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Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Paddleboarding - All You Need to Know About Stand-Up Paddleboard

Information, tips, tricks, and requirements to get started on Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Like any new activity, beginning how to Stand-up Paddleboard can be intimidating for first-timers. However, this particular outdoor sport is relatively easy to learn, especially if you're using the best paddleboarding gears such as the Bluefin Paddleboards and SUP Boards that allow you to explore the waters from a whole new perspective.

Whether you're a beginner or an expert at paddleboarding, these paddleboards are built with stability, portability, and precision-paddling in mind to give you the best watersport experience.

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If you're ready to try your hand at paddleboarding, it's best to find out all the basic things first before you hit the water and stand up on your first board.

What Is Stand-Up Paddleboarding?

Stand-Up Paddleboarding is an outdoor watersports activity where a rider stands upright on a large board and uses a paddle to move over water. SUP is actually a subclass of paddleboarding, which includes the use of arms while lying, standing, or kneeling on a paddleboard to move around the water in any direction.

These days, there's plenty of variations of the sport that is widely practiced such as SUP Yoga, outdoor recreation, flatwater paddling, paddling for fitness or sightseeing, race paddling (on lakes, rivers, or large canals), long-distance SUP, and even fishing. It is a very dynamic and versatile sport that continues to grow in participation each year, from beginners to professional and recreational paddlers.

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Basic Things You'll Need for Paddleboarding

While paddleboarding doesn't require a lot to get you started with the sport, it will require a small financial investment on the basic equipment and safety gear, as well as the non-essential items and accessories, if you prefer a better experience.

1. Paddleboard

SUP paddleboards come in different shapes and sizes. Their design depends on suiting various water conditions, purposes, and skill levels. Paddleboards are generally eight to 12 feet long and 28 to 34 inches wide. The bigger the board, the more it will be stable.

Beginners should look for something wider and longer. The ideal size for first-timers should be something between 9 to 12 feet long, and over 30 inches wide. SUP Paddleboards also come in 3 different types: all-around, flatwater, and surf paddleboards.

a. All-around paddleboards are the best option for beginners since most first-timers will most likely start in calm waters. They are also longer, thicker, and more stable. They are built with nice, rounded noses and are good for flatwater or open-ocean paddling.

b. Flatwater paddleboards are another good option and are ideal for calmer waters such as lakes, rivers, and tamer open-ocean paddling. They have wider deck pads to provide better stability. These are often preferred for Yoga and Fishing SUPs. Flatwater boards glide smoothly and are suitable for either beginners or professional paddlers.

c. Surf Paddleboards are best for touring and racing. The board's design features a narrow nose that is built to efficiently displace or cut through the water. It's longer, and more pointed design is made specifically for surf and is a better option for a more experienced paddler.

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Paddleboards also come in two types of materials: solid or inflatable.

Inflatable paddleboards are lighter, in terms of weight. They also have an advantage when it comes to portability and storage and can be a consideration for those who have limited storage or transport options.

Solid paddleboards, on the other hand, offer more durability and better performance. They are sturdier and more accessible since there's no need to inflate the board before hitting the water.

2. SUP Paddle

While you can have the best paddleboard out there, but without the right paddle, you won't have an enjoyable, smooth paddling experience. Getting a good kind of paddle means selecting something that works well with your body and paddling style.

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Consider these factors when choosing the proper SUP paddle for you:

a. Length. Having the right size of the paddle is key to maintaining your proper form when paddling. Your paddle should be six to 12 inches taller than you. Longer paddles are better for flatwater paddling, while shorter paddles work well for surf paddling.

b. Material. The weight and stiffness of your paddle depend on the material used to build it. For example, paddles constructed with plastic and aluminum are heavier compared to those made with carbon fiber and fiberglass. It's also important to note that, in general, the lighter the weight of the paddle, the more expensive it will be.

c. Blade Size, Shape, and Offset. How the blade moves through the water is determined by the size, shape, and the offset of the paddle blade. Your choice of the blade should be based on your force, your body type, the type of paddling you will do, and personal preferences. Generally, the larger you are, the bigger you'd want your paddle blade to be.

The bottom line in choosing the right kind of SUP paddle for you is finding one that suits your type of paddling, obtaining a blade size that matches your power needs, getting the correct type of length, and picking the materials that are amenable to your performance needs and wallet.

3. PFD (Personal Floatation Device or a Life Jacket)

Having a personal floatation device, such as a life jacket, is essential for safety measures. It is always recommended that all paddlers wear a PFD and, in many places, are even required by law.

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There are a few types of PFDs available in the market today, which include life jackets, inflatables, and waist-belt inflatables. Since most life jackets are bulky and make it more difficult to paddle, waist-belt types are the PFD of choice for SUP paddlers, as they don't interfere with their motions.

