SUP Safety14 Jun 2023
Stand-up paddleboarding has gained popularity in recent years with just about everyone now considering it a sport they can do. It is a great way to get outdoors, exercise, and explore the water. However, like any water sport, SUP comes with its own set of safety considerations, and unfortunately, as more and more people take up the sport, so to has the number of accidents.
Paddleboarding is generally a safe sport. Even if you're considering more challenging conditions or activities, you're unlikely to encounter any issues if you prioritize basic safety measures.
1. Use Your Leash
A safety leash, or legrope as they are sometimes referred to is your number one piece of safety equipment. It keeps your board within easy reach if you fall off and stops it from being swept away. Your board is by far the best floatation device you have and your leash makes sure it is always within reach.
2. Wear a PFD
A personal flotation device (PFD) is a must-have when it comes to SUP safety if you are going out into open water. Open water by definition, is where you will be more than 100 metres from a shoreline. It is essential to wear a PFD, especially if you are a beginner or are paddling in rough waters. A PFD will keep you afloat and provide buoyancy in case you fall off your board. One consideration when choosing a PFD is how well it fits and how thick it is. A poor fitting PFD that is quite thick around the chest area can make it hard to get back onto your board in deeper water. So be sure to read lots of SUP-specific reviews when looking to buy one.
3. Learn the basics
Before getting on a paddleboard, it is crucial to learn the basics of paddleboarding and do some practicing in shallow water, close to the shore. One of the most critical skils to practice is getting back onto the board in deep water. I.e. water that you can't stand in.
Taking a beginner lesson from a qualified instructor is an excellent way to learn the basics of SUP quickly. You will learn how to balance on the board, paddle efficiently, and maneuver in the water. Knowing the basics will help you stay safe on the water and avoid accidents.
4. Check the weather conditions
Checking the weather conditions before heading out is essential for SUP safety. Wind, waves, and current can make paddling difficult and dangerous. Check the weather forecast and plan your paddling route accordingly. Avoid paddling in stormy or windy conditions and always be aware of changing weather. One reference point we often make at Honu is; if it is windy enough for kite surfers, it's too windy for paddleboarding.
5. Wear appropriate clothing
Wearing appropriate clothing is essential for SUP safety. Wear a wetsuit or thermal layers in cold water conditions to prevent hypothermia. Wear a rash guard/ sun guard or swimwear in warmer months that allows you to move freely but helps prevent too much sun exposure. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
6. Be aware of your surroundings
When paddling on the water, be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for other boats, swimmers, and obstacles. Always paddle with a buddy or in a group, especially if you are a beginner. The other consideration is the choose where you are going carefully. Think like a skier would. If you are learning to Ski you don't start on the Black Diamond runs. Same applies to SUP. When learning, do so on flat, calm water on a day without Wind. Progress to more challenging conditions like small surf or open water as you become more comfortable and confident with your board.
In conclusion, SUP is a fun and exciting water sport that in general, is very safe for everyone. However, as a watersport, there are certain safety precautions to be taken into account. Wearing your leash and a PFD is your first priority. Make sure you check the weather conditions and dress appropriately. Always prioritize safety when paddling on the water, and you will have an enjoyable, safe experience.
Check out the range of SUP Paddles from Honu