Learn to Paddleboard: Your Complete Guide
Fancy getting your toes wet in the world of Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)? SUPing is like yoga on water but without the stress of holding a downward dog on a wobbly board. So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
Getting Started: Baby steps
Getting started with SUP is as easy as falling off a log – or, in this case, a board. Don’t worry, though, the aim is to stay on. Most water sports centres across the UK offer beginner SUP lessons with certified instructors who can help you find your sea legs. These sessions usually last 1-2 hours, covering everything from how to handle your board, to maintaining balance, to mastering the perfect paddle technique. Typically, these lessons will cost around £20-£40.
Pro tip: Keep your eyes open for group lessons, they’re more wallet-friendly, and meet people at the same level as you. Its a great way to find yourself a little social group to explore with.
Finding Your Balance: Less Wobble, More Zen
If you’re worried about balancing, remember this, we balance careers, families, social lives, and somehow, we still remember to water the plants. So, balancing on a board? Pfft, we got this.
Start by kneeling on the board, slowly rising to your feet, keeping them parallel and hip-distance apart. Bend your knees a little, keep your back straight, and focus on a point in the distance.
Pro tip: It might feel strange, but practice falling. Knowing how to fall safely (away from your board) can give you a much-needed confidence boost. And hey, we’ve all taken tumbles before – literally and figuratively.
Paddle Techniques: Your New Best Friend
The secret to a successful SUP experience lies in your paddle technique. Hold the paddle with one hand at the top of the handle and the other halfway down the shaft. When changing direction, make sure to swap hands.
The forward stroke involves reaching as far forward as you can, submerging the blade into the water, pulling it back to your ankle, then lifting it out. For the reverse stroke, simply do the process in reverse.
Pro tip: Don’t rely solely on your arms. Twist from your torso as you paddle. It’s a workout, yes, but if you do it often you can cancel that gym membership.
SUP Adventures: Because Variety is the Spice of Life
Once you’ve nailed the basics, why not shake things up? From SUP Yoga (say “Namaste” on the water!) to SUP surfing and white-water SUP, there’s a world of fun to be had. For those of you who really want to push the boat out, you can take advanced SUP courses to learn tricks and techniques, with prices ranging from £50 to £100. Or take your dog for SUPs and Pups, although use an older board so you don’t ruin anything new any shiny.
Pro tip: Challenge yourself by all means, but safety comes first. Make sure you’re well-equipped and prepared before venturing into advanced SUP waters.
Renting vs Buying a Paddleboard: The Million-Dollar Question
Not ready to commit to your own board? No problemo! Most SUP hotspots offer board rentals at around £10-£20 an hour.
But if you’ve fallen for the SUP life, you might want to think about getting your own board. Costs vary, with entry-level boards starting at around £300 and high-end boards reaching up to £2000.
Pro tip: They say never buy on a first date, and the same goes for your paddleboard. Try renting different types before you invest in one to see which one floats your boat… or, you know, board.
Choosing the Perfect Paddleboard
The size, shape, and material of a SUP board can significantly impact its performance and suitability for different activities or conditions. Here are some key considerations:
- Size: Larger boards offer more stability and are great for beginners or those intending to do SUP yoga. Smaller boards are more manoeuvrable and suited for SUP surfing or for kids.
- Shape: Wider boards are more stable but slower. Narrow boards are faster but require more skill to balance. If you’re doing long-distance touring or racing, go for a longer, narrower board.
- Material: Inflatable boards are easy to transport and store, plus they’re pretty tough. Solid boards, usually made of foam, fibreglass, or carbon fibre, offer better performance and manoeuvrability.
When it comes to popular manufacturers, here’s the tea:
- Red Paddle Co: Known for high-quality inflatable boards, Red Paddle Co is the cream of the crop. However, their prices are a bit steep – £920
- iRocker: Offering a great balance between quality and price, iRocker boards are a crowd favourite for beginners and intermediates – £730.00
- Bluefin Cruise: A great all-around inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board coming in at £474 – £799 which travels light & provides rigid stability
Popular Places to Learn SUP Near You
London – WakeUp Docklands: Conveniently located in the heart of the city, this watersports center offers SUP lessons and rentals. To get there, take the DLR to Royal Victoria station. From there, it’s a leisurely 5-minute walk.
Manchester – Helly Hansen Watersports Centre: Found in Salford Quays, it provides SUP experiences with qualified instructors. Catch the Metrolink to MediaCityUK or Harbour City stop, and you’ll be just a stone’s throw away from the center.
Birmingham – Edgbaston Reservoir: This tranquil site offers calm waters for SUP beginners, with gear rental available on-site. Take a bus or taxi from Birmingham New Street Station; it’s only a 10-minute journey.
Edinburgh – Port Edgar Watersports: Positioned beautifully by the Forth bridges, this spot offers SUP lessons with striking views. Hop on a train to Dalmeny Station from Edinburgh Waverley, and then it’s just a short taxi ride or a 15-minute walk to the marina.
There you have it – your introduction to the relaxing, rewarding world of Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Just remember, whether you’re gliding like a swan or wobbling like a duckling, it’s all about enjoying the journey. So, paddle on and let the good times roll!
I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.
For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.