If you are new to the Stand Up Paddling, the first thing you should do is read up about it.  There are plenty of good publications out there, unfortunately some might confuse you more than help in selecting your first board, but they can give you insight into the sport and help direct you into what areas are most interesting to you. The design feature of SUP’s is one of those confusing areas.  See the article Design of SUP’s for more information.

Getting started suping After that I would recommend getting on a few boards so you can see the difference in various styles. If you have friends/acquaintances that SUP, start with them, see if they will take you paddling or if you can borrow a board. If not you could go to a demo day or rent a board for a day.

Do you need lessons? That is a good question and worth discussing. Anyone can get on a board and paddle, but why is it that someone else can paddle the same board better? They attended a lesson; someone taught them how to do it better. Paddlers over the years have developed proven techniques that improve their skill, most of which will not come naturally. Lessons are beneficial for any sport and paddling is no exception. Check with your local dealer, adult education programs or area paddling clubs for available programs. There are even “Paddling Schools” you can attend.

Fortunately, Stand Up Paddling is relatively easy to get into compared to kayaking or canoeing. Unless you want to get a job specific board, like a race board for example, paddleboards, in general, are pretty forgiving.

Your First SUP: This can be very nerve racking. Most people know very little about SUPs. It is a new sport. There are a lot of misconceptions and most preconceived ideas about SUPs prove to be mistaken. Read this entire section before looking for your first board. Some of the information may not apply to you but the better informed you are, the more likely you will be satisfied.

These are things that you should take into consideration;
The water where you will use it - SUPs fall into a few categories

1.Planning SUPs which have bows shaped like a surf board and tend to be shorter. These boards work best in conditions where surfing is an option. They make a good all purpose board for paddlers near the coasts.

2.Displacement SUPs have bows shaped more like a canoe or a kayak (I'm referring to the bottom of the board, you can have planing boards that are pointy) and are usually a bit longer. These boards work best on inland waters where the waves are not really suitable for surfing. They don't surf as well but they glide much better.

The size of the paddler  - SUPs are design for specific weight ranges. Even though you can put a smaller person on a board designed for someone larger there is a noticeable decrease in performance. A bigger paddler on a board designed for a smaller paddler, well that just won't work at all, but, it's really fun to watch.

Size of Paddle - As a rule of thumb, for River Run or Surf paddle boards, the length of the paddle from the ground should extend above your head by 8 inches. For Racing or Touring boards, it should extend 10”. As with other paddles, there are curved and bent shaft paddles. Try them all and choose what feels best for you.

How you plan to use your SUP - The vast majority of SUP-ers are strictly recreational but if you plan on doing the following usages I've listed a few more things to consider.

1. Yoga - doing yoga on a SUP is getting more and more popular, it really helps improve balance and core strength. An important feature for yoga is to make sure the deck mat is long enough for your yoga positions. Stability is also a major consideration for yoga, if your board is too stable you might as well not bother and if your board is too tipsy .... Splash! This is one case testing various boards can be very helpful.

2. White Water - To get a bomb proof board I would go with an inflatable or poly board.

3.Fishing - Anyone who has fished from a canoe or kayak should really try SUP fishing. There are boards designed just for fishing with fold down seats so you don't have to stand all day, rod holds so you can troll and some even have storage compartments and try downs for tackle boxes.

4.Racing - Make sure you know the race specification before you buy a board. You don't want to get a board that's 12'7" when touring class is limited to 12'6".  See "Design of SUPs"

As mentioned earlier, Paddleboarding is pretty forgiving, as long as you stay away from the extremes, you will most likely be very pleased with the board you purchase. Some surf better and some glide better, but they're all better than sitting on shore.


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