If you're new to the world of water sports, there are many things you'll need to learn. There are tonnes of water sports to choose from. And, in a country surrounded by water like the UK, it makes a lot of sense to choose a water sport, whether it's sailing, swimming, surfing, kayaking or something completely different.
There are almost limitless opportunities to find an activity that suits you, your family and your own personal disposition. In recent years, a particular form of sport has gained ground - not only in the UK, but around the world.
Paddleboarding has come to dominate the world's beaches, fjords, oceans and rivers, and there are plenty of good reasons why.
Most of us know of the surfboard as the sport has been around for many years. Despite the paddleboard's burgeoning popularity, the term may still be unknown to many. This is certainly not made easier by the existence of several names for the same thing, such as:
These names all refer to the same thing. If you've heard of SUP, then you've also heard of
When it comes to SUP boards, you can either get yourself a hard board or an inflatable stand up paddleboard. Hard boards are often used by people who live near a body of water or by the various rental companies that hire out boards to tourists and to those wanting to try the sport.
Fortunately, the hard version is not necessarily any better than the inflatable one.
The paddleboard first saw the light of day in Hawaii. It evolved from the surfboard, but the difference with paddleboarding is that you don't just lie on the board waiting for the next wave to come.
On a paddleboard, you stand up and propel yourself forward using a paddle. It's up to you to decide how challenging your trip will be. For this reason especially, this form of exercise has found its way to the UK all the way from Hawaii. It lends itself well to the UK's climate and is incredibly versatile.
Length, width and weight are the most important parameters to consider when choosing your board. But, naturally, it doesn't end there. Different models serve different purposes, so there will definitely be a board out there to suit your needs.
They are often divided into categories like the following:
If waves are your thing, you'll be drawn to the sea and the waves that follow. Your paddleboard will have to be suited for these conditions. There are tonnes of models on the market specially designed for waves.
These boards are wider and smaller than ordinary boards, giving you everything you need to go out and dance with the waves.
If it's speed you're after, you'll need a narrow, long board. This'll allow you to race over flat waters. If you're into long distance, a racing board will be perfect for you. These also appear under the name of 'touring' boards, and there are many different such models.
Racing or touring boards are a great alternative to going for a run or going on a kayak trip.
It's in the name: an all-round board does a little bit of everything. It's a board designed to perform aspects of everything you might use it for. It's stable, floats well in still water, and can also handle a wave or two.
If you can't make up your mind, you could certainly go with this model.
When it comes to inflatable paddleboards, there are pros and cons. This type of paddleboard has helped revolutionise the entire industry, making the sport far more accessible than before inflatables made their debut.
This is due to the fact that beginners now have a board available to them that is significantly cheaper than hard boards. As a result, you're not nearly as committed to the sport as you would be if you'd invested a lot of money in it. You have, so to speak, a cheap way in. It's also a real perk that you're able to deflate the board and save space in your home, your bag or your car. Many of us aren't really able to transport or store a large board
with a fixed shape.
The inflatable board is softer so it doesn't hurt so much when you fall on it, while at the same time actually being durable – though, naturally, it is possible it could get a puncture.
The main disadvantage is that the material is not nearly as high quality as that of fixed boards. It consists of plastic and air, and there's a limit as to how much you can advance on this board.
Paddleboarding is undoubtedly a good form of exercise. It's physically demanding, keeps you fit and improves your balance. Paddleboarding allows you to train cardio as well as your muscles, so one single trip will result in a really good workout.
If you're tired of standing on the same cross trainer and lifting the same dumbbells at the gym, paddleboarding would be a great alternative.
It's great exercise that also lets you get some fresh air out in nature. Not only that, but it can also boost your mental well-being, which is another important aspect to bear in mind.
When it comes to paddleboarding workouts and activities, you're limited purely by your imagination. A paddleboard can be used to go surfing, and you can "race" against your friends over long distances.
You can also gently paddle to your heart's content as the sun rises, or do some yoga
with the water underfoot.
Once you're familiar with your board, you get decide for yourself what to do with it. After becoming more experienced with your board, you'll also find that your balance and core strength have gotten stronger, making you better able to take solid-ground activities out onto the water.
So, you've followed all the right advice and gotten yourself a paddleboard. So, what now? How do you get started? Paddleboarding is a bit like cycling: once you've learnt how to do it, you'll never forget.
But how did you learn to ride a bike? Here are some general rules of thumb that you can follow to get out on the water.
Four rules that make a world of difference:
Placing the paddle in the water
As mentioned, standing up on a paddle board isn't rocket science, but with slight adjustments you can make it significantly easier for yourself. For example, there are different ways in which to place your paddle in the water.
Make sure the entire head of your paddle is under water before you start paddling.
This'll ensure stability and good contact with the water, two particularly important things when paddleboarding.
If you have any experience with skateboarding, snowboarding or other forms of exercise that resemble paddleboarding, you'll also know that it is important to maintain the right body position. On a paddleboard, it is important to position yourself with your legs shoulder-width apart.
Then, make sure your knees are slightly bent and your back is straight. Bending your knees will help you keep your balance more easily. Keeping a straight back will strengthen your core, which is important when paddleboarding.
The right technique isn't possible to master from day one. Technique is something that has to be trained. As a result, keep in mind that you shouldn't only use your arms to propel yourself along. Make sure to activate your whole body as per the guidelines above.
The better your technique gets, the more of a difference you'll notice and the better you'll get at making use of your whole body.
The same goes for the balance. It's not just something you can do straight away, unless you have experience from similar sports. Work on your balance. Because when you manage to keep your paddleboard level in the water, you'll find propulsion significantly better and more effective.
Balance is the key to a great paddleboarding experience.
Don't try to master all the rules at once. Few people will succeed. Instead, each time you head out on your board, focus on improving on each one of these rules at a time. That way, you'll find yourself becoming more and more in tune with the water and your paddleboard.
Now, you may well think that the weather doesn't fall into the category of "equipment", and we get that. However, it's always a good idea to keep a close
eye on the weather forecast before heading out on the water.
British weather can be pretty changeable, and just because the sky is cloudless when you first head out to the water with your paddleboard under arm, doesn't mean that it won't necessarily be windy and cloudy half an hour later.
As a result, we really recommend you install a weather app on your phone so that you're always up to date on the latest weather forecast before you head out. A weather app is a great tool that you'd do well to make a habit of checking.