Stand-up Paddle Boarding or SUP, has really caught on in recent years, seeing a real growth whether it’s on a solid paddleboard or an inflatable one. The SUP’ing is an excellent way to improve your fitness, including your core strength. A number of SUP schools have sprung up across East Kent, providing enthusiasts with a good choice of locations and instructors. Equipment has also come down in price, enabling people who wouldn’t have dreamed of having ago, the opportunity to participate in this exciting hobby.
Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced, it’s always useful to have a few tips up your sleeve which will help improve your overall SUP experience.
Here are some top tips to help keep you safe
- Aim to always go with a mate, that way if one of you gets into difficulty, there’s someone to either call for help or go for help. It is also much better fun, especially so you can share your experiences later on over a cuppa and something nice to eat.
- Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set out. There are plenty of smart device app’s that are available to dowload for weather forecasts and tide times. Conditions can change very quickly, so, if you are a beginner starting out in weather/conditions which are on the edge of your experience/competency level could create issues later on. It is better off, finishing your SUP session and trying another day if the conditions are starting to get beyond your competency level.
- If you are Paddleboarding on your own, always tell someone where you are going and the latest time that you will return. Always carry a mobile phone in a waterproof case and or a VHF radio.
- Planning on taking some photo’s with your phone? Make sure you keep it in a waterproof pouch. If it gets wet you will still be able to use it to call for help in an emergency too.
- Avoid offshore winds. They will quickly blow your paddleboard far out to sea, which can make it extremely tiring and difficult to paddle back to shore. If you are on a lifeguarded beach keep an eye out for the orange windsock being displayed which indicates that an off-shore wind is belowing.
- Grab some training. It is very tempting to just purchase a board and head straight out. Grabbing a few training sessions from an approved trainer or SUP school can help you with the right skills, so you stand-up more than falling into the water when you don’t need to.
- Wear a suitable personal flotation device. This can be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. It will help keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in which you are very likely to do!!
- Always wear a leash. It is incredibly frustrating having to swim after your paddleboard if you fall off. The leash will also help you stay connected to your board if you get into trouble and help you float. Lifeboat crews and Coastguard Teams always recommend holding onto your board as makes it easier to find you if they have to launch a search.
- If you are launching on a beach which is patrolled by lifeguards, make sure you launch and recover between the black and white chequered flags. There should be less swimmers in this area, giving you more room to manoeuvre. Consider other water users by learning the rights of way in the surf. This can save you and others from receiving injuries.
- Wear the right clothing for the time of year. In winter time, you will need to use a wet suit. In the summer, a bathing costume maybe more suitable. But, if you are going to be in the water for a lengthy periods of time, you might want to upgrade to kit that keeps you warm. Getting cold and miserable in the water can lead to you making errors, losing concentration and ultimately getting into difficulty.
- Many water sport enthusiasts are downloading and using SafeTRx. This is a free smart device app monitors your journey that can alert emergency contacts should you fail to arrive at your predetermined check-in points. It allows you to track a journey on your smart phone. Open water swimmers, kayakers, divers and sailors regularly use this app. The HM Coastguard can also monitor overdue craft. More information on SafeTrx
- Know who to call for a Coastal Emergency. If you think you hear or see an an animal or person in difficulty in the water or at the coast call ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard giving an accurate location, how many people are involved and describe what is happening.
In 2017 there were 28 lifeboat launches and 141 lifeguard call-outs to paddleboarders requiring assistance.