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The 10 most important things you need to know before you use your paddleboard for the first time

Cal Major and the Water Skills Academy have put together 10 really good short and focused videos that give you the very basic things you need to know before you even think about putting your paddleboard on the water.

We’ve linked to those 10 things below, and have supplemented them with other useful content and links from other providers, or blog articles we’ve written ourselves.

Where can you paddle safely?

For more about licences and where you’re allowed to paddle check out our beginners FAQs here

Beginner SUP how to guide

If you’re looking for inspiration travel destinations to paddle in, check our SUP travel guide here.

McConks Stand Up Paddle Boarding Bitesize Travel Guides

If you’re looking for places to paddle more locally, check out these maps on SUPhubUK.

And – if you’re looking for an instructor you can trust to give you good safety and technique advice, check out our map of recommended schools, instructors and providers.

McConks recommended SUP demo centres and SUP instructors.

2. What to wear paddleboarding

What you wear whilst stand up paddle boarding is important. There’s appropriate clothing for all types of SUP. You just have to decide what’s applicable and (literally) the best fit.

More information

3. What to take with you when you you SUP

More information

You’ll need a few essentials.  Listen to Cal’s recommendations

4. Communication when paddling

Make sure you let people know when you’re paddling, and when you’ll be back. There are multiple ways to be able to communicate.  All paddlers at the very least should have a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof bag/case, easily to hand. If you’re going to be paddling more open waters, you might need additional comms means such as VHS or EPIRB.  Check what Cal has to say here, and also check out these articles:

5. When is it safe to paddle?


Does you local spot look flat, safe and calm?  It’s not always as benign as you think. And the weather in the UK has a habit of changing suddenly.  Check Cal’s tips, Tids advice about offshore wind, and read these articles about reading the weather!

SUP weather: how to interpret forecasts.

Interpreting weather forecasts for your local stand up paddle board spot.

6. Using the right leash

You know that well known campaign “Leashes save lives”?

Well it’s not always true. The wrong leashes in the wrong environment have killed people.

British canoeing technical group expert Tids has put this video together on SUP leashes, buoyancy aids and other safety issues.

Chris Kenyon one of the first standup paddlers in the UK, head honcho at the first SUP Club Central SUP, and now Chief Exec of the Academy of Surf Instructors has put together this video showing how important quick release leash belts are.

And this is a video we put together a while back.

SUP hacks | attaching your leash

7. Carrying and launching your SUP

Getting on the water isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Check out Cal’s tips for getting on the water

McConks SUP user guide #6: how to launch your McConks inflatable stand up paddle board.

8. Paddleboard self rescue

If it does all go Pete Tong then having SUP self rescue techniques down will ensure you can get out of trouble and help others.

SUP safety | SUP rescues

9. Being a responsible paddler

Nature is precious, and we can harm the environment in so many ways as a paddler.

From erosion, to noise pollution to transferring invasive species, we need to be aware of our impact.

We should always look to leave no trace when paddling, and here’s some tips how to be responsible paddler

McConks SUP user guide: responsible and safe stand up paddle boarding.



10. Respecting wildlife and nature

Ever wanted to paddle with Bottlenose Dolphins, whales, and seals?

Marine mammals are protected, and can be dangerous.  They can be very inquisitive, but the water is their environment.  Keep your distance – don’t hunt them down, and feel blessed when they come to visit you.

Also, check out these useful codes.

The BSUPA and RSPB bird code

The Scottish Marine Mammal watching code


Check out our other safety tips and hacks here:

Check out our Full user guide here