Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Paddle Boarding
Paddle boarding is a thrilling water sport that has recently gained massive popularity. Whether it's for relaxation, exercise, or exploration, it offers a unique and fun way to connect with nature. However, as a beginner, you may face some unexpected challenges. This article highlights some of the things that I wish I knew before I started paddle boarding.
The Importance of the Right Equipment
Choosing the Right Paddle Board
Before I started paddle boarding, I underestimated the importance of choosing the right paddle board. The type of board you choose—be it hard paddle boards, inflatable paddle boards, or those with an EPS foam core—can significantly affect your paddle boarding experience. I initially used a regular surfboard, not knowing that a stand up paddle board, designed specifically for this sport, would offer more stability and ease.
The SUP Paddle Matters
I learned that the paddle's length, type, and even its blade's orientation, play a vital role in paddling efficiency. Ideally, the paddle should be taller than your height by 6-8 inches, and the blade should face forward. I initially used the blade in the wrong orientation, making the paddle stroke less effective. Using a carbon fiber paddle, which is light yet strong, also makes a big difference compared to aluminum or plastic paddles.
Safety Equipment is a Must
Before starting, I wasn't aware of all the safety equipment needed for paddle boarding. Personal flotation devices are crucial, especially when paddle boarding in deep or open ocean water. A safety whistle and a leash, which connects you to your board, are essential pieces of safety gear that can help in emergencies.
Learning Proper Paddling Techniques
Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tips
One thing I wish I knew before starting was the importance of proper paddling techniques. Knowing how to perform a forward stroke, sweep stroke, and reverse stroke would have made my first SUP outing far more enjoyable. A powerful paddle stroke starts with arms straight, pulling your body to the paddle, not the other way around.
Body Position and Balance
Another significant aspect I had to learn was maintaining the right body position. I discovered the hard way that standing with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart provides the best balance. I initially stood with one foot forward, which is a common mistake. Also, while paddling, your body should be facing forward, and your knees should be slightly bent to aid balance.
Learning to Fall
In paddle boarding, everyone falls. It's a part of the learning process. However, I wish I knew how to fall correctly. The idea is to fall away from the board to avoid getting hurt. Also, learning to get back on the board after a fall is an essential skill I wish I knew initially.
Understanding Weather and Water Conditions
Before I started paddle boarding, I wasn't aware of the impact of weather and water conditions on the sport. I soon realized that flat water is best for beginners, while more advanced paddlers might seek the challenge of waves or even SUP surfing. Checking the weather forecast, understanding the implications of wind and tide, and avoiding thunderstorms became critical aspects of my paddle boarding outings.
Respecting Marine Life
Initially, I didn't realize the importance of respecting marine life while paddle boarding. Keeping a safe distance from animals, not disturbing their natural habitat, and not littering are crucial to protecting the marine environment.
Additional Tips for Paddle Boarding Success
Keeping a Check on Your Fitness Level
Paddle boarding is a full-body workout that requires a certain level of physical fitness. I wish I knew the importance of core strength and balance before I started. SUP is not just about standing and paddling; it’s about maintaining your balance on an unstable surface, which requires engaging your core muscles. Incorporating balance and core strengthening exercises into my fitness routine greatly improved my SUP performance.
Mastering How to Carry Your Paddle Board
I wish I knew how to carry my paddle board properly from the beginning. It's essential to know how to carry your board from your vehicle to the water, especially if it's a hard board. The carry handle in the middle of most boards is there for a reason: you can lean the board on its side and carry it under one arm, or lift it onto your head and carry it with both hands for more evenly distributed weight.
The Significance of SUP Etiquette
Just like any other sport, paddle boarding also comes with its own set of rules and etiquette that I wish I had known earlier. Respect other water users by maintaining a safe distance, avoid hogging the waves if you are into SUP surfing, and do not paddle in swimming areas. It's also essential to lend a hand if another paddler is in trouble. Understanding and practicing SUP etiquette not only keeps everyone safe but also contributes to a more enjoyable experience on the water.
In conclusion, starting your journey in paddle boarding can be exciting and challenging. Understanding these tips and insights before beginning can save you time, ensure your safety, and provide a more enjoyable experience on the water. So grab your paddle board, put on some sun protection, and embark on your SUP adventure!