4. Leash

All paddleboards should be equipped with a leash, and if it doesn't have it, you should consider buying one. A leash attaches the board to the paddler and is vital for your safety. It helps you stay connected to the board in case you were to fall off. It also prevents your board from floating away in case you decide to go for a swim.

There are also different types of leashes which are designed for river, flatwater or surf use, so make sure that you have the right one which is suitable for your needs.

5. Recommended Personal Items

Some other things to consider having to help you keep safe in the water are:

a. Protective Gear and Clothing. Since paddleboarding is an outdoor activity most commonly enjoyed in daylight, suiting up with the right clothing is critical to protect against the harmful rays of the sun.

The clothes you wear while paddleboarding depends on the temperature and condition of your environment. For warmer weather, swimwear and rashguards are an excellent option, as well as non-cotton shorts, tanks, and tees. You may also want to consider wearing hats and sunglasses for good measure.

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Some paddlers even opt for a full wet suit, but this is not required. For colder environments, fleece and neoprene material clothing are a good option since this will keep you warm even when it gets wet.

b. Sunblock and Sunscreen. Avoid the effects of the harmful rays of the sun by wearing these protective products.

c. First Aid Kit/Whistle/Compass/Flashlight or Headlamp. In the event of getting lost or having an accident, having these items can be helpful when unexpectedly getting into a dangerous situation.

d. Water and Food. Like in any other outdoor activity, it's always a good idea to have food and water with you. Snacks such as trail mix and other food items that are easy to carry will work well. Having food and water is vital just in case you run into an unexpected scenario such as being stranded due to weather or having damage on your board.

e. Other Optional Items include Dry Bags to protect your things like mobile phones, clothing, and cameras. You may also consider getting a board bag if you're traveling with a solid board. For attaching stuff on your board like cameras to fishing rods, consider getting the proper mounting system before going on your paddleboarding trip.

Basic Stand-Up Paddleboarding Technique

The most fundamental technique you need to know about SUP mainly includes launching your board in the water, standing up, and doing paddle strokes.

Learning techniques from a trained instructor by joining a tour or enlisting in a course are encouraged for beginners. You can also learn paddleboarding by watching videos online if the previous options are not viable for you.

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1. Start by kneeling in the middle of your board on shallow waters.

2. Paddle out to deeper water, place the paddle across your board and begin to stand up by placing your feet where your knees were positioned.

3. Your standing position should be with your feet parallel, facing forward. Your knees should be slightly bent, your back should be straight, and you're looking straight towards the horizon.

4. Hold the paddle firmly with one hand on the end of the shaft, and the other hand halfway down the handle.

5. When paddling, the force should be coming from your core. Paddle with straight arms to achieve balance. To maintain a straight line, switch hand positions, and paddle on the opposite side of the board after every few motions.

6. You can turn by paddling on the same side numerous times. Turning can be more comfortable and easier by rotating your torso as you paddle.

7. If you think you're going to fall, it is best to try to fall away from your board to avoid hitting it.

8. If you fell, get back on your board by grabbing it, allowing your legs to float to the surface, kicking your legs while pulling the board under you until you're able to get back on the kneeling position.

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Planning Your Trip

There are a few considerations when planning your trip for a SUP activity. Things you will want to consider for a safe journey include the following:

1. Weather and water conditions

2. Potential hazards (wind and wave predictions, currents, rapids, etc.)

3. Navigation

4. Availability and proximity to health and emergency services

5. Informing other people about your plans: This includes where you're going, how long you will be gone, what clothes you're wearing, and who you are traveling with.

For beginners, it is always recommended to begin paddleboarding on calm and small bodies of water in warm conditions. Starting this way will allow you to be able to practice smoothly and focus on building up your paddleboarding skills.

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Final Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a fun, alternative way of enjoying the water outdoors compared to more extreme sports like surfing, for example. Not everyone can stay on a surfboard or do a wakeboard backflip just to experience the thrill of the waters. SUP is not so extreme as to draw away more timid individuals. Even older kids as young as 12 years old can enjoy Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

When starting on paddleboarding, go on short trips in familiar waters. Build upon your necessary skills before tackling the more challenging types of SUP such as racing, touring, or surfing. Try to experience the activity with a buddy and have someone learn the sport together.

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Lastly, get familiar with your gear. You can do this on land before you hit the waters by standing on your paddleboard and practicing on the correct way of holding your paddle and maintaining your posture.

Gear rentals are a great option, too, if you aren't in a position yet to buy a stand-up paddleboard. But if you're committed to learning the sport, Bluefin Paddleboards offers some of the best SUP Paddleboards in the market today. They also provide the most all-inclusive SUP board package, which fits everything in a high-quality backpack for optimum portability of your equipment.

If Stand-Up Paddling is something you've been considering to try, this guide should give you the basic knowledge and tips you need to jump in the water finally. Happy Paddling!

Browse a great selection of high-quality designed paddleboards by Bluefin and start your journey to paddleboarding today.

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