Just got to wondering and realized that paddle surfing is bringing a whole new demographic into the world of surfing so with that, it’s my guess is there’s going to be a lot of unexpected surprises for those new to the sport.
So with that in mind, I decided to put together a few of the things you probably wouldn’t know either without prior experience or a friend’s guidance…
- These boards are big: Be sure to consider your storage availability before going out and getting that 11’6 paddleboard. For instance, a lot of city apartment and townhome dwellers are either limited by storage constraints, or will have an awkward time manoevering a paddleboard in and out of their suites. These things aren’t going to fit in your elevator!
- Headwinds suck ass: I haven’t done any sort of empirical testing to support this claim but I’m guessing that for beginners, paddling into a headwind is approximately 73 times harder and 48 times slower than paddling in calm conditions. Trust me, if you’re just getting started with SUP, find a nice, calm day. Tailwinds on the other hand are all gooooood! 🙂
- Protect them rails: Seems easy to say “yeah, I just won’t hit the side of the board with my paddle” but trust us… It happens way more than you’d think, say for instance when an unexpected swell pushes the paddle into the board. Sometimes you’ll also want to purposefully drag the paddle against the rail, so whether it’s a paddle guard (plastic beading for the edge of the paddle), rail tape (heavy duty tape that’s installed along each rail) or both (which is what we typically suggest), be sure your board’s protected or it’s going to get beatered sooner than later.
- Waxing an (extra) longboard is a major pain: Surf wax feels just right on a traditional longboard or shortboard. It’s cheap, easy to apply and provides just the right feel for wave riding. But deck pads are definitely the way to go with flatwater paddle boards. Weight and feel are not as much of a concern on flatwater (these things are 4-5 inches thick so another 1/4 inch of decking isn’t going to make a huge difference and the added weight is really nominal) so the ease of maintenance (or shall I say lack thereof) simplifies the whole experience. Plus, if you’re touring on a hot summer day, it won’t take long for the wax to start melting off the deck if you don’t submerse the deck to cool it down every few minutes.Another big bonus is your feet will be a ton more comfortable standing for long stretches on a rubber mat, than the hard deck of a surfboard.Many SUP’s arrive from the factory with deck pads pre-installed but if not, after-market kits can be found at a good surf shop.
- Don’t buy a board for what you might do, buy it for what you will do. A lot of buyers make the mistake of buying a smaller board with the expectation that they might bring it over to Tofino. Consider what you’re most often going to be doing with the board. Worse comes to worst, we’ve been edging out of this recession quite nicely lately, so go ahead and snag a second board… One for flatwater and another for the waves.
- It’s a lot more fun that it looks. If you take a look at a photo of someone flatwater paddling, I’d have to agree it looks pretty lame, which is the response I get from a lot of my friends when trying to explain the sport… “So you just stand up on a big surfboard with a big ass canoe paddle, and just cruise around? Yay.”
Try it first, that is all.
That’s about all I got… Have more? Post ’em up in the comments below!