You don’t have to be a professional waterperson or even super fit to enjoy stand up paddleboarding (sup) and that’s where the inflatable stand up paddle board is really making a difference.
Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a popular (and fun!) activity for outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to spend their time on the water.
So what is stand up paddle boarding (sup)
Stand up paddle boarding is neither surfing or canoeing. It’s totally unique and whilst skills can migrate from one or another, the vibe is very different.
As you know, surfers paddle their board laying down or prone and then sit around for ages waiting for waves. Compare this to stand up paddle boarders who can paddle out, turn and go on any wave they choose.
You then have the original paddle boarding in which paddlers tend to kneel and paddle by hand. It’s a much older sport and really tough, but much closer to sup than canoeing.
Many stand up paddle boarders favour flat and calm waters as it is much easier to stand up, whilst other choose open rougher water, but that’s totally down to you. Whichever you choose, stand up paddle boarding provides a seriously good all over body workout.
So what is it that we Love about Stand Up Paddle Boarding
It’s a guaranteed workout without even trying and it can be whatever you want it to be – fun and relaxed or gnarly and crazy.
It’s a great way to make new friends and build a community in a relaxing environment even for those of you who may be a little bit shy.
Why not enjoy seeing places you never dreamed of and seeing them from unique angle that can only be had from the water.
What are the different types of Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand up paddle boarding can be whatever you wan it to be, but there are some disciplines that stand out for us.
The great thing about fishing from a sup is you can get anywhere. You can get specific inflatable and hard stand up paddle boards for fishing that are a bit wider and have a piercing bow so you can travel easily.
A SUP would allow you to go into shallow water, and be quick to react or follow the fish whilst also being easy to launch and store.
Most importantly is the board is super quiet and won’t scare the fish.
The added dimension provided by SUP means doing yoga requires a great deal of focus and calm.
The bets boards for this are the inflatable stand up paddle boards as they are more comfortable.
Quite a few classes for Yoga are run by SUP clubs around the UK and this is on the increase during the summer when it’s warmer. We also do a Yoga specific inflatable board that can be joining to a floating hub so you can tether multiple boards together on the water.
Racing is a side of the sport that sees people competing against others, whilst also competing against themselves.
Stand up paddle board racing isn’t just about the more advanced paddlers, but is also enjoyed by the more novice paddlers who have their own classes to compete in.There are classes run by brands like the NICSO Naish competitions and then GBSUP.
Let’s talk a bit about safety
All sports need careful consideration , but add water and you need to thing smart.
Buoyancy aids or pfds are worth considering. Whilst it’s not a legal obligation, it makes sense to be aware of your limitations and to keep safe.
Also make sure you have a strong leash as that is the link to your biggest lifeline.
Getting Started: The Basics
There’s no rush with sup so enjoy it. Plan your first few times out to be in nicer weather so you’re not worrying about the cold , rain and wind.
Let’s now talk about the kit you’d need to get on the water:
The best thing about stand up paddleboarding is that you can have fun on anything and you don’t really need much kit, but it is worth making sure you don’t pick the things that are harder to use.
- Stand up paddle board: In the beginning you can rent a board or go for some lessons. This way you can save money and get to know different kit. Once you’re ready you’re probably going to want to buy an inflatable stand up paddle board as it is easier to transport and store.
- Personal flotation device (PFD): Definitely get a safety jacket and this way you can feel more relaxed and secure.
- Safety whistle: A whistle attached to the pfd is a great idea as it will be heard much further than your screams or calls for help.
- Paddle: This is going to be your most important purchase as a good paddle will last a lifetime, but for now choose a glass fibre paddle and not a aluminium one.
- Leash: The leash is your lifeline so make sure they’re new and in good condition.
Other kit to consider
Optional things you might like in your kit bag:
- A lip balm as salt air does dry you out
- Water bottle
- Towel, but leave that in the car.
- A mobile phone is a useful safety tool but needs leaving in a waterproof case.
Being prepared is the best way to be safe on a sup as you’re vulnerable to the elements.
Wetsuits or drysuits are the most common options with boots, gloves and hoods needed in the colder months.
That said you’re going to get hot so not being overdressed is also important and wearing a winter suit in spring may be too much and you’ll cook.
If you suffer from sunburn, make sure you wear a t-shirt and sunblock in the summer as the reflection can massively increase the strength of the suns rays.
If you like the freedom then you can also paddle in neoprene shorts and vest which will give the ultimate feeling of comfort whilst giving a barrier.
Also bear in mind that when you’ve done having some comfortable loose clothing to wear and even a towel robie would make you a lot warmer and comfy for the drive home.
Let’s Get Moving
So far you’ve got wetsuit, board, inflatable stand up paddle board and you’re ready to go so all that’s left is to get on the water.
This next section is our very simple get up and go guide:
- Put the inflatable stand up paddle board in the water and make sure it is deep enough not to stuff the fin into the ground.
- Now stand alongside the board and lay the paddle across the board just in front of the carry handle.
- Kneel onto the board.
- Holding the paddle correctly you can now paddle about for a while getting used to steering and generally navigating the board.
- Once you’re happy with going around you can try and stand. Don’t hesitate as it’s only water and make sure to hold the paddle in the water as you get up.
It is often easier to stand up when the board is moving slightly as it becomes more stable, but the best advice is begin on totally flat water:
- To stand you begin by going form the knees and move one foot back whilst leaning evenly on both hands. Now place the other foot back so you are standing but still with hands on the board/paddle across the board.
