SUP is accessible and a relatively quick discipline to get to grips with. Most people (even without prior watersports experience) can be up and paddling in a short space of time. Of course, there’ll still be tumbles and dunkings. But with perseverance and practice most riders will be enjoying sustained upright rides across their chosen waterways.
Choosing your ideal SUP companion.
When looking to purchase that first stand up paddle board there’s a lot of consideration given to length, width and volume. Stand up paddle boarding equipment – across inflatables and hard boards – is vast. There’s a lot of choice from a lot of brands.
Initially, you’ll be asking questions aimed mostly at a board’s stability and how dimensions will impact your learning experience. Then it’ll be about progression. Whilst dimensions can offer a guide there’s no accounting for actually piloting a board, as there’s more to what’s under your feet than just measurements.
SUP board design.
SUP boards come in all shapes and sizes. And even stand up paddle platforms with similar dimensions may be very different in appearance when lined up side by side. The way the board in question’s volume is distributed, for instance, can be significantly different from your mate’s SUP. And this’ll dictate how a board performs on the water.
Other elements such as rocker, tail width and even where the rail seams are located (iSUP specific) will determine what the ‘ride’ feels like. As a general rule of thumb, it’s been 10’6 (ish) boards that have been perfect for beginners. Yet an 11’, pointy nosed touring SUP is also applicable for beginners. And a board like this will have more versatility in the long run.
Dimensions hang ups.
We’ve seen and heard much debate surrounding the topic of board design and dimensions. A question about measurements is asked which opens the flood gates to all manner of comments and conclusions. Often based on small amounts of experience.
Unless you’re in a an (enviable) position of being able to try lots of stand up paddle boards then it’s difficult to give conclusive advice when it comes to board dimensions and shape. And even then, technologies and materials have changed (and continue to evolve) which also impacts how a product feels on the water. It’s an ongoing task to understand what type of performance SUP boards can deliver. Yet getting hung up on dimensions is what many paddlers seem to be in a cycle of.
Demos and testing.
We appreciate it’s hard at the moment to get a chance to try different stand up paddle boards. COVID has halted many demo days and events that have traditionally taken place in the past. This is where riders could demo a whole raft of gear. Things are starting to return, however, and it looks like there’ll be a chance (all being well) to get back to doing this during summer 2022.
There’s also an ongoing supply/demand issue for watersports products across the (ahem) board. This too stops demo kit being readily available. Although hopefully, things will improve on this front as well.
There’s no substitute for actually trying a SUP board or paddle in a real world paddling scenario. This will tell you a lot in a short space of time. Although not the whole picture. Building that up takes yet more time. But jumping on a board will initially give a better guide than simply reading numbers on a spec sheet.
Get gone and paddle.
When all said and done you just have to paddle. Boards (and paddles) from reputable SUP brands work. And in a lot of cases, they’ll work for you. There are a few instances where they don’t. But if the brand is reputable, and your new shiny kit isn’t performing as you asked, they’ll be able to sort you out and replace it for something more suited. (To be honest, if the brand is reputable you should have been given the right advice to start with!).
There’s an element of ‘taking a punt’ with any new gear purchase. Which may sound bonkers. But, again, when buying from a reputable brand the variables should hopefully be reduced. Good advice and guidance followed by quality equipment manufacturing should see to it you end up with gear that’ll provide no end of fun.
If you need a hand choosing your ideal SUP board and paddle partner then get in touch with us. We’re only too happy to talk kit. And whilst we don’t know every single brand’s gear we know a few. And we’ll always give an honest and open opinion. McConks is here for the long haul. And we want to make sure paddlers stick around and not press eject following a bad experience. This doesn’t benefit the industry at large and also knocks on to us. The more paddlers that come into the sport and have a good experience the better for everyone.