You’ve probably watched a paddle boarder glide peacefully along the water and thought to yourself, that looks awesome, I wish I could do it.
What’s stopping you? You can DEFINITELY do it and by following these top tips for getting started, you’ll soon be gliding past other envious onlookers admiring your style!
- Leash it or lose it
Regardless of the conditions – even if there’s no wind and the water is like a mirror – using a leash is vital. In fact, a leash is arguably the most important piece of safety equipment you’ll have (for your own safety and for the safety of others in the water) but it is important to have the right one and to attach it properly.
- Choose the right board
You don’t need much to get started with paddleboarding, but if you want to make good progress and have max fun, then you need to start off with a board that’s right for you. You need to choose the right thickness and length for your body type and height – and as a rule of thumb, a thick and wide board will make balancing easier. However, the design of the board plays the biggest part in stability so it’s in your best interests to hire a board from a reputable surf shop in Perth so that you get expert advice upfront.
- Find the front
To the novice, the front (or nose) of a SUP board is not always immediately apparent, especially as many beginner boards are wide at both ends for greater stability. The fin is your guide here – it should always be at the back. But remember to protect the fin, and take care in very shallow waters.
- Paddle perfect
Make sure you get the right paddle length to prevent you from stooping and over-balancing. A general rule is to choose a paddle that’s about 25cm taller than your height and keep your hands on the paddle about shoulder-width apart.
- How to stand
To get up on your board, start on your knees. When you’ve gained a bit of confidence, you can then stand up – keeping your feet about hip distance apart and parallel to one another.
- Keep Your Head Up
It’s instinctive to look downwards when you first start paddleboarding, but you’ll find that looking straight in front of you will actually give you more stability and help keep you on the water, not in it! Keep your head up, straighten your back, knees slightly bent, bodyweight mainly on the balls of your feet and focus your eyes on something ahead of you.
- More core
Many beginners make the mistake of trying to paddle with their arms. In fact, it’s your core that needs to do the work because that’s where your strength and stability come from. Have a look at some YouTube videos before jumping on a board for the first time or better still, sign up for some SUP lessons and get personal instruction from an expert. If you’re looking for a surf shop in Perth and wanting some top notch advice on hiring or buying SUP boards and tuition, the friendly team at www.standupsurfshop.com.au has all the answers.
- Learn to fall
Falling off is part and parcel of learning this awesome sport, and it’s really important to know HOW to fall safely. A paddleboard is a big piece of equipment and you want to avoid being hit when you fall. Practise falling AWAY from the board, shifting your weight to one side and pushing off with your legs. This will also help prevent the board from flipping over. Also try and hang onto your paddle as you fall (your leash will prevent the board from going anywhere).
- Know the conditions and plan your route
Beginners should always start out in a flat body of water and in mild weather conditions. Always check out the weather report before you start and plan your route carefully – and always start off by going INTO the wind. A good rule is to only go half the distance you think you can go until you have a better idea of your stamina and endurance (and ability!). Winds and tides can turn quickly and you don’t want to get caught out. Another good tip for beginners is to hug the shoreline and stay in shallow water, so that when (not if!) you fall, it’ll be easier to get back on the board.
- Stay out of the way
Make sure you have plenty of room when you’re starting out so that you don’t get in the way of other water users. You want to build confidence and have plenty of space to practise getting on and off the board, falling, turning etc without worrying about others around you.
- Paddle correctly
Paddle blades are spoon-shaped and while it may seem counter-intuitive, the right way is to hold the paddle with the back of the ‘spoon’ facing the front. If you’re paddling on the left side, place your right hand on the top of the paddle with your left one below it, about shoulder-width apart and keep your top arm straight. Do the opposite when you’re paddling on the right side. Submerge your entire paddle blade in the water and take short, strong strokes – about four or five each side.
Stand-up paddleboarding is one of the most beginner-friendly watersports around, and Perth has some of the most perfect places for getting started. If you want some more info on where to surf in Perth and how to go about it, visit www.standupsurfshop.com.au and chat to one of their friendly and experienced professionals.