- Slowly come to a straight up pose, but on the way up dip the blade of the paddle in the water so it becomes a third leg.
- This is the biggest challenge for everyone as we’re all different.
- The answer isn’t so much about a defined technique, but simply get on and practice.
- That said, having a wide enough inflatable stand up paddle board will really help and making sure the water is calm.
- For some first timers, balance is hard especially those who haven’t really done much activity like this before so do persevere and if necessary try doing things off the water to get more balance.
- Keep your knees bent , but don’t crouch too low or you cannot paddle.
- Keep the board moving and don’t stop paddling no matter what as this is much like riding a bike and peddling.
- Never raise the paddle up high as your vulnerable.
- Relax your grip on the paddle and keep the lower hand about half way down the shaft.
- Widen your stance as far as the board allows.
- Look forwards and not down.
- Now relax – it’s only water.
The paddle stroke
There’s a few different strokes so lets keep it simple for now and get you moving, but before we do that you need to know how to hold the paddle.
The diagram shows it quite clearly with hands in place, but also the direction in which the blade should point. Note how the slope of the blade is away from the person, never towards.
Another thing to note is that you will probably swap the blade from side to side as you go along every few strokes due to the board steering off of course as you paddle along.
Basic forward stroke
Referring back to our picture shows the person holding the paddle on the left hand side. As a beginner you’ll probably only manage 3 or 4 strokes before the board bends off of course and you will need to switch sides.
Never grip the paddle hard and don’t strain as it will cause muscle aches to take it easy to start with.
Slightly tip forward from the waist and then reach the lower hand forward pushing the blade away from you before dipping it into the water.
Once the blade is fully sunk pull back on the lower hand and stand up. Note that this isn’t the most detailed description of a paddle stroke as it is actually quite complex so for now we’ll keep it simple.
Once your paddle reaches the line of your feet lift the paddle out of the water and reach forwards again.
Being able to slow down or even do an immediate on the sport turn is very handy and this is where the reverse stroke comes in.
All you need to do is push the blade in behind your feet and then pull the blade to the front of the board to move the board. The fins will cause the board to rotate more than travel.
The cross bow
Another means of turning the board quickly whilst still moving forwards is to draw the paddle across the front of the board.
Paddle as normal and whilst you’re moving reach the blade out front and across the other side of the board.
Reach it far forward and around the nose which will force the board to turn.
You can do this whilst standing still or moving.
Falling from the board
Everyone falls and there are safe ways to do it. It doesn’t matter if we’re sup surfing or flat water paddling.
As you feel a fall coming on you need to accept it’s happening and not try to grab or save yourself as that can end up with you falling onto your board and paddle.
Falling onto an inflatable stand up paddle board is not so much of a problem, but falling onto a hard board sup can hurt a lot more especially if you fall down onto your ribs.
When you do fall make sure you land away from the board and don’t try to grab the board on the way down.
Don’t let go of the paddle but hold it away from you.
Be aware of the boards position and especially fins.
Getting back onto your inflatable stand up paddle board
Inflatable stand up paddle boards are quire thick so they are bit hard to get back onto than a smaller surf sup that sits very low in the water.
- Swim up to your inflatable board and reach across and over it.
- Lay the paddle up onto the board.
- Now kick hard to propel yourself up higher and pull at the same time.
- Push your self up and over and then finally lay yourself flat on the board before standing.
Buying your first inflatable stand up paddle board
This is a minefield but we’ll keep it simple for now as it’s your first board.
All round inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards
Don’t get too hung up on shapes etc as your first board will need to be a bit of everything so buying an inflatable stand up paddle board should be pretty easy with a few considerations.
You need to make sure it’s got enough volume and not too short so we’d recommend looking at 10’6 + in length. An inflatable stand up paddle board of this length will have plenty of volume even for a bigger 100 kg person.
The more pin tail shapes are often more wobbly to stand on and especially when turning so a wider tail is helpful and a more pointy nose shape will make the board travel a bit faster.
If you want to paddle with friends and possibly travel a bit further then 11’6+ is really the way to go much like our I Love SUP 11’6
Surf Stand Up Paddle Boards by Jimmy Lewis UK
This is a whole new world and amazing fun. It’s not really possible to say what will suit you as they’re all so different and depends on you , the conditions etc.
What I would say is that any board can be surfed,so it now depends on what level you’re at.
We have some amazing shapes like the Jimmy Lewis Super Frank which gives the rider the chance to ride a much smaller board whilst being stable to paddle around. 7’6 to 8’6 and a 95kg paddler can enjoy them without problem. I know as that is me.
Then we have the board like the Jimmy Lewis Striker 9’5 which is an amazing all round and easy going surf shape. It rides really smoothly and can be used for a bit of old school nose riding too.
All of the said we have no problem sup surfing an inflatable paddle board like our 11’6 if the waves aren’t too serious and it will offer an easy way to start off.
Racing Stand Up Paddle Boards
Racing is a whole new world and kit really can get expensive for the best and proven stuff so maybe you’re better starting off on our I Love SUP 12’6 and see if you like sup racing #gbsup
It’s all about going fast but also being able to mange the board in differing water conditions so if it’s too hard to stand on as its narrow then you’ve just lost the race.
Our favourite all water race board is the Jimmy Lewis Sidewinder. 3 widths make it an easy choice for those looking for ultimate speed or more control in rougher waters.