This summer our guided stand-up paddleboarding trips and SUP hire have proven incredibly popular – no surprise really with the incredible weather and conditions that we’ve had in Cornwall. Our guided sessions include instruction from our qualified staff, and every rental also includes a quick introduction to stand-up paddling as part of the safety brief, but for those who have been out with us and are now considering buying an SUP and setting out on your own, here are our five top tips for safe, efficient and enjoyable paddling:
ADJUST YOUR PADDLE TO THE CORRECT LENGTH
All of our paddles, and most entry-level paddles that come as part of a package, are adjustable. For regular paddling (on flat water, rather than for trying to surf) your paddle should be 6-8 inches longer than you are tall. This will allow you to generate the most power from your stroke, with minimal effort.
HOLD YOUR PADDLE THE RIGHT WAY ROUND
The blade on stand-up paddles are angled (called the “kickback angle”), and many beginners mistakenly hold the paddle so that the blade is angled back towards them under eh assumption that the paddle will “scoop” the water. The blade should actually be angled AWAY from the paddler (pointing towards the front/nose of the board) as this results in a smoother stroke and much more power being generated through the entirety of the stroke, particularly the middle section as the blade will be vertical as you pull it past you. Smoother, more powerful, and less stress on your shoulders can only be a good thing!
START (OR STAY) ON YOUR KNEES
This applies to both the start of your session, until you are familiar, comfortable and balanced on the board, and the start of every session when you mount your board in shallow water. When you first enter the water, kneel up on your paddleboard until you have paddled out into slightly deeper water; if you go straight to standing and fall off in shallow water you are far more likely to hurt yourself. You can paddle effectively (holding the shaft of your paddle part way up) from your knees until you are confident enough to try standing up, and return to your knees should you need to – perhaps if conditions change and the sea becomes a bit bumpier.
ENJOY THE GLIDE
At the end of each paddle stroke, there is no rush or need to dig straight into the next stroke; allow the power generated by the stroke to propel you forward, and enjoy the glide! Taking a short pause between each paddle stroke will mean you travel further, for fewer strokes.
BEND AT THE KNEES
With your feet parallel, shoulder width apart, and facing forwards in the centre of the board (roughly either side of the carry handle), it will be the muscles in your feet and legs that help you to keep your balance. Keep you feet, hips and head in a straight line, one above the other, and soften your knees. If you bend at the waist then your head and upper body (the heavy parts of you!) will be off centre and you are more likely to wobble and fall in. Soft knees, loose hips and a feeling for your feet will help you to maintain your balance as you move through your paddle stroke.
Have fun out there!