Tonight I was watching ‘Saving lives at sea’ and it inspired me to write a post about SUP safety and some things to be aware of/take note of!
Are you dressed appropriately for the paddle you are going on? In the winter, a wetsuit or drysuit is best to keep you warm if you’re paddling on the ocean, plus wetsuit boots, gloves and a cosy hat! If you are heading out on flat water such as the canal and are confident with your supping, you might want to layering up with thermals and have a waterproof jacket and trousers. Judge the situation and be sensible, cold water shock can kill you.
This is a must, a buoyancy aid is a SUP essential to keep you safe if you fall in the water or your board breaks unexpectedly. If you get caught out, and it happens to even the most experienced paddle boarders, a buoyancy aid can save your life.
Phone & Phone Case
If you ever get into trouble, you will need your phone to call the coast guard (999). Keep it in a waterproof phone case and make sure it is fully charged before you head out!
Food and drink
Always have some fluid and snacks on you, it’s important to keep hydrated and have snacks if your paddle is longer than expected or if anything happens and you need some energy.
Check the weather – and triple check again
The weather in the UK is always changing, it can be calm and beautiful one minute and gusty wind the next. Check the wind, the tides and the general weather for the day and keep checking. Do you know how different weather conditions impact the spot you are paddling? There are lots of apps to check the weather & wind such as Wind Guru, Magic Seaweed, Windy and Windfinder. Use these to plan your trips.
The wind in particular can be a hazard for paddleboarders. An offshore wind can quickly take you miles away from the shore. If there is a strong off shore wind, DO NOT go paddleboarding. Which way is the wind blowing and what knot is it blowing? As I rule of thumb I don’t tend to go out in anything above 12mph but this depends on where I am going and the wind direction, sometimes it’s less.
Do you know how to paddle into the wind?
Sometimes the weather changes no matter how much we have checked! Do you know how to paddle into the wind?
👉🏼 Get low! Standing tall can make you a bit of a sail so reduce the wind resistance on your body by bending at the hips and dropping your shoulders.
👉🏼 Move your hands further apart on the paddle for a wider grip to get more power.
👉🏼 Make sure your body weight is more forward on the board to help keep the nose of the board down and wind getting underneath it (particularly important for round nose boards).
👉🏼 Try shorter paddle stokes – they will feel more effective and less effort than a longer, slower stroke.
👉🏼 Don’t stop paddling! You don’t want to go backwards! So, if you’re still struggling get on your knees & paddle to lower the resistance.
Do the hard bit first!
If part of your paddle is against the wind or tide then do this bit first, nothing worse than getting tired at the end of a paddle and then having to tackle the wind or tide.
Check your leash before you go out to check it isn’t damaged and always wear one in case you come apart from your board.
On some waterways you need permission to paddle on them, check if you do before you head out.
Do you know how to self rescue? If not, watch some YouTube videos, head to a sup school and practice.
How far have you paddled so far? Do you know your limits? How confident are you paddling against a strong tide? Your fitness levels are important in knowing how much to push yourself.
Paddleboarding is better with friends and safer but if you do go alone, always make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you are expected to be back so they can raise an alarm.
Stay with your board
If you are getting into trouble, don’t get off your paddleboard, it will keep you above the water, stay with it and call for help.
The RYA SafeTrx app monitors your boat journeys (or SUP) and can alert emergency contacts should you fail to arrive on time. It is an app for both Android and Apple iOS smartphones that allows you to track your journey on your phone. More details here:
Don’t forget suncream!