Stand Up Paddle may look easy, but it's essential to keep SUP safety in mind. Here are 12 tips to keep safe when paddling.
1. PADDLE IN FLAT WATER.
Choose a SUP location with flat water. Rivers and lakes are ideal. Know the location, its associated hazards. Stay away from boats, moorings, submerged tree branches or anything that you could fall onto.
2. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LEASH.
Your leash is your life line. It attaches to your ankle and the board. Wear it all times. SUP boards travel very easily and fast over the water. If you fall off your SUP board, it could mean a long swim to retrieve your board. If you have your leash on, your board will stay close to you.
Someone told me leashes are dangerous. No, that is not true. You must know how to use the leash correctly.
Use a coiled leash only, so it does not drag on the water and risk becoming entangled with weed or branches.
Stay away from water hazards such weeds and branches and other underwater obstructions.
Know how to use the quick release on your leash.
3. WEATHER CONDITIONS.
Don’t paddle out if it’s windy. Wind can easily blow you far away from your starting location. And it is very difficult to paddle against the wind. You will soon tire yourself out.
Check weather conditions before you go out. The wind could change from one second to the other and you will struggle getting back to your starting location. As you spend more time on your SUP you will be able to assess the weather more accurately.
4. AVOID FAST FLOWING WATER.
Only go out in still, slow moving water. Flowing water makes it difficult to paddle and can carry you far away. You can become tired quickly if you have to paddle against flowing water.
5. STAY CLOSE TO SHORE.
You can travel quite fast whilst supping and before you know it, you can be a long way from the shore. If you tire out, you don’t want a long way to paddle back to shore. Always keep a watch on the shoreline, and change direction regularly, to make sure you are close.
6. SIT DOWN.
If hazards are close by, or you are feeling unsteady, paddle on your knees or on your bum. This lowers your centre of balance and there is less risk of falling off and onto the hazards.
7. KEEP 360° AWARENESS.
Whilst out on the water, has constant awareness, watch out for other water crafts such as jetski’s, boats and other water users. Stay away from them to avoid collisions.
8. PADDLE WITH A 'BUDDY'.
Go out with a partner, it is always good to have someone there to help you out if you need it. If paddling longer distances, alert the maritime authorities.
9. SUP RENTALS / HIRE
Only rent or hire SUP boards if you are experienced and know the local location. There are many locations not suitable for paddling and can have hidden dangers. Weather conditions can also be unpredictable in some locations. Only rent or hire boards from an ASI accredited SUP School – they will give you safe paddling locations and proper weather information, suitable and safe equipment.
10. INFLATABLE SUP BOARDS
These boards are quite strong but there is a possibility they could deflate or tear. If you are on inflatable board, make sure you stay close to shore at all times. Just in case you have to swim to shore.
11. AVOID MUSCLE INJURY
Even though SUP paddling looks easy, you need correct paddling technique to avoid repetitive muscle injury. Have lessons with an ASI accredited school so you have an understanding of the correct paddling technique.
12. BE SUP SAVVY.
Knowing more about the sport will ensure you SUP safely.
Take some stand up paddle lessons at ASI accredited SUP Schools with qualified ASI instructors, and get as much information about supping so you stay safe
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