specific stand-up paddle boards are typically shorter, have a narrower nose and tail and more rocker (curve) than all-round, and flat water/race boards. Surf paddleboards are perfect if you are always going to spend your time in the surf. The narrower nose makes the board much more maneuverable on a wave, but the trade off is that is that they are slower and don’t track in a straight line on flat water. They are also often less stable.
All-round boards are typically thicker, wider, and longer than surf specific models. These versatile, multi-purpose boards are great first time boards because they allow you to explore all aspects of the sport with only one board. All-round boards are wide enough to be very stable, have decent glide and tracking for flat water paddling or open ocean touring, but also enough of a rocker for decent surf performance.
Flat water boards are optimised for flat water, open ocean paddling, and ‘downwinders’ (going from point A to B with the wind at your back). They are typically longer than all-round boards, and often have a nose area that is pointed to help the board slice through the water smoothly, increase glide and help the board go straight. Most flat water boards are wide enough to be stable for beginners, however race boards, which are in the same family, are narrower to increase the boards speed. The narrowness makes race boards challenging for beginner paddlers and are not recommended.
Solid stand up paddle boards are built of many different materials from foam, fibreglass, kevlar, plastics, and wood. The higher end brands usually make epoxy boards from a foam core laminated with layers of fibreglass for strength and rigidity.
Most solid stand up paddle boards have an air vent installed on the deck. Air vents are used as a way to help prevent delamination of the epoxy resin from the EPS foam blank.
- No inflation time required. You can get straight out on the water
- Super stable with stronger wind or choppy water
- Ultimate performance regarding speed and agility or for tricks while surfing
Inflatable SUP Boards
- Minimal storage space required as iSUPs pack-down into a backpack
- Easily fit into an airlines hold allowance for travelling abroad
- Perfect if you want to paddle in locations that are not easily reachable by car
- More affordable than solid SUPs
Solid SUP vs. Inflatable SUP Transportation
Inflatable stand up paddle boards (iSUPs) are manufactured from layers of PVC plastic with woven fibres connecting to the top and bottom inside the board and are surprisingly rigid once inflated. Inflatable SUPs tend to be a little lighter than many Solid boards because they are composed mostly of air.
Board volume and length are key factors when selecting the right size stand up paddle board.
Use the formula below to estimate of how much Volume you should be looking at in your board.
- Beginners - your weight in (kg) x 2 (e.g. 90kg x 2 = 180 litres)
- Intermediates - your weight in (kg) x 1.7
- Advanced - your weight in (kg) x 1.3
The right length for you, is based on your weight.
COMPONENTS OF A PADDLE
A paddle for stand up paddle boarding consist of three parts:
The SUP paddle handle is ergonomically designed to fit the palm of your hand.
The shaft is considered the most important part of the paddle, our paddles are made of either aluminium or carbon. The material of a paddle makes a big difference to the performance.
- Carbon - Most common material, which provides the paddle with stiffness and memory
- Aluminium - Rigid material, which can be heavy
Stand up paddle blade sizes can vary from large to small. A large blade will displace more water in the paddle stroke and offer more power on demand. However, in the hands of a beginner paddler, the larger blade size may disable them with shoulder pain over time.
As a rule of thumb, smaller blades are generally preferred in the surf and are gentler for all users, ladies especially. Larger blades are used more in distance or downwind paddling.
HEIGHT OF PADDLE
To maximise your performance and enjoyment on the water, you need to have the correct stand up paddle length/height for the type of paddling you decide to do.
Surf SUP paddles are usually between 6-8 inches above the paddlers height due to lower stance taken in surfing.
Flatwater SUP paddles are usually between 8-10 inches above the paddlers height for improved reach and power in each paddle stroke.
Racing SUP paddles are usually between 10-12 inches above the paddlers height for maximum reach and power in each paddle stroke for speed.
If you want to stand up paddle board in both the surf and on the flatwater, you can either buy two paddles or buy an adjustable.
While not always required, a leash is a good idea as it is what keeps you attached to the board if you fall off. Stand up paddle board leashes are especially useful in choppy conditions or when catching waves.
There are two styles of leashes:
- Coil: This leash is designed to stretched out when under tension (ensures your board is at safe distance when you fall off) and to coil up compactly when paddling. This helps prevent the leash from dragging in the water.
- Standard: This is a regular cord leash similar to surf board leashes. These are less likely to tangle if you are moving around on the board. They will drag in the water but are usually lighter than a coil leash.
A general rule of thumb is to have a leash as long as your board. For stand up paddle that can get pretty long. Depending on your skill level and paddle style this can vary. A leash that is within a couple feet of the length of your board will usually do the trick.
- Longer: Allows the board to float further away reducing risk of the board hitting you. Good in choppy or surf conditions.
- Shorter: Keeps the board closer to you if you fall off. Often preferred in flat water as there is a much lower risk of a wave pushing the board into you.
Once you have bought your new stand up paddle board equipment, the guidelines below will help you maintain and extend the life of your gear:
- Store your SUP equipment out of the sun, in a dry and shaded area
- Transport your SUP board and paddle in a protective bag to prevent damage
- Be careful putting the board in the water and taking it out - there may be rocks or other sharp objects when putting your board down
- Be careful when you are paddling and avoid any obstructions that can damage your board, paddle, or fin
- Wash your SUP equipment after going in salt water, be sure to get the fin boxes, and the deck pad
- Regularly check for dings and cracks on your board and paddle
- Be especially aware of your board's nose and rails - those are the two most common areas that get damaged
- If you find anything that has the potential to let water into your SUP board, get it taken care of immediately - all our boards come with a repair kit to make it simple!