The sport of SUP (stand up paddle) boarding is refreshing, thrilling and adventurous. It is perhaps a wonderful way that avails you the leisure of racing on the surface of water. However, to keep up the zeal and ecstasy of the activity and to avoid frustration and discouragement as a beginner, you need to keep the necessary information in mind before paddle boarding in the water. Randomly picking a paddleboard without correct judgement is the most common mistake that a beginner may commit. Therefore, it is important to know the basics of choosing the right paddleboard.
While making the selection of paddleboard, one must keep the following factors in mind:
- Kinds of paddleboards
- Size of the paddleboards
- Your height
- The kind of paddling that you intend to do
- The experience level
Kinds Of Paddleboards
Based on the type of activity and construction, there are different kinds of SUP boards. Activity-based SUP boards include:
- All-Around: (Size 10’-12’ long and 32’’ in wide) They are the best option for beginners, and are suitable for yoga, fishing and surfing through small waves. They are the most common boards.
- Touring: (Size 12’-13’ long and 30-32 wide) They are better for long distance paddling, faster than all-around and safer than race SUP.
- Fishing: (Size 11-12’ long and 34-36’’ wide) They are specifically designed for fishing purpose.
- Yoga: (Size 10’6’’ and 34’’ wide) They have wide rounded nose and tail, special designed for yoga purpose.
- Racing: (Size 12’6-14’ long and 24-27’’ wide) They are long and tremendously narrow that aid to its lesser stability. However, their performance in gliding through the water is better than any other board. They are always hard composite boards.
- Surfing: They are hard composite boards and are best for surfing. They are mostly shorter than other boards.
- River Whitewater: (Size 9’6 long and 36’’ wide) They are short and compact. Inflatable boards are best for it. To remain stable in water, they are wide and double as yoga boards.
Construction-based boards are as follows:
- Hard Composite: For optimal performance hard paddleboards are the best option. These boards are faster and easier. Further divided into two sub-constructions i.e. foam/fiberglass and pop outs.
- Inflatable: on account of their durability and portability inflatables are the best option and are very popular. However, the performance level is not good as hard paddleboards. Inflatable SUP boards perform well but not as good as hard paddleboards
- Foam: They are the best option for kids and beginners. They are extremely durable and light in weight. For general cruising, yoga and beginners, these are the paddleboards that you need.
- Plastic: They are the cheapest type of paddleboards. However, they are heavy and poor in performance. They are not faster and hard to paddle. In addition, their gliding performance is not good and also difficult to turn.
Size/Length of the Paddleboard
In order to support your body weight, the size of the SUP board is of key importance. It must be sufficient to support your weight displacing enough water to move you through the water surface. Now the size factor differs for different ages, experience level and kinds of paddling. As a beginner, the board should be comfortable enough to aid learning SUP boarding.
The average size of the paddleboards is 10’ to 11’6’ that work perfectly well for beginners. People with high experience level select shorter boards for their greater maneuverability. For racing and touring purpose, longer paddleboards are used because they are faster than shorter boards ranging in size from 12.6’ to 14’. They are best for racing, touring, long distance travelling.
Width of the paddleboards also plays an important role in stability. Wider boards are ideal for grown-ups and heavy weighted people. The factor of width and thickness along with height play their part in displacement of your body weight through the water surface. Narrow paddleboards are best suited for small and light weighted paddlers.
The height factor is important in keeping the balance on the paddleboard as the center of gravity changes with the height of a person. A small person can easily keep balance on a narrow board, while a big person can find it hard to keep the balance; therefore a wider board can be taken into account in this regard. Similarly, if you take the opposite scenario, a small person can find it hard to keep the balance on a wider board.
Kind of Paddling:
The right king of SUP board is determined by the kind of paddling that you intend to perform. For example:
- If you are interested in riding the water waves in surf zone, you are advised to choose a SUP surfing board. In comparison with the all-around SUPs, they are shorter, narrower, and pointed nose.
- For beginners, all-around boards are the best choice on account of their stability and great performance in almost every condition. In size, they range from 10’ to 12’ in length and 29’ to 32’’ in width.
- For the purpose of flat water paddling and specifically through longer distances, touring SUPs make a great choice. Comparatively, they are narrower and longer than all-around boards ranging from 12’6 to 14’ in length. At front, they have pointed nose that enables to split the water encountering less drag. Therefore, they are great at maintaining course.
- For the purpose of exercise, yoga and fitness routines are performed with paddleboarding. The coordination, focus, maneuverability during paddleboarding gives you a great workout too. For better stability and balancing during paddleboarding, wider boards in between 32’ to 36’ are used.
In conclusion, we can say that the right selection of SUP boards for paddleboarding is determined by the kind of paddling that you intend to do, the size of board that must support your weight, and the level of your experience. There are different kinds of SUP boards that have their own application in different conditions. All you need to do is to examine the above mentioned factors and to make a choice of your own suitability.