There’s a lot out there about SUP safety; wearing a leash; wearing the correct least for your chosen paddling environment; wearing a buoyancy aid of PFD; making sure you actually wear your leash and know how to inflate your flotation device if it requires pulling a chord and so on. But what about if your leash fails? Or worse still your inflatable bursts – it’s not common but has happened in the past.
The fact is, if you’re heading much further than a few metres away from the bank or shoreline then you need to be prepared to swim. So the question you have to ask is: ‘can I feasibly swim my way back to safety from the distance I choose to paddle away from land?’.
Add to the mix weather, such as chop, swell, wind, current and tide and it becomes a whole different ball game. Placid water’s one thing but when you chuck elements into the mix that seemingly not far a distance may take on gargantuan mileage. Consider that fatigue may have set in and panic, which also saps strength, and the danger can be real.
Now don’t get us wrong. Were not trying to scaremonger. This is simply a consideration. For most of your SUP career you’ll be readily in touch with the best form of flotation (your board) without mishap. But we all know ‘stuff’ happens so keeping safety aspects in mind is always worthwhile.
Of course, you can offset chance by checking your gear’s in good working order and replacing what’s not. Don’t wait for the inevitable to happen if your leash looks worn. And make sure you patch that ding if needs be rather than run the risk of further damage.
But back to original point and swimming. The golden rule is don’t venture further than you can swim back, as already mentioned above. Paddling with others is also worthwhile so as to mitigate risk further. Stand up paddling is a safe enough sport that when practising with due diligence in mind won’t see things go all Pete Tong.