A Few Things to Consider as a First-time Paddleboarder

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It Starts with the Gear

A standup paddleboard is a standup paddleboard, right? Aren’t they all pretty much the same? While stand up paddleboards are fairly similar in design, there are some subtle differences that make certain types more favorable for beginners. One of the first decisions that you need to make is how you intend to use your paddleboard. Will you be using your paddleboard for SUP yoga, all-around paddling, or surfing? Then choose a paddleboard with a planing hull. The hull of a paddleboard refers to the body and correlates to how well the board will move through the water. If you intend to engage in long-distance standup paddling or racing, then choose a displacement hull. These hulls are designed to cut through the water for more speed and efficiency. 

Figure 1″Paddleboard Yoga” by SWorldguy is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Based on your desired activity, the width of your standup paddleboard is another key factor. For activities that may require more stability or the ability to balance, choose a standup paddleboard with a width greater than 31”. This would include SUP activities like yoga and fishing. If you’re seeking to add a little more speed to your standup paddleboard game, pick out a board with a width of less than 31”.

When it comes to the length of your new standup paddleboard, the longer the board, the more aggressive the activities. For a beginner, stick to a SUP that is between 10-12’ in length. Paddleboards over 12’ are better suited for those faster activities like long-distance paddling and racing.

What is the perfect standup paddleboard for a beginner? It truly depends on what you intend to do with it. A 10-12’ board that is at least 31” wide should give beginners a good all-around SUP that can provide for many years of fun.

Figure 2STandup Paddleboarding on the Potomac” By JasonionPhotography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Practice Makes Perfect

While you may be able to learn to make a danish layer cake or create a centerpiece for your next holiday gathering without actually meeting Martha Stewart, internet videos probably aren’t the best place to learn to standup paddleboard. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can provide beginners with tips and techniques to get the ball rolling. You may even decide to purchase your first standup paddleboard on the internet. Just remember to do your homework first! Having in-person instruction prior to your first time standup paddleboarding will go a long way to helping enjoy the experience to the fullest. Standup paddleboarding is not hard to master, but as anyone who has tried a new sport for the first time knows, having a little coaching along the way doesn’t hurt. Just remember, even the most experienced standup paddleboarders take a spill every now and again. After all, this is a water sport! Just relax and have fun.

Start on the Calm Waters

This might be obvious, but if you have never been on a standup paddleboard, you may want to limit your adventures to the calm waters. While stand up paddleboarding is fairly easy to master once you get the hang of it, practice makes perfect. You probably didn’t head out to the highway for your first driving lesson, did you? It’s best to limit the first couple of standup paddleboard experiences to a pond, inland lake, or calm river. Keep in mind that although the water may be calm, the wake created by aggressive boaters can certainly wreak havoc on beginner standup paddleboarders. Look for a body of water that doesn’t allow boaters or stay close to the shoreline. After a few practice sessions, you’ll be ready to try out your standup paddleboard on any open water.

Figure 3″Calm Lake” by Fred Moore 1947 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Where Am I Going to Put This Thing?

You’ve purchased your standup paddleboard, gotten some instruction from an experienced friend, and have fallen in love with the sport. Who wouldn’t?!? But now you have to store your new standup paddleboard. The typical board is between 10-12 feet in length. That can take up quite a bit of valuable storage space. Gili Sports has a solution for your storage challenges. Their line of inflatable standup paddleboards(iSUPs) has solved the problem of what to do with your board when you’re not on the water. Gili Sport iSUPs come in a variety of sizes for all types of activities. These very light and ultra-portable paddleboards weigh between 19 and 24 pounds (depending on the model) and come in either 10’6 or 11’6 lengths. Gili Sports iSUP packages come with an iSUP board, travel paddle, snap-in center fin, dual-stage pump, 8’ coiled leash, and travel backpack. These boards are perfect for paddlers of all skill levels.

Standup paddleboarding is a fast-growing water sport that allows paddlers of all skill levels and budgets to participate. Whether you intend to explore the calm inland waters of a nearby lake or tackle the waves of the open ocean, standup paddleboarding is a great way to get outside and enjoy an active lifestyle.

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