A passionate instructor
Fun in numbers
Stand-up paddleboard guru Dave Smits shares these simple tips for staying safe on the water:
- Be visible! SUPing is still relatively new, so boaters on your lake may not be accustomed to watching for SUPs. So, you need to be especially careful to watch for boaters. To increase your visibility, wear a brightly colored PFD and hat, and buy a brightly colored paddle. If you’re going to sit and lounge on your board, find a place near shore or a bay where you’re away from boat traffic.
- If you feel like you’re going to fall, just jump in the water so you can control the fall, and not injure yourself.
- Watch the weather; thunderstorms can come up fast, and that paddle you’re holding is a big lightning rod.
- If it’s windy, use a leash so the board doesn’t float away.
What you can do
- CRUISE/SIGHTSEE. If your lake isn’t too large, work up to circumnavigating it. You can intimately discover every bay, wood duck house, and collection of lily pads.
- EXERCISE. Paddling builds core muscles! But you can even do push-ups and sit-ups on the board, practicing balance as you go.
- YOGA. Seriously, it can be done. Of course, you’ll need calm water and good balance.
- FISH. You can see the fish very well from a SUP!
- SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR DOG. Man’s best friend can be trained to ride along with you on a SUP adventure.
- RACE. Once you’ve mastered the sport, challenge yourself by entering a race. The best fringe benefit: getting to know like-minded, fun-loving adventurers.
Buying a paddleboard
- Find local resources, like a nearby board shop, and try different boards while asking about their construction.
- Decide what you want to use it for – cruising, racing, etc., so you can match the board to that use. And keep these guidelines in mind:
- Wider boards are more stable
- Narrower boards are faster
- Longer boards are also faster
- Rounded fronts give you better maneuverability for turning and for managing waves and rapids
- Stretch yourself. “Buy a board you can grow into so it will challenge you a little bit,” Dave advises.
- Buy the right board for your size (height and weight). “If the board is too small to handle your weight, you’re going to end up in the water,” Dave says.
- Buy locally. But if you decide to purchase online, make sure the shipping is insured, and don’t let the delivery driver leave until you’ve unwrapped and inspected the board.
What else do you need?
- Paddle – The less it weighs, the better.
- PFD – Buy one made for SUPing or kayaking. They have generous armholes for freedom of movement, plenty of ventilation, and usually pockets for holding things like sunscreen.
- Leash – These are important on windy days so your board doesn’t get away from you if you fall off.
- Water bottle – Stay hydrated out there.
- Sunscreen and hat – Just like with boating, you are very exposed to UV rays on top of the water.
- Cargo net – These are handy for holding gear like water bottles. Some attach to the board with suction cups.