Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP): How to Get Started
Interested in getting started with the fast-growing sport of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP or SUP-ing) but not sure how to get started? We have written this guide to help get you started and included some great links to SUP resources and clubs at the bottom.
Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing sports on the water and it is a fun, easy way to get out on the water and have a play. The boards can be great ‘all-rounders’ and many SUP owners taking their kids, dogs or both out on the board with them. As more and more SUP groups and clubs start up around Australia in can also be a very social sport, so whether you want to: catch a wave, paddle a river or just hang out at the beach, with a minimum of equipment you can get going. Since you also stand at full height on a paddle-board it is also a great way to check out the action both on and under the water.
What you will need to get started Stand Up Paddleboarding:
Stand up paddleboard: The board itself is your starting point. There are a variety on offer in Australia and it is well worth having a chat to a retailer to learn more about the different options. Quality varies significantly, as does durability – so consider how often and for how many years you may want to use your board. Before making the investment there is also the option of checking out whether there are hire boards available locally, your local surf store or SUP club might be able to help you out or point you in the right direction.
There are different size, material and shape options for boards and what you choose will be based on: height and weight, how you will use it and also your experience level. Novice paddlers may choose wider, flatter boards, that offer more stability initially. There are also inflatable SUP options.
Paddle: The paddle is your power source – you can choose between a variety of shapes, fixed or adjustable length and different construction materials. Carbon fibre are the lightest which saves your arms, but they are more expensive than aluminium paddles with plastic blades.
Roof racks: Unless you own a van or station wagon, your board will probably be transported on the roof. There are the more permanent type of roof racks (like Rhino Racks) or you can get soft roof racks for around $100 that you take on and off your car each use.
As always, with any water sport you will want to consider a range of clothing / thermal protection depending on where you are paddling. Camelbacks are also popular for carrying small items (waterproof cameras, phones in waterproof housings, suncream, etc.) for longer paddles and rash shirts or wetsuits can help for sun protection.
Your local club or a mate are a great way to get introduced to the finer points. But for those that just want to put it in the water and go, it is recommended to watch a few videos on technique (see links below) and remember to pay attention to prevailing weather conditions and currents. It’s also a good idea to stick close to shore until you have your confidence and experience up.
When you’re learning it is easiest to start out in protected (from the wind), calm water where you can stay out of the way of boating traffic and swimmers.
To get familiar with the feel of the board it is easier to kneel, then once you are starting to feel balanced, try to stand up. Most paddleboards have a handle built-in and this will be at the centre-point (weight-wise) of the board. Pop yourself onto the board into a kneeling position, just behind the centre-point of the board. Once you are ready to stand up on the board, place one foot at a time where your knees were (this will get your weight in the right place). Once standing, get your paddle in the water quickly as it is an extra balancing point. (Safety tip: always be careful where the t-grip on the end of your paddle is, it is a good idea to have a hand on this at all time to avoid whacking a friend in the head with it). Just like when you ride a bike, it is harder to keep a stationary paddle-board stable, so start paddling!
Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centered between the board edges with toes pointing forward, knees slightly bent and your back straight. Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight to keep balanced by moving your hips. If your gaze is focused on the horizon it is easier to balance, then if they are focusing on your feet.
SUP Australia - the peak body for stand up paddle-boarding in Australia.
SUP Mag – Stand up paddle-boarding magazine