SUP’ing and Safety
Jul 16, 2018
Standup paddleboarding (SUP) is a watersport that is rapidly growing in popularity. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association showed in the past three years, participation in standup paddleboarding has increased by nearly 120 percent. That’s more than other fast-growing sports including adventure racing, MMA, rugby and BMX.
Standup paddleboarding has the potential for wide appeal because just about anyone can do it. Even beginners can have a great time, as there are a wonderful variety of boards out there - even super-stable boards that are almost hard to tip over. It’s a great way to be out in nature and “unplug”, and has potential for great exercise as well.
You can paddleboard in a number of aquatic environments - the ocean, rivers and lakes. Remember however, safety is important in any body of water.
It’s always a good idea (and in some places, law!) to wear a personal flotation device (PFD), or otherwise known as a life jacket. There are several different styles ranging from vest style to pull-cord inflatable belt style. Talk to an SUP instructor to determine the best one for your style of paddleboarding.
As with any sport, it’s important to be aware of the hazards, such as what’s below the water (rocks, debris), what’s in the water (algae blooms in lakes can make you ill), what’s on top of the water (watercraft). Being aware of currents and weather conditions is important too.
As with any outdoor sport, being prepared for the elements is crucial. A brimmed hat with a cord will keep your face shaded. Wear good sunglasses and waterproof sunscreen. Consider rash guards and paddle leggings to cover up from the sun - or appropriate wetsuit material for the colder seasons.
For those going on longer paddles, hydration is key. Water backpacks are a convenient way to keep paddling while staying well-hydrated. Some will have little pockets to stash a protein bar too.
And if you decide to take this up more regularly, don’t forget about overuse injuries. Warm up and stretch before any paddle excursion. Learn proper form from a pro. And cross train, too!
Your area likely has a boardshop that has SUP lessons and those knowledgeable about equipment. Nationally, REI is a great resource as well, and often hold SUP classes and tours that are well-run.