How to SUP! Lay paddle perpendicular across the board and start on your knees. Knees should be centered on the board on either side of the SUP carrying handle. Start by paddling on your knees to get a feel for the board and conditions. Slowly stand up placing feet shoulder length apart, toes forward. Remember that standing using one leg at a time will create a tendency for the board to rock one way. A trick to balance the board is to use your paddle to push on the opposite side. Once standing up, your tendency will be to look down, however, looking forward as if riding a bike promotes better balance. As you become balanced you may change your position on the board to suit the conditions and increase your speed or turning radius. For instance, leaning back causes the front of the board to leave the water and this promotes a sharper turning radius. The paddle is gripped at the top with one hand (opposite hand as the side you’re paddling) and about 24-36” below with the other hand (bottom hand is on the same side you’re paddling). To maintain a straight course, switch between paddling on left and right sides by switching top and bottom hands and paddling on opposite sides evenly, accounting for any conditions such as wind and wake. Paddling front to back on one side will cause the SUP to change course to the opposite side. Paddling back to front will cause SUP to turn sharply on the same side. This can be a useful maneuver in tight areas. Also, the farther the paddle is from the board the greater the turning radius so to maintain a straighter course, keep the paddle as close to the board as possible. The paddling technique is the most important action on a board and is similar to rowing a canoe. Dismount the board in the opposite fashion of starting. Be careful in shallow water or near shore or docks.
For the more advanced rider, a rowing technique used by racers is described here: keep the lower arm fixed and in a almost 45 degree angle (actually about 60 degrees) and use the upper hand to maneuver the paddle. With the lower arm fixed and the upper hand manipulating the paddle this forces the paddle to come out of the water at your feet. This promotes the most efficient stroke as paddling past the feet creates an inefficient stroke. Instead of pulling back on the paddle you push the paddle forward. The top hand controls the paddle entry and exit from the water with a circular and twisting motion. The twist pulls the paddle from the water and the circular motion helps it’s entry back in the water. Reaching as far forward without changing the position of your feet helps propel your faster. Racers can average 6-9mph in short and long distance racing with an efficient, even stroke!
The PPB Team