Our five practical tips to make beginner stand up paddleboarding more fun - and a bit safer. From weather to transporting your board, our guide will help you get prepped like a SUP pro.
You’re kitted up and ready to live your best stand up paddleboard (SUP) life. Before you get to the good stuff there's a few practical elements you’ll want to think about so you’re prepped and ready for stand up paddleboard success.
Putting thought into where you go, what’s going on with the weather and even what you wear all help make for smoother sailing. Here’s some key things to think about before you get paddling.
1. Location: find beginner-friendly spots to go paddle boarding
As a beginner, paddling in calm, preferably shallower waters with easy access back to dry land is ideal for getting confident on your SUP. If you’re near the coast, estuaries and sheltered bays are going to be more beginner-friendly. Further inland, lakes and gentle rivers are ideal.
You’ll want to steer clear of surf beaches and fast-flowing rivers or other water with strong currents to avoid any risky situations and keep your SUP confidence intact. Ditto for spots that get busy with boats, jet skis or other watersports. Finding somewhere that’s quieter out of the way of other water users will make the experience safer and much more zen.
If you’re in need of ideas on where to go paddle boarding this list is a good starting point for spots all around Australia. Sites like the Seabreeze Stand Up Paddle forum can also be a good source of info and ideas.
2. Weather: check the conditions are right
Zero wind, calm waters, blue skies. Check, check, check. You’ve hit the jackpot if these are the conditions for the day. Getting your meteorologist hat on (aka checking your BOM app) will help check that you’re hitting the water with conditions that’ll make the experience fun - and safe.
As a beginner less than 12 knots is ideal. Above this it’s a bit breezy, paddling against a strong wind is hard work and generally not that fun while you’re still learning. Stillness or gentle seabreeze is the wind strength you’re after.
If she’s looking choppy out, you’ll want to reconsider your plan. Still waters equals stability, equals staying on your board and not falling in.
Estuaries and gentle flowing waterways are great spots to get started on, and they’re even better when you pick the right tide. Slack tide is ideal, even better if you’re able to time it to go with the tide in one direction and come back as the tide changes direction so it’s with you both ways.
3. Clothing: get protected from the elements
You’ll feel a whole lot more on-point after a couple of hours on the water if the outfit you’ve chosen is suited for the scorching sun or chilly breeze, depending on weather conditions.
If you’re going to be soaking up the rays for a couple of hours, upping sun protection options is a good idea. The water intensifies the rays, so break out your zinc stick and some quality SPF. Plus you know a rash shirt will up the protection a whole lot, so consider popping one on. A hat that won’t fly away and polarised sunglasses also won’t go amiss.
Go bright, be visible
It’s all about visibility out on the water, making it easy for any other boats or watercraft to see you. So, steer away from monochrome chic, and opt for fluro or bright colours as part of your look.
If you’re heading out on a cooler day then layers are your friend. Waterproof jackets are a good all rounder, plus something that’s going to keep you warm and dry quickly if the wind picks up or if you fall in - best be prepared. Or go one step up and get your wetsuit on so you know you’ll be warm whether you’re on the water or in it.
Gear & bag
Don’t forget your water bottle, SUPing can be a good workout so you’ll want to stay hydrated. A dry-bag can be helpful too.
4. Transport - figure out how to transport your paddle board with you
If you have an inflatable SUP, own a ute or live near a beach - this is an easy one. If you aren’t so sure about squeezing a 3m board in the backseat, transporting your board is going to need a bit more prep.
The length of SUPs varies from anywhere between 2.5m for a shorter board to over 4m for a longer board. If you’ve got a ute or SUV, fitting your board in your vehicle might be an option, otherwise there’s a few ways you’ll be able to get your board down to the water with you.
Inflatable paddle boards
If you’ve opted for one of these, transportation is easy.. Most inflatable SUPs come with a carry bag and pack down to a large backpack size. Easy to pop in your car or sling over your shoulder and then inflate once you’re at the spot where you’ll be paddling.
Visions of jumping in your car and hitting the road for faraway paddling adventures? Roof racks are the accessory you need to make it happen. An easy, convenient way to transport your board whether its summer road trips or quick weekday paddle, roof racks make it simple. There’s roof racks that’ll fit most cars, so if your vehicle vibe is more compact city-runabout than roomy truck you’ll still be able to transport your SUP.
If you’re after quality roof racks, some brands have models specifically designed to carry SUPs, like the Thule SUP Taxi XT or the Rhino Rack Nautic 570 Sup Carrier with padded protection and custom fit for boards. Roof racks like these ones are also lockable which means added security for your precious board while you’re out and about.
Once you’ve got your roof racks on, this Seabreeze post has some handy pointers about mastering the art of putting your SUP on your roof racks. Tips include parking by a curb if hoisting your board above your head is proving tricky, and putting the straps which secure your board on the roof racks before (rather than after) you lift your board up.
SUP carry cart or trolley
Keen on strolling or biking down to the beach with your board? Trying to lug a hard board around is hard work. Sidestep the sweaty mess situation with a SUP trolley or carry cart. These nifty devices are designed so you can strap one or more boards in and wheel your board with you whether you’re on a bike or on foot. As a bonus, most trolleys are designed to be able to transport surfboards or kayaks too, so they’re versatile.
5. Storage - taking care of you board
Back on dry land after a SUP session, taking the time to look after your board is well worth the effort. There’s a few simple things you can do to help keep your board in mint condition for longer.
Get a board bag
A protective bag for your board will make sure it gets to and from the water without any unnecessary dents or scratches.
Rinse and dry
If you’re using your board in salt water, giving your SUP a rinse with fresh water after each use will help avoid salt corroding the board. Once it’s rinsed you’ll want to dry it off before you store it away.
Outta the sun
It’s the ideal watercraft for soaking up the sun when you’re out on the water but once the day’s paddling is done, give your board a break from the sun. Just like salt, sun can be a major factor in aging your gear quickly, so you’ll want to store your board out of the sun when not in use.
Extra tips for inflatable boards
When you’re rolling your deflated board back into its bag don’t roll it too tightly if it’s going to be stored away for a while. If you want to leave it inflated it’s a good idea to deflate it slightly, especially if it’s going to be somewhere warm as heat causes the air inside to expand. Once you’re ready to use it again you’ll want to check the air pressure and give it a pump if needed.
Feeling ready to paddle like a pro? Add water to all of the above and you’ll find yourself floating into your new SUP lifestyle like a duck to water.
We hope you found this article useful. It’s important to remember that when looking at sports gear cover, there’s terms and conditions to consider so always make sure you take the time to get across the full rental terms so you know what happens if things were to go wrong.
Good to know
With Huddle’s Car Insurance you can get optional Sports Gear Cover. This includes sports gear like stand up paddleboards, kayaks, surfboards. The cover includes up to $3,000 for your sports gear when it’s in or securely attached to your car.