Here are 12 stand up paddling safety tips for beginner paddlers.
Paddle in Flat Water
Choose a SUP location with flat water. Rivers and lakes are ideal. Know the location, its associated hazards. Stay away from boats, moorings, submerged tree branches or anything that you could fall onto.
If you are new to paddling, do not go out into the waves. It is very dangerous and only for experienced paddlers. Stay in flat, calm waters.
Always Wear Your Leash
Your leash is your lifeline. It attaches to your ankle and the board. Wear it all times. SUP boards travel very easily and fast over the water. If you fall off your SUP board, it could mean a long swim to retrieve your board. If you have your leash on, your board will stay close to you.
Someone told me leashes are dangerous. NO, that is not true. You must know how to use the leash correctly.
Use a coiled leash only, so it does not drag on the water and risk becoming entangled with weed or branches.
Stay away from water hazards such as weeds and branches and other underwater obstructions.
Know how to use the quick release on your leash.
Understand Weather Conditions
Don’t paddle out if it’s windy. Wind can easily blow you far away from your starting location and it is very difficult to paddle against the wind. You will soon tire yourself out.
Check weather conditions before you go out. The wind could change from one second to the other and you will struggle getting back to your starting location. As you spend more time on your SUP you will be able to assess the weather more accurately.
Avoid Fast Flowing Water
Only go out in still, slow moving water. Flowing water makes it difficult to paddle and can carry you far away. You can become tired quickly if you have to paddle against flowing water.
Stay Close to Shore
You can travel quite fast whilst supping and before you know it, you can be a long way from the shore. If you tire out, you don’t want a long way to paddle back to shore. Always keep a watch on the shoreline, and change direction regularly, to make sure you are close.
Kneel / Sit Down
If hazards are close by, or you are feeling unsteady, paddle on your knees or on your bum. This lowers your centre of balance and you have less risk of falling off and onto the hazards.
Have 360 Degree Awareness
Whilst out on the water, have constant awareness, watch out for other water crafts such as jetski’s, boats and other water users. Stay away from them to avoid collisions.
Paddle with a Buddy
Go out with a partner, it is always good to have someone there to help you out if you need it. If paddling longer distances, alert the maritime authorities.
Only rent or hire SUP boards if you are experienced and know the local location. There are many locations not suitable for paddling that can have hidden dangers. Weather conditions can also be unpredictable in some locations. Only rent or hire boards from an accredited SUP School – they will give you safe paddling locations, proper weather information, and suitable and safe equipment.
Inflatable SUP Boards
These boards are quite strong but there is a possibility they could deflate or tear. If you are on an inflatable board, make sure you stay close to shore at all times. Just in case you have to swim to shore.
Avoid Muscle Injury
Even though SUP paddling looks easy, you need correct paddling technique to avoid repetitive muscle injury. Have lessons with an accredited SUP instructor to gain understanding of the correct paddling technique.
Be SUP Savvy
Knowing more about the sport will ensure you SUP safely. Take some stand up paddle lessons at an accredited SUP Schools with qualified instructors, and learn about water and weather conditions so you stay safe
Stand Up Paddle is a great past-time that can be enjoyed by all. The more educated you are about supping, the more fun, easier to do, and safer it is.