What you need…
Right – let’s get you started, what gear will you need when you’re ready to take the plunge.
- A Stand Up Paddle Board (borrow one if you have to…or come along to one of our MeetUp Days)
- A Paddle (same as above….)
- Protection for both
- A Leg Rope or Leash
- Water – lake, river, somewhere flat to start with
What should I know about the Boards? Does size matter?
11′ to 12’6 (Cruiser style)
- Should be at least 30 inches wide for added stability especially for first time riders. Great for riders weighing over 100 kgs as they have added volume. Nose riding or cross stepping on these boards are ideal. When the wind picks up great for down winders. As you progress, or when the surf picks up to say 4-6 ft, you’re going to want to have a board that will be able to hold a rail and not nosedive as much as the larger “Cruiser” type boards.
9′ 6 to 10’6 boards.
Choices of boards in these sizes will depend on your weight, for example if you are 100kg+, you’re going to want a board with more volume (10’6x 30 inches wide), and if you’re a lighter rider, you’ll be able to get away with a smaller (9ft6 x 28 inch wide) board. In this range Tail configurations and fin set ups will change between, swallow, round and square with quad, thruster twin or single fins.
8′ to 9′ boards
Many manufacturers are developing smaller and smaller boards as the sport progresses. These are generally 30 inches wide and more “fish” type of design. Great option if you’re going to be riding smaller waves and want something that turns quick. These smaller boards are sometimes more unstable and can be harder to ride especially in choppier waters so possibly a good second board option.
11′ 3 – 13′ (Big Wave Guns)
When you’re ready for some larger surf. These boards are narrower (27-28 inches wide) so more difficult to ride but allow for better control especially on big wave faces where there is more apparent wind and larger chop on the face.
14′ to 18′ (Race Boards or Downwinders)
As the wind picks up you’re going to want to try your hand at some downwind racing. Race boards are designed specifically for open ocean racing or flat water paddling on dams or rivers. These boards are typically narrower and often have a rudder type of fin set up for enhanced steering abilities.
What about Leashes/Leg Ropes?
Choosing the right leash is as important as choosing the right board – a leash that is too short could result in the board shooting back after a wipeout and piercing you. At the same time a shorter leash also prevents you from getting up on the front when nose-riding. A leash too thin will snap under pressure due to the added weight of the larger SUP boards. So we recommend purchasing a leash minimum 10ft x ¼ inch.
What about Paddles – what do I look for?
There are about as many paddles on the market as there are boards, so the wide range can easily confuse the average customer. There are wood paddles, fibreglass, carbon, plastic and aluminium paddles. Each one with its own price point which will ultimately determine your paddle of choice. Generally a SUP paddle will be part of your equipment much longer than a board so we suggest investing in a higher end paddle from the start.
Carbon is generally stiffer and will be stronger but slightly more expensive. Fibreglass shafts are an excellent option as they can be strong enough yet quite a bit less expensive.
Blade shape and the blades angle are the most important aspects. Blade Width is once again personal preference and range between 7 and 9 1/2 inches. Narrower blades will allow for quicker strokes and wider blades stronger more powerful strokes.
Paddle length – Rule of thumb is to have a paddle that is 6 to 8 inches above your head. Once you improve you can shorten the paddle for faster hand to hand transitions especially in the surf. For racing it is recommended to have a longer paddle than when wave riding.