Recently I bought my brand new sup paddle board and the funny thing about it is the fact that I only found out about them just a couple of months ago. Well don't get me wrong here, I've seen folks paddling on boards before it's just that I never payed much attention to them.
So I'm camping in Croatia with my family and one day these three girls pop up in the camping site and start pumping something. A few minutes later three, approximately 10'inflatable boards were laid out in front of them and a not that long after all three of them were paddling the crystal clear Adriatic Sea. It certainly looked like something that might interest me and a perfect addition for my camper van trips.
In the past years I learned to follow my heart and to distinguish the "must have" ego based mind from that. But stand up paddling simply felt like the right thing to do. I spent the rest of my vacation time researching all about paddle boarding and a few weeks later on my Red Paddle inflatable came on my doorstep in a box.
My brand new sup paddle board took me on a trip to a nearby lake for our first tryout. Well the board surely knew how to float it was me that I was kind of worried about. I watched a few video tutorials before, but trying to stand up on a sup board in the middle of a lake was another thing.
For an easier understanding, let's just say that it's a crossbreed between a surf and a canoe. The sail is gone with and you do get to paddle mostly standing on your board and gliding over water. However, I did spot models with an sail option, but that's another story.
Standing up for the first time was kind of scary, but I soon discovered that the boards stability issues are affected mostly by ones fear factor. The boards themselves are rock stable and only your own fears will tip you over most of the time. At least in calm waters.
The basics of sup paddle boarding can be learned within an hour or so and you will pick up the rest of the tricks along the way. The more you paddle the more you will learn. And if you're made for it, you will keep on paddling until your body aches. But that will hardly ever happen.
"Greg, this is addictive", were my wife's first words after her first solo trip on the mystic foggy lake Bohinj in Slovenia. I guess her words perfectly describe most of my feelings experienced connected with paddle boarding itself.
Water is my favorite playground, but I never imagined the impact a sup paddle board would have on me. This simple and practical gadget originating from Hawaii is nothing new to this world and it only got kind of rejuvenated a few years ago and properly introduced to the public. For many of us it opened up a brand new reality all ready to experience. And some of us just can't seem to stop paddling anymore.
One thing that I quickly realized is that I can paddle for hours with hardly any fatigue. Now I'm not one of those extreme-sport fans and riding my push bike and talking my dog on long walks around the country side are my sports. I also never imagined myself standing on my legs for several hours in a row, but by paddling around, hey, nothing to it.
My four year old twins made some first steps by riding along with me. Jumping in water for the first time and swimming around the board are tops. Now they're trying to master the paddle and ride technique on their own and I really don't know who has more fun. My wife and I watching them or them trying to paddle and keeping the balance!
The most beautiful part are the long trips all alone and packed up with some essentials in a dry bag. Quality time with yourself is important for most of us and here you get plenty of it. If you feel like swimming, no problem, just dive in and enjoy yourself. When you get hungry, well the on the water snack bar opens up anytime you feel like it right from your cooler or dry bag.
And just in case you feel a bit tired or have a strong urge to meditate for a while, well just lie down on your sup paddle board and do it! I've even managed to doze off for an hour or so!
Loosing complete track of time is something that always happens to me on my sup paddle board. Four or five hours simply vanish in thin air and if it wasn't for the sunset, I would just keep on going. And the only remedy is just that, well at least for the next time around.
Gliding on water and absorbing the scenery and life on shore is a remedy of it's own. Paddle boarding is extremely easy, relaxing and fun but it can also more then fulfill the your adrenaline needs on waves and rapids. It's a fantastic work out just like my push scooter for example, where your entire body and muscles are equally involved and most important of all, you get to do all that out on fresh air.
Okay, the boards are not exactly dirt cheap, but this sport is still quite accessible to most of us and it doesn't require loads of additional gear. To get you started, a suitable sup paddle and a must safety leash will do the trick. On longer runs you'll need things like a dry bag or some warmer quick-dry clothing and a wet or dry suit if you intend to keep on paddling through the colder months of the year.
You really have to experience this relaxing and intense feeling of gliding on water to fully understand it. Your mind, body and soul will benefit intensively and stress will be something from far away.
You can stand up or kneel if you want to. You can glide with ease, hit the waves or the rapids or as an alternative, try practicing yoga or fishing for example. Yes, it's all doable on a board.
And if you do fall in water for any of the unsuspected reasons, keep in mind that climbing back on the board is just so much faster and easier than climbing back in a kayak or canoe. Years ago my wife and I had one of these, with our wet buts, backs and legs always aching. Well it's a fun ride, but the sup paddle board is by far more practical, comfortable and much lighter to carry around for us.
If you're into racing or custom and hand made wood on the wall fine piece of art over the winter, then carbon fiber or wood is the material you're looking for.
The easier to store space saver inflatable and almost indestructible boards however, will fully satisfy most of your needs. The technology behind most of them is on very advanced level today and inflatables are used for various different purposes including hard core tours through various unexplored parts of our world.
My Red Paddle Ride is an inflatable all around cruiser. I need a pretty large board to carry my young twins and some gear on it. To say the truth, this is a perfect board that fits the bill for all my needs mentioned above and it also handles quite well when the sea rises up a bit. Kids love the waves and packed up in a back pack, this board really fits just about anywhere including my Volkswagen camper van.
One of the girls that offers paddle board lessons in my country packs up to 8 inflatables in her tiny car for her classes. Now let me ask you a question. How many hard ones would you be able to carry in such a vehicle? One or two probably and you do need a roof rack to do it, so there you have it.
All manufacturers supply the inflatables with air pumps that will pump up to the recommended 1.5 psi in a matter of minutes. However do keep in mind that the boards need to be stiff and pumping will make you sweat. Just take that as warming up before paddling!
Take your pick to suit your needs between boards for different types of action:
And I have a strong feeling that there's more to come but sometimes it's really hard to distinguish one board from the other.
Most of images with people riding their sup paddle boards portrait exiting and leisurely exploring. In real life, the wind changes direction and the waves build up unexpectedly and unless you're close to the shore on a warm summer day, trouble will find you in a blink of an eye. Never underestimate weather conditions.
Therefore and for your own safety always wear at least a leash! When winds