A beginner’s guide to the fun sport of stand up paddle boarding By Kerri Parker
The world of Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is often met with admiration and enthusiasm; especially while watching a SUP expert traverse calm waters into a distant sunset. SUP has become a popular watersport over the last decade. Ask any local and they will probably tell you not only how many boards they own, but the different brands, and why they choose to own more than one board or certain paddles. To the average guest visiting Seaside on vacation, the SUP world can be overwhelming. Fun to watch, but do you dare take the challenge?
Top 10 Things to Know SUP
1. If you have never tried SUP before, choose a flat-water time of day. Thankfully, most mornings offer the calmest waters of the day. You will appreciate being able to do the fundamentals of SUP, like standing up. Believe it or not, paddling on your knees is harder than standing.
2. Your paddle is adjustable. Make sure to adjust your paddle to your height. Use your hand and spread out your fingers vertically on top of your head. The thumb to pinky at full width is the exact measurement of where your paddle handle should be situated.
3. Find the handle on your board. Most boards have a center handle of different sorts; that is about where you should stand for the most stable position.
4. Aside from a life jacket, always wear an ankle leash with your board. If you happen to fall off your board, your leash will keep you and your board attached.
5. Everyone is a little different on the mount, but once you mount to your knees, take note of your feet and position them about center, shoulder distance apart and stand with your paddle in hand.
6. As soon as you stand up, wiggle your toes a bit. The initial reaction for a novice is to clench their toes on the board. Relax your toes. Relax your toes. Relax your toes!
7. Get your hand placement right by placing the paddle on top of your head horizontally, holding the paddle with both hands. Use the 90-degree rule, you will find the exact distance to keep your hands from the handle to the shaft. This takes time to master, but it will make you a more efficient paddler.
8. Take note of the front of the board. Be sure to start your stoke by sinking your paddle from the front of the board and fully immersing the paddle to the shaft, and use your core to pull it back to you. At the end of the stroke, you should flail out your paddle just slightly, to create an easy transition for the next stroke. Stoke side to side to steer.
9. Don’t forget to look up. You might be wrapped up in the perfection of your stroke- or mesmerized by crystal-clear water. Either way, don’t forget to look up.
10. Keep the shoreline in view. SUP is an awesome experience. Make sure to gauge how far you have gone. Choose a landmark and stay in safe proximity to the shoreline.
With these few tips you should be able to enjoy SUP like a pro while on vacation.
SUP rentals are in Seaside, offered by the Cabana Man. If you are interested in renting by the hour, day or week, stop by the beach or call (850) 231-5046.
Kerri Parker is a certified RUN/SUP instructor.