An Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding Part 1

A couple of years ago I was over in England and I happened to visit the city of Bristol in the West of England. It seemed to me an interesting place full of a rich history of engineering brilliance (Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a high up suspension bridge in Clifton, a part of Bristol, the train station which is now called Bristol Temple Meads and the first steam ship SS Great Britain which is moored in the docks; but it also has something of a darker history related to the slave trade. Many of the larger and more impressive buildings in the city were built by merchants who got rich on the proceeds of slaving.

However, although hopefully providing something of a backdrop to the city I really wanted to talk about learning to paddleboard. I remember taking early morning walks in the docks, which is really lovely on a clear day and seeing enthusiastic paddle boarders paddling their way past the SS Great Britain.

bristol paddleboarding

It looked a very peaceful and tranquil activity. Anyway, the image stuck in my head and recently I had a chance to try out paddle boarding for myself. I thought I’d use this post to let you know how I got on and what SUP choices were available.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding – Harder Than It Looks

I’m not ashamed to say, that it turns out that paddle boarding is a lot harder than it looks. It’s also physically much more demanding than I expected, in fact by the end I was practically exhausted, from the exertion required, something I simply hadn’t expected.

Introduction to the “Gear”

First, let’s take off the main pieces of equipment that are involved in paddle boarding.

A stand-up paddle board.

Obviously. The particular board that you choose really depends upon your level of experience, your weight and size, your skill and the purpose to which you expect to put your board. In the example above, the paddleboard is that I witnessed in the docks in Bristol did not appear to have a difficult time of the conditions. The water was very calm and the effort required to paddle seemed to be slight. In contrast course if you intend to surf on your paddle board, then I would expect a different type of board to be required altogether. I was just paddling on a lake, similar to the docks I mentioned in Bristol. So I had an inflatable standup paddleboard chosen for me by my instructor.

A paddle.

The panels are approximately the same height as you, although perhaps a little bit taller. They are angled in order to generate the optimal efficiency. The strange thing is that the panel is held in the opposite way to which you expect when you first start. I found this really difficult to get my head around, and it was one of the early snags I encountered.

A leash.

These sometimes come with the actual stand-up paddle board itself, but more commonly they are sold as separate items. In short ensures that you are tethered to your SUP. This is in case that you fall off it and for some reason or another find it difficult to return to the board. By being leashed to your ankle it will always be in the close vicinity. There are different types of leashes required for different conditions and you should make sure that you have the correct one before going out.

Other Items

There are a number of other items of equipment that you might take along with you on your paddle boarding adventure, however they tend to revolve around ensuring that you have warm clothing, a drink, perhaps something to eat, and something to protect you from overexposure to the sun.

There is much more to be said what the best stand-up paddle board might be, but there is obviously insufficient room in this article and you be best following the link provided.

In the second part of my article, to be published shortly by intend to look at how to stand sensibly on your board and how to approach the basics of paddling stroke itself. Stay tuned.


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