What do I need to SUP ?
At its most basic you are going to need a board, a paddle and a leash. You can buy extras such as deck grip, or if you are short of cash you can use surf wax. It is also advisable to get some ding repair materials as well, just so you are prepared for any eventuality. Make sure that you get the correct repair material for the construction of your board (i.e. Epoxy repair for epoxy boards, normal resin for glass and resin boards).
What Stand Up Paddle Board should I get ?
This depends upon your experience, your height/weight and whether you want to flat water paddle, surf or a bit of both. If you are completely new to surfing or any watersport then you need to go at least 11ft and around 30 inches wide. This means the board will be stable and you can get used to paddling. If you are more experienced you could go for "crossover" stand up paddle board, which are generally narrower and closer to a longboard, these allow a more progressive style, but are not as stable for paddling out/flat water.
Don't be put off by the length of these boards, once they get speed up on a wave they loosen up alot, if you get your foot far enough back you can whip turns to make longboards jealous !
What Paddle should I get ?
The starting point is the size of the paddle. The combined height of the paddle and shaft need to be 6-8 inches taller than your height. If you are over 6ft check carefully that the paddle you are going to get meets this criteria, some paddles on the market are going to be too short and it puts alot of strain on your arms and lower back if your paddle is too short as you keep having to bend forward to get a decent paddle stroke.
Full carbon paddles are expensive in the UK, anything up to £275. Once you understand this you can get over it and move on ! The cost is related to the fact that we have few manufacturers (at this time) in the UK and all the kit tends to be imported from overseas (mainly Hawaii and the US). One of the most popular brands at the moment are C4 Pohaku and they produce a good range from the hybrid wood shaft/carbon blade to all carbon versions. Do not get the wood hybrid paddle if you are over 6ft 2 inches tall - it will be too short. Also British firm Ainsworth Paddles are doing a great fibre glass/plastic blade paddle for under £40. Well worth checking out if you are on a budget.
Cutting your Stand Up Paddle to the Correct Length
When you get your paddle you may need to cut the shaft to the correct length and glue the handle back on. To do this:
- Measure your height onto the paddle startin from the bottom of the blade (or get someone to hold it againt you and mark off your height on the shaft in pencil.
- Measure another 6 to 8 inches on top of your height and mark this off in pencil (cut it closer to 8'' for flat water and closer to 6'' for surf, if you do both then go for 7'').
- Put electrical tape midway over your mark all the way around the shaft (this stops the wood or carbon from splintering when you saw the extra shaft off).
- Use a hack saw or a similar saw with small teeth on the blade to cut through the tape and the shaft - take it slowly and surely and do not rush or you risk damage to the shaft.
- Once you have the shaft to the correct height use sand paper (on wood) or wet and dry paper (on carbon) to smooth the edges where you sawed (they need to be super smooth so bits don't splinter into your hand when you are paddling so take your time). Make sure the inside of the shaft (if it is carbon) is free from dust. You can slightly rough up the inside surface to help the glue to stick, but clean out any dust.
- Time to glue on the handle. Use Araldite (the slow cure version is stronger) to glue the handle onto the shaft. Make sure you align it properly with the blade. Wipe any excess glue off straight away.
- If you have a carbon shaft, once it has set use bathroom silicon sealant around the point where the shaft and handle meet, then use electrical tape to cover the join. This is to prevent water getting into the shaft.
Why do I need a leash ?
A leash will stop your board running away and hitting someone else when you fall off. Stand up paddle boards are big things and could seriously injure somebody if they hit them. A leash is an essential. You need to make sure that your leash is about 1ft longer than your board if you are going to do cool stuff like nose riding (otherwise you won't make it to the end of the board !). If you know you are falling off, or if you bail out intentionally because a big wave is coming that you can't make it over, try and grab the leash as close to the board as possible, this means that you control, as much as possible, the board in the surf, preventing it from racing off and potentially hitting someone else. If you are going to surf please avoid the coiled XM leashes. While they are perfect for distance paddling they are dangerous in the surf as they get tangled up, making the leash shorter and the board more likely to fly back and hit you.
Deck grip or Wax ?
If you have the money get deck grip. Some of the deck grips that are on the market now are contoured to help with you paddling posture and are kinder on the feet. If you can't afford deck grip surf wax is a good substitute.
Fixing Deck Grip to a Stand Up Paddle Board.
Fixing the deck grip on can be fun (there is an awful lot of it - its hard to reposition if you get it wrong). Here is a step by step guide :
- Make sure the surface of the board is spotless and clean (wipe with a cloth and dry). Take the fin off and place the board on a smooth surface making sure there are no stones or anything pointy under the board (carpet is ideal).
- Before you take the backing off the sticky side of the grip, position it onto the deck until you get it on exactly where you want it.
- Put three short strips of electrical tape on either side of the deck grip, holding it onto the board.
- Make sure this is exacty where you want the desk grip to be.
- Very carefully pull up the rear two electrical tape strips and, making sure the rest of the desk grip is still in place, pull off about 6 inches of backing. Make sure you pull it off towards the front on the board.
- Fold the backing under the rest of the grip, check again that the top part of the grip is still positioned onto the board in the right place, held down by the electrical tape. From the FRONT of the board (definitley not the rear) push the exposed sticky surface onto the deck of the board. Slowly and surely does it. It should go down smooth and when you look back at the board everything should be in position with no creases or folds in the grip, the 6 inches of rear grip held on by the adhesive, the front still held on by electrical tape.
- If you are happy that all is well and everything is in position (if not reposition the rear section - its a horrid job - you are much better off taking your time and getting it right), then remove the remaining electrical tape, pull up the deck grip and remove all of the remaining backing off the adhesive. Hold the front of the grip in the air - do not allow it to touch the board. Still holding the front of the grip stand on the rear section that is already stuck down and very, very slowly walk the grip onto the board, slowly going left to right to ensure that it is even and flat on the board. If you are not confident to "walk it on" then you need two people - one to hold the grip up, the other to smooth it onto the board, from the rear, with thier hands.
- Once it is all on walk all over the grip slowly, taking time shuffling all around the edges to ensure that it is totally glued down. Lift the board up and check it has stuck, if not use your fingers and feet to get it to stick. The deck grips are very big so you will probably have afew small bubbles of air in the grip. Use a sharp knife (craft knife is good) and very carefully push it through the air bubble. Be very careful to only pierce the bubble - do not let the knife go into the board. Once pierced use your fingers to push down the grip and expell the air. It will stick down. Take your time doing this to ensure all air bubbles are removed.
- Leave it overnight for the glue to cure and thats it !
What fin should I get ?
This subject almost deserves a whole website to itself. Fins have a dramatic impact of performance, and it depends on what make and type of board you have to what fin will work best. It also depends on what sort of stand up paddle surfing you are going to do.
A general rule of thumb is if you want to glide on flat water anything from 11- 14 inches will be fine. It will glide nicely and will hold direction well (but will be slightly harder to turn). If you want to surf on your board from 7 to 10 inches is the best size. This is a very general rule as different boards will behave in totally different ways.