Discovering the World of Stand Up Paddle Board Racing: Tips, Techniques, and Events

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has taken the world by storm, and one of the fastest-growing disciplines in this water sport is SUP racing. Whether you're dipping your toes into the world of SUP racing or aiming to sharpen your skills, this guide is your gateway. We'll delve into tips and techniques to boost your performance, the optimal gear for racing, and vital safety precautions. So, grab your paddleboard, and let's embark on this exciting journey!


sup race 14 foot board class

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) has taken the world by storm, and one of the fastest-growing disciplines in this water sport is SUP racing. If you're new to the world of SUP racing or looking to improve your skills, you're in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover tips and techniques to enhance your performance, the perfect gear for racing, and some essential safety tips to keep in mind while on the water. So grab your paddle and let's dive in!

Part 1: Essential Tips and Techniques for SUP Racing

paddle boarders preparing for paddle board race
  1. Paddle Technique: Just like any other water sport, having a good paddle technique is crucial in a paddle race. Keep your arms straight, use your core for power, and make sure your paddle is vertical when entering the water. This will allow you to maximize your stroke efficiency and cover more distance with each stroke.

  2. Stance and Balance: Maintaining a proper stance on your board is vital for stability and speed. Position your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees to maintain balance. Keep your body centered over the board and use your core muscles to control the board's movements.

  3. Drafting: Drafting is a technique used in many racing sports, including SUP racing. By following closely behind another paddler, you can take advantage of the slipstream created by their board, reducing your effort and saving energy. To draft effectively, position yourself about a board length behind and slightly to one side of the leading paddler. Practice drafting with a partner to get a feel for the optimal distance and positioning.

  4. Buoy Turns: In most SUP races, you'll need to navigate around buoys, which can be a challenging aspect of the race. To execute a buoy turn efficiently, approach the buoy with speed, shift your weight to the inside rail of the board, and perform a series of short, quick strokes on the outside of the turn. This will help you maintain momentum and make a smooth, controlled turn.

  5. Training: Like any sport, the key to success in SUP racing is consistent training. Develop a training plan that includes a mix of endurance, speed, and interval workouts, as well as strength and flexibility exercises. Don't forget to include regular rest and recovery days to prevent overtraining and injury.

Part 2: The Perfect Gear for Racing Paddle Boards

stand up paddle board racing on a race board
  1. Race Boards: While you can race on any paddle, using a race board designed for speed and performance will give you a significant advantage. Look for a narrower board that is lightweight with a displacement hull that cuts through the water efficiently. Read our comprehensive guide on choosing the right paddle board for your skill level and activity for more information.

  2. Paddle: A lightweight, high-performance paddle is essential for SUP racing. Choose a paddle with a carbon fiber shaft for optimal stiffness and weight savings. The blade should be appropriately sized for your height and stroke style. Visit our guide on how to choose the right paddle for more details.

  3. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Safety is crucial in any water sport, and wearing a PFD is mandatory at every SUP race. Choose a PFD designed specifically for paddling, with a low-profile design and ample freedom of movement.

  4. Hydration and Nutrition: Staying hydrated and fueled during a race is essential for optimal performance. Use a hydration pack or secure a water bottle to your paddle board for easy access during the race. Experiment with different energy gels, bars, or chews to find what works best for you during training sessions.

  5. Leash: A coiled leash is a must for SUP racing, as it helps keep you connected to your board in case of a fall and minimizes drag in the water. Choose a leash that's comfortable and secure, with a quick-release mechanism in case of entanglement.

  6. Apparel: Dress for the conditions and your comfort during the race. Opt for moisture-wicking, quick-drying clothing, such as rash guards, board shorts, or leggings. In colder conditions, consider a wetsuit or drysuit to maintain body temperature. Don't forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

  7. Accessories: Some additional accessories can enhance your SUP racing experience. Consider a GPS watch to track your speed, distance, and heart rate during training and races. Waterproof cases or dry bags can help protect your belongings while on the water.

Part 3: Safety Tips for Paddling Race Boards

local races
  1. Know the Race Course: Familiarize yourself with the racecourse beforehand. Study maps, attend pre-race briefings, and, if possible, practice on the course before the race. Knowing the course will help you strategize and avoid any unexpected obstacles.

  2. Be Aware of Weather and Water Conditions: Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to race day and be prepared for any changes in conditions. Check water temperature, currents, and tide information to ensure you're prepared for the race environment.

  3. Practice Safety and Etiquette: Adhere to race rules, and practice good sportsmanship with fellow racers. Give way to faster paddlers, communicate with others around you, and always prioritize safety over competition.

  4. Warm-Up and Stretch: Properly warming up and stretching before the race can help prevent injuries and improve your performance. Include dynamic stretches and a short paddle to get your muscles ready for the race.

  5. Know Your Limits: SUP racing can be physically demanding, so it's essential to know your limits and listen to your body. If you feel overly fatigued, dizzy, or unwell during the race, don't hesitate to take a break or seek assistance from race officials or fellow paddlers.


racing paddle boards

SUP racing is an exhilarating and challenging way to enjoy the sport of stand up paddle boarding. By mastering the essential tips and techniques, choosing the right gear, and prioritizing safety, you'll be well on your way to becoming a competitive SUP racer. Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out on the water and start training today!

Other paddle board articles you might want to check out:







  7. The best Places To Paddle Board In Every State!

    To check out Glide's line of stand up paddle boards, head here for inflatables: For hard boards: :