SUP is a fantastic way of getting on the water. It’s a sport the whole family can enjoy, and with paddleboards becoming more affordable, it has become hugely popular around the UK coast, whether flat water or SUP surfing. However, if you are using your SUP, there are important safety considerations every SUP user should familiarise themselves with.
Top tips to ensure you are safe (developed with RNLI):
- If you can, always go with a friend. It’s more fun, and they can help you if you get into difficulty.
- If you are going out alone, always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Don’t leave the house without a mobile phone or communication device.
- Bringing your phone to take some photos? Make sure you keep it in a waterproof pouch. That way it won’t get wet, and you can use it to call for help in an emergency too.
- Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set out. If the water is too choppy, you might find it difficult, especially if you are a beginner. And be aware, the conditions can change quickly.
- 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.
- You should wear a suitable personal flotation device. This can be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Choose one that still allows you plenty of movement so you can paddle freely. Not only will it keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in – and chances are you will!
- Wear suitable clothing for the time of year. In the winter, you will want to use a wet or dry suit. In the summer, you might be able to get away with a swimsuit, but if you are going to be in the water for a long time, you might want to upgrade to something that keeps you warm.
- You should always use a paddleboard with an appropriate leash. There’s nothing more frustrating than 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. It is really important to choose the right type of leash for where you are paddling:
- A straight leash if you are surfing
- A coiled leash with a quick release belt for any other location, especially if you are exploring estuaries or other environments where there is a chance of entanglement on buoys or other obstacles
Our friends at British Canoeing have some great tips on leash selection