SUP Exposed Waters Skills


Paddling in exposed water is second level of stand up paddle knowledge and skills . 

Locations and Conditions 

Exposed waters paddling locations are defined as: 

  • Coastal beaches and bays open to the ocean
  • Harbours and large inland bodies of water greater than 1 km (0.6 miles) wide 
  • Shore-break no more than 0.5 metres (1 ½ ft.) 
  • Swell size no more than 0.6 metres (2 ft.)
  • No breaking waves 
  • Wind speed less than 12 knots 
  • Offshore wind less than 10 knots 
  • Water depth no less than 1 metre (3 ft.)
  • Free from hazards
  • No more than 250 metres (820ft) from shore
  • At least 200 metres (660ft) from a river mouth


Before paddling at this level, you should:

  • know how to swim 50 metres (164 ft), without stopping.
  • have enclosed flat water paddling skills.


Flat water stand up paddle board
Coiled leash

Skills and Knowledge

To paddle correctly and safely at this level, requires the following skills and knowledge:  

Environment & Safety

  • Identify surface water movement, current direction, rips 
  • Identify wind direction and strength and affect on paddling
  • Identify SUP hazards in bumpy waters
  • Choose a safe SUP exposed waters location
  • Identify self rescue techniques and when to apply them
  • Apply SUP etiquette at exposed waters locations

Equipment & Clothing

  • Choose suitable flat water board, leash and equipment
  • Choose suitable clothing for paddling

Paddle Skills

  • Identify safe entry and exit points
  • Identify techniques to negotiate shore-breaks up to 1½ ft
  • Identify paddling technique and stance used in choppy waters
  • Fall and retrieve techniques in uneven waters and wind
  • Identify techniques to negotiate swell - side on, front on and swell from behind  
  • Demonstrate turns in exposed waters: Back paddling and sweep turns
  • Perform step back pivot turn (heel side & toe side) 
  • Perform kahi stroke & reverse kahi stroke