Summer 2012′s here at last, and there’s no better time to get into the rapidly growing sport of stand-up paddleboarding (a.k.a. paddlesurfing, or SUP for short). Initially seen as a light wind alternative to windsurfing, paddling has quickly extended its appeal well beyond windsports. It’s a low cost, hassle-free introduction to watersports. A great way of keeping in shape, it works your core, improves strength and conditioning, and even cardiovascular fitness. But equally, it’s a mellow way to unwind, improve your balance and board skills, and simply have some fun out on the water.
If you’re thinking of giving paddlesurfing a go this summer, here’s how to: our three steps to SUP heaven…
1 – Get Kitted Out
One of the joys of SUP is its simplicity – all you need is a board and a paddle and you’re ready to go… (And if you don’t have them already, you might also appreciate a wetsuit if the water’s cold, and a surf-leash to attach to your board.) Wet’n'Dry stock two of the UK’s biggest board brands and have some top value recommendations for typical Essex conditions.
The 2012 Starboard Atlas 12′ in super-tough Slick construction is a great family or beginner’s board, yet also a very competent flat-water cruiser offering effortless glide. 33″ wide, it has a full soft deckpad, high-density PVA rails, and will accept a windsurfing mastbase.
The 2012 Starboard Whopper 10′, also in super-tough Slick construction, is short enough to fit into most vans yet super-stable at 34″ wide. While perfectly at home for beginners on flat water and still windsurf-capable, it offers good crossover into waves and surfing.
Or if space is tight, take a look at the Red Paddle Co Eleven Air – an 11′ inflatable paddleboard that’s easy to store, totally ding-proof and perfect for travelling, yet with surprisingly good performance.
2 – Choose Your Moment
Ideally pick a calm, sunny day, and flat water. There are dozens of paddle spots within 20-minutes of Wet’n'Dry Boardsports near Basildon: the sea, lakes, rivers, canals… Basically, wherever there’s water you can paddle it. You can SUP when it’s windy, but (just like riding a bike) it’s a lot easier if it’s not blowing. Once you’re comfortable on a board, you’ll soon be paddling in choppier water, waves, and even surf: at breaks all around Britain, paddlesurfers catch way more waves than regular surfers!
3 – Stand Up and Paddle!
If you’re used to boardsports, it could be as simple as that. But even if you’ve never stood on a board in your life, within half an hour you should be happy paddling around. To begin with, kneel in the middle of the board, take a few strokes to get going, and find your balance. Once moving, get to your feet, stand tall, and keep paddling. Change sides every few strokes to stay in a straight line, keep paddling on one side to turn. With a bit of instruction, you’ll soon learn more advanced paddling, stance and turning techniques – click here for details of SUP Tuition at Wet’n'Dry Boardsports and check out this basics movie from John Hibbard at SUP UK.
SUP is different things to different people. For many it’s enough just to get out onto the water more regularly. Others do it as part of their fitness regime: paddling will improve your core stability, provide a full body workout, and cardiovascular session all in one – and you can work as hard (or easy) as you like. Once you’re happy on a board, you can cruise a little further afield: maybe paddle up to the pub, plan a route around an island, or if the tide’s out go seal-spotting in estuary? If you want to get competitive, the British Stand Up Paddle Association run a whole series of race events around the country. Or if you want to get into the surf, catching and riding waves is so much easier when you’re already standing up…