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Getting started in Paddle boarding

Paddleboarding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise at the same time. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. In this amateur guide, we will discuss how to get started in Paddleboarding, including what you need to get started, the different types of paddleboards available, and how much they cost. We will also provide helpful tips on how to use your paddle board and how to stay safe while paddleboarding. So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced paddleboarder, read on for everything you need to know about getting started in this exciting sport!





Paddle boarding basics


Paddle boarding started back in the 1950's with the surfers in Hawaii. The legendary "beach boys" (not the band) were the first to try this new activity, which they imaginatively called "surfing on a board." It wasn't until the 1970's that paddleboarding became popular in mainland United States. Paddle boarding has since evolved into its own sport, with people of all ages and skill levels enjoying it all over the world.

Different types of paddle board

There are two main types of paddle boards: inflatable and solid. Inflatable paddleboards are made of a durable, lightweight material that can be inflated using a pump. They are great for beginners because they are easy to transport and store.

Solid paddleboards are made of fiberglass, polyethene or even carbon fiber and are more difficult to transport because they cannot be deflated. However, solid paddleboards are more stable in the water and are better for advanced paddle boarders.



Paddle boards come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most common type is the all-around board, which is versatile for both flatwater and waves. There are many different boards and so give yourself some time before picking the perfect board for you.

If you are new to paddle boarding, we recommend borrowing an all-around board from us and taking a lesson from a certified instructor (we love the ripple rebels) before you go out by yourself. Borrowing is way better for the planet than buying. But once you think you are ready to head out regularly, a Paddle board can range in price from £200 to £2000, depending on the brand, material, and length.

Paddleboarding for exercise

Paddle boarding is great exercise. When you are paddling, you are using your arms, shoulders, back, and core muscles. Paddleboarding is also a low-impact exercise, so it is easy on your joints. In addition to the physical benefits of paddleboarding, it can also help improve your balance and coordination.


What equipment will I need?

An inflatable paddle board pack usually includes the sup board, pump, leash, the board bag itself and a sup paddle. The length of your paddle should be based on your height – a rule of thumb is to add 12 inches to your height to find the ideal paddle length. For example, if you are six feet tall, you would need a paddle that is at least 72 inches long. Sup paddles are adjustable so that you can make them shorter or longer, depending on your needs. Below is a chart that could help.


If the paddle is adjustable, we generally say to hold your arm up straight against your ear, with a slight bend in the elbow. You should adjust the paddle to the size of your wrist.


Choosing a buoyancy aid


You will also need a buoyancy aid (BA) or life jacket if you are paddling in open water. Sup paddles can also be made from different materials. The most common materials are aluminium and carbon fibre. Aluminium is less expensive but heavier, while carbon fibre is more expensive but lighter.

A buoyancy aid is not the same as a life jacket – a BA will help you float, but it will not keep your head above water if you fall unconscious.

Stand up paddle boarding in different seasons

In winter, it might be worth taking note of the cold water and wearing a wetsuit or drysuit to keep yourself warm. Wetsuits are made of neoprene and trap a layer of water next to your skin, which is then heated by your body temperature. Drysuits are made of waterproof and breathable materials, like Gore-Tex, which keep you dry while you are paddling. In summer, you can paddle in your swimsuit or shorts and a t-shirt with your BA on top.


Using a waterproof phone case for stand up paddle

We aren't experts but we would also recommend a waterproof phone case. A waterproof phone case is essential if you want to take pictures while paddleboarding or if you need to call for help in an emergency. Both of these things you can do both without removing the phone from the case. In an emergency, call 999 and ask for the coast guard.


Choosing the right paddle board for you

There are four main types of paddle boards available on the market: surf-style, all-around, touring and racing. More recently SUP yoga has taken off too. Sup yoga is about taking your paddle board to the most beautiful locations possible to make your body and mind stronger. Surf-style boards are shorter and wider than all-around boards, making them more manoeuvrable in the waves. All-around paddle boards are longer and narrower, making them faster and easier to paddle long distances. Turing and racing boards are much thinner and more narrow and have a pointed nose. Inflatable paddle boards are made of a durable, lightweight PVC that can be easily deflated and transported when not in use.

Paddle boarding tips #1

A 10'6 all round inflatable paddle board is by far the most popular choice for beginners. Unless you are a child or heavy, this paddle board can get you up and running easily. The Watersports Library have a wide range to choose from if you would like to try one first.

Inflatable paddle boards can either be single-skinned or double. Single-skinned boards are lighter, cheaper but less durable, while double-skinned construction is more expensive and heavier but much more durable.

Touring paddleboards are designed for long-distance paddling and have extra cargo space to store gear. Racing paddle boards are the longest and fastest type of board, designed for racing



When you are choosing Touring and racing boards tend to be thinner and longer still. Racing boards in particular can often be expensive and made out of carbon fiber.

One of the deciding features, when choosing which stand up paddle board is right for you, is the dimensions of the board. The length, width and thickness of the board will all affect how the board handles in different conditions. For example, a longer and narrower board will be faster in flat water but might be more difficult to manoeuvre in waves. A shorter and wider board will be more stable but might not paddle as efficiently in flat water.

Another one might be whether you want to go touring or racing or just exploring. Touring boards are designed for long-distance paddling and have extra features to make them easier to paddle long distances, like a handle on the nose of the board. Racing boards are designed for speed and are often longer and narrower than other types of boards.

You also need to consider the weight capacity of the board. A paddle board have a weight limit, and it is important to choose one that can accommodate your weight and the weight of any gear you might be carrying. Heavier paddleboards will also be more difficult to transport.

Lastly, you might care about how green your board is. The watersports industry is taking huge leaps forward in designing boards which are environmentally friendly. For example, some boards are made with recycled materials or bamboo, while others offset their carbon emissions.


