It’s holiday time and we’re seeing plenty of new stand up paddlers here on the Thames. If you’re reading this you’re probably already a canoe or kayak coach or leader; perhaps you’re tempted to try SUP as well? If so, go on, you won’t regret it and here are some thoughts to help you make the most of the experience.
1. Enjoy the view – while you may start paddling on your knees it probably won’t be long before you want to try standing. Make the most of your new vantage point. You’ll find you have a very different view from that in a canoe or kayak. As well as being able to see further you will also have a much clearer view of what’s going on beneath you. Enjoy the glimpses you have into the underwater world – particularly on a bright day in shallow water.
2. Watch for weed – August and September are the worst time for weed on many British waterways and while it may look pretty on the surface, weed, together with tree roots and branches and other underwater obstructions can bring your board to halt very quickly – which is likely to result in you continuing your forward motion and finding yourself going over the nose of your board.
3. Knees over toes – Once you’re standing, keep your knees ‘soft’; this will help you balance and provide natural suspension to ride out any waves or wobbles. You’ll often hear me and other instructors saying keep your knees over your toes.
4. Stacked hands – As in any paddlesport, to move the board forward efficiently you need to use your core muscles and plant the blade in the water with the paddle shaft as vertical as possible. Sink on your knees using your body weight to help drive the paddle down with each stroke to paddle even more efficiently.
5. Expect to get wet – Don’t just wait for it to happen, find the balance points around the board by pushing past them. You’ll enjoy your SUP experience all the more once you’re wet and no longer worrying about/trying to avoid falling in!