Learning to Stand up paddle board involves patience and balance, you don't need to be really strong or fit , you just need to choose the right conditions and the best board for you !
There are a couple of questions you should ask yourself so that you can purchase the best and correct board for your needs.
- How much do you weigh? - bigger boards for heavier paddlers
- How tall are you? - wider boards for heavier paddlers - narrower for lighter and smaller
- Where will you be doing most of your stand up paddling?
- Do you want to use it for long distance paddling or are you more interested in stand up surfing? the longer the board the more glide per stroke
- Do you want a really stable board or would you prefer more maneuverabilty? the smaller the board the more maneuverable.
We have tried to explain in the simplest format below the different elements of the Stand up paddle board, if you are a little confused don't worry you can call us to discuss anything SUP related!
All Stand up paddle boards have the same characteristic elements which make them a board such as ; nose , tail, deck, bottom, rails and fins. Measurements for the length and width of boards is usually in Feet (ft) and inches ('') These elements can be different for each individual board and therefore some boards will be better in certain paddleboarding conditions than others.The volume of a board loosely determines a board’s flotation and this can be related to both the rider’s weight and skill-level helping determine the most suitable equipment for that rider and where the paddler will use it.
The board's width is also related to its shape , the wider the board the more stable it will paddle, as an example - a 28" inch wide board will be less stable than a 32" wide board for an average 12st beginner paddler but faster to paddle as the water flows easier around a narrower board.
By far the most popular of Stand up Paddle boards are the Inflatable type. These boards are manufactured from layers of PVC plastic with woven fibres connecting to the top and bottom inside the board and are suprisingly rigid once inflated. Inflatable boards are pumped up with a hand or foot pump in around 5-10 minutes and they also pack down into a bag and are easily stored. The majority of SUP paddlers use their boards on rivers and in protected coastal water with occasional waveriding and surfing use - therefore this is why over 50% of SUP paddlers own an Inflatable board. If however you plan to spend more time in the waves and want the best performance in terms of glide and speed on any type of water -choppy or calm - Epoxy Fibreglass boards are the suggested option. Epoxy boards are made from a foam core laminated with layers of fibreglass or carbon for strength and rigidity. The images below show an Inflatable board and all its layers and a EPS boards typical construction.
There are 3 main categories where you can use a Stand up paddle board and these sometimes cross over into one another.
FLAT WATER SUP click here to view flat water sup range
If you live inland near a river, lake or in a protected coastal area the idea of flatwater paddling might appeal to you. Most Flat water SUP boards are designed to be very stable in a flat water environment and are usually between 30-34 " inches wide , 10ft+ in length and have plenty of volume.
Volume has a key role to play in choosing the type of paddling you aspire to do, the greater the volume of a board = the easier and more comfortable it will be to stand on. The volume of a flat water SUP board will relate to the paddlers weight and skill level.
You can use this formula below to work out an estimate of how much Volume you should be looking at in your board.
Beginners - your weight in (kg) x 2 (ie 90kg x 2 = 180 litres
Intermediates - your weight in (kg) x 1.7
Advanced - your weight in (kg) x 1.3
Boards with a more streamlined and pointier outline shape will be faster but not neccesarilly as stable as they might have less width, so the board you choose for flat water paddling will depend on how heavy you are. The pointier shape boards may crossover into a Racing/ Touring SUP style board which are usually made with a lighter composite or carbon and enable you to compete in competition racing or touring if you wish.
Flat water stand up paddling on Gower- Picture by Grafic House
Flat water SUP boards usually have single or 3 fin configrations so that you can choose depending on what paddling your taking part in. For example Imagine crusing down a stretch of coastline on your stable flatwater SUP and discovering a clean little wave breaking, a flatwater styled Stand up paddle board will catch waves with ease but it may not perform like a SURF SUP would !
SURF SUP click here to view SURF SUP range
Riding waves has to be the main pull for most who want to get into Stand up paddle surfing.There are however lots and lots of boards on the market which may confuse you and not meet your requirments or level.
As a common rule in SUP surfing the more Volume a stand up paddle board has, the easier and more stable it will be to paddle. Volume (usually in litres) accounts to the amount of water displaced by the boards buoyancy as discussed earlier. Boards with more volume sit higher on the water's surface and are easier to paddle than a board with less. SUP boards with lots of tail volume will be more stable than a board with less tail volume. The boards shape and volume can play an important role especially in Paddle surfing.
This board has lots of tail volume and is thick, making it easier for beginners in a variety of wave conditions
This board has reduced tail volume making it slightly less stable but a more performance based Surfing SUP board
Boards with less volume will be hard work to stand on for long periods but perform better on waves, volume has a key role to play in choosing the type of surfing you aspire to do.
Longer boards with more volume and width will have better paddling glide, speed and also catch waves easier than shorter boards.
Longboard style SUP boards are geared towards catching waves early and enable the rider to cruise and perform classic longboard style maneuvers such as 'walking the nose' and noseriding 'Hang fives'. These boards will usually have a full and rounded nose to them and either have single , 3 or multiple fin configrations.
Ivan van vuuren rides the 11'6 Coreban Cruiser
Shortboard style SUP boards look very similiar to the classic pointier surfboard shape and will be better at more radical slashy and vertical style surfing. These boards are usually narrower in width making them perform turns easier on waves than wider more stable boards. They too will have 3 / multiple fin configrations which will change the boards performance.
Local rider -Titou minster slashes on a 8'10 Drops SUP
Race / Touring SUP click here to view Race SUP range
If competition racing or paddling as fast as you can from point to point is your idea of fun then a dedicated racing paddle board is what you need. Racing SUP's can be split into flatwater and downwind style boards.The majority of Racing SUP's on the market today have some sort of displacement hull from the nose of the board, meaning that they slice through flat or choppy water like a boats hull and offer great glide to the user. Race or distance Touring boards usually come with single fin configurations lessening drag and enabling the paddler to pick fins for racing or recreational tour paddling (usually bigger)
Racing SUP boards made for flat and glassy conditions can be narrow making them very fast but possibly too tippy and unstable for a beginner paddler. Therefore manufacturers usually have the same model in different widths making the board more stable for paddlers not too fussed about speed versus stability.
The racing classes for competition paddleboards are stock class 12ft 6 inches, 14ft or even unlimited 14ft plus boards.
What you will find with Racing stand up paddle boards is that their increased length will usually mean increased weight unless they are manufatured in carbon.
Boards made from carbon mean a lighter, stiffer construction making them more dynamic in any paddling disipline , but mainly racing.
There is a element to racing called 'down winders' meaning you paddle with the wind blowing in your back taking you downwind of your starting point. This is usually done on longer boards of 14 foot plus length , these boards are long and fast, and enough speed can be gained to catch ocean running swell with the wind behind you , and 'glides' of 50 -100metres are not uncommon in the best conditions, therefore another cross-over is created with SURF SUP.
By Far the most popular boards people order from us are between 10-11 ft in length
We hope you found this guide useful and are now better informed to make a decision on the perfect stand up paddle board for your needs.
If you're still confused - Please get in touch and we can talk you through it over the phone or by e mail.