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Equipment Basics

SUP Paddle Board Selection

Stand up paddle boards and paddles come in a wide range of styles for virtually all types of water conditions and lifestyle considerations. Here are some tips we've gathered from a variety of sources with experience in paddling conditions that appeal to mountain SUP boarders.

1. Size for Your Weight
 
Sizing is important to your ultimate enjoyment of SUPing but going too small can cause problem. The rule of thumb is to be at full paddling speed and not have the tail of your board drag. By stepping forward a bit you can make the tail "release", but if the board is too small your nose will dive. Observe paddlers in your weight range and watch for tail turbulence and the trim of their board when paddling on flatwater. Most 11' boards are currently around 28" wide and 4 1/4" thick, or 12' boards that are 30" wide and 4 1/2" thick. The flotation is calcuated by taking the length, width and thickness of the board.
 
Of course trying a selection of boards with the advice of an experienced SUP boarder is always a good idea.
 
2. Size for the Type of SUPing
 
There are three basic types of water conditions: flatwater, whitewater and surf. Flatwater SUPing is the great for checking for tail turbulence and board trim. You can see your wake and hear the turbulence. You can trim a board that is too small fairly easily but this won't work for all conditions.
The size and weight recommendations above work well for flatwater SUPing.
 
Whitewater is unpredictable. A board that seemed fine in flatwater will seem too small and unstable. A bigger board is usually recommended for whitewater plus they are typically constructed specifically for whitewater. Longer boards provide more stability. Builders like Glide have revolutionized whitewater SUPing with designs specifically for whitewater and river running.
 
Speed and stability are a must for surfing actions like paddling-out and catching waves. Once you're on a wave, maneuverability and performance are key which favors smaller boards. Bginning surf paddlers can use the same board they might use in whitewater and move down from there.
 
Longer boards will let you catch waves easier and keep falling to a minimum. Most 11' and 12' boards like those from Doyle and Surftech work fine for paddle surfing. Paddle surfers will usually graduate to shorter boards in the 9 foot 6 to 10 foot 6 range.
 
Another factor to consider is whether or not you will be using your board for extended paddling trips or expeditions.
 
3. Size for your Lifestyle
 
There are many other things you do with your board other than paddling it. You have to carry it, hoist it over your head to load it and store it. There are lots of accessories that will help you and enjoy the experience in the process.

As an example, if you can't handle a board when the wind blows or when you have to carry it, you're better off getting a paddle board with a built-in hand hold or using a handle kit. Smaller boards from builders like Doyle and Surftech are lightweight with have thinner rails. This makes them easier to handle out of the water. These are popular with women even though you may give up a little glide with smaller boards. 

SUP Paddle SIzing and Selection

The proper form for paddle surfing requires a paddle of the correct length and size. A common rule of thumb is a "shaka” length, or 5 to 7 inches, above the rider's height. While standing on board, the rider holds the paddle with one hand on the handle and the other hand approximately 1/3 of the way down the shaft. The hand placement alternates depending on what side the rider is paddling on.
 
When paddling on the right side the handle is held with the left hand and the shaft with the right, vice versus on the left side. When paddling, the blade is placed in the water 1 to 2 feet in front of the rider. The paddle is then pulled through the water with a motion similar to the rider punching with the top hand. The motion is continued until the blade is pulled through the water to a point approximately 6 inches to a foot behind the rider's body.
 
 
 

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Tags: sup  paddle  board  intro  sizing 


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