For some thoughts on our quest for an environmentally friendly paddle board, click here.

Choosing the right conditions to paddle board in

It's important to pick good conditions for paddling. You want to avoid choppy water, as it will be difficult to paddle and you are more likely to fall off your board. If the water is too shallow, you also run the risk of hitting rocks or other obstacles which could damage your stand up paddle board. Look for calm water with good visibility so you can see any potential hazards.

Check the wind conditions for paddling

It's important to check the wind conditions. If the wind is blowing directly towards the shore, it will be difficult to paddle out. If the wind is blowing offshore (away from the shore), there is a risk of being blown out to sea if you are not an experienced paddler. In general, its best to paddle in light winds or no wind at all.


Windy.com is a great app for this - you can check the wind conditions for any location before you go paddle boarding.

We recommend not going out if the wind speed is near or above 10knts.


Check the Poole harbour tide times

Finally, check the Poole harbour tide times. The tide can have a big effect on the conditions, and you don't want to be caught out by a strong tide. Aim for high tide because then there will be more water in the bay and you'll be less likely to run aground. You can find the tide times for any location on the tides.org website.



Stand up paddle boarding at sea

Paddle boarding at sea can be great fun. Stand up paddle surfing has been popular for a long time now. Just remember that the sea is even less predictable than the harbour or a river and so keep an eye on those conditions before you head out and when you do go out, go out with a buddy and remember your safety gear. Also, if you are intending to surf, a hard board is more likely to pick up waves than an inflatable sup.

Stand up paddle boarding on a river

Paddle boarding on a river can be a great option if the conditions are too windy in the harbour or on the beach. The water is usually calmer on a river and there are often fewer waves. However, it is important to be aware of the tide as you can be carried downstream if the current is strong.

When paddling on a river, its also important to be aware of any potential hazards such as low bridges or overhanging trees.

Paddle boarding tips # 2

It might be worth investing in a quick release belt for your leash. This sits just under your personal flotation device and can quickly separate you from your sup board should you fall in and get caught in any submerged foliage. They are pretty cheap to pick up and could be used in all types of stand up paddle boarding.

It's always a good idea to paddle with a friend when possible, so you can look out for each other and help if anyone gets into difficulty.

How do I actually use my paddle board?

So you have thought about the type of board you want and some of the accessories you may need. Now its time to actually get paddling. If your board is inflatable, you will need to inflate it using a pump. Most boards come with a foot pump, but an electric or hand pump will make the job easier and quicker and will plug into your 12v socket in your car. Paddle boards will need to be pumped up to at least 15 psi, but check your valve for the recommended pressure.

Paddle board tips # 3

We always use the phrase "valve out, air in" when we are inflating our SUP. You want the valve to be extended outwards before you begin pumping air in. This is so that when you are finished, you can close the valve and the air will stay in. If the valve is not open when you start pumping, the air will escape as soon as you try to put it in.

Standing up on your paddle board

Once your board is inflated, you can attach the leash (if you are using one) and get in the water. To get on your board, start in a kneeling position at the centre of the board. Place your SUP paddle across the deck of the board and use it to steady yourself as you stand up (it's all in the name- stand up paddle board!) Once you are standing, adjust your feet so they are shoulder-width apart and parallel to the rails of the board. You want to position your body with the centre point of the board. Bend your knees and keep your back straight as you paddle. The blade of the stand up paddle should point straight ahead and be perpendicular to the water when you are paddling. Each stroke should start from the front of the board and end at the back.


Using the paddle

With the paddle blade forward and perpendicular to the water, dig deep into the water and pull the paddle towards you. As you do this, your body should rotate from the hips so that your shoulders are facing the direction you want to go. You should then paddle forward. Your paddle grip should be relaxed with one hand on top of the paddle and the other at a comfortable length down the shaft.


Paddle posture

Remember to keep your back straight and keep your knees slightly bent as you paddle. When you get to the back of the board, reach with the paddle and dig in again to start the next forward stroke. When you have completed one stroke, simply switch sides and hand positions to begin again.


Stay hydrated when you are out paddling

Remember to stay hydrated and take breaks often, especially if you are paddling in hot weather. Paddle boarding is a great workout, but it is also important to listen to your body and take it easy if you are feeling fatigued.


SUP clubs

There are plenty of stand up paddle clubs on facebook. They are a great way of meeting fellow paddle boarders in your area and often organise group paddles. They are also a great source of information on the sport.

Watersports Library run a SUP club that meets on a Wednesday. To join, just DM us on facebook and we'll add you to the whats app.

The Jurassic SUP club

The real Dorset SUP club

Ripple Rebels

Easy riders

are just a few examples of great clubs in Dorset.


Packing away your paddle board equipment

In order to make your stand up paddle board last longer, make sure you take care of it when you are packing it away. When you have finished paddling for the day, rinse your board off with fresh water to remove any saltwater or sand that might be on it.

If you have an inflatable paddle board, deflate it and dry it off before storing it in its carry bag. For hardboards, make sure the board is completely dry before you put it away. It is also a good idea to wax your hardboard regularly to protect it from UV damage and keep it looking shiny and new.

Your SUP paddle should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If you have an adjustable paddle, make sure the screws are tightened so that the paddle does not come apart while it is stored. It's a good idea to break it down into its three parts to store to stop the salt from seizing it up.


Summing up

Paddle boarding isn't a daunting or complex sport. If you are a sup beginner , we hope this has inspired you to give it a go. It really is great fun and a fantastic workout too.

Remember to take all the necessary safety precautions, especially if you are paddling in open water, and always paddle with a friend or a club when possible.

Have fun out there! And if you have any other tips for beginners, please let us know in the comments below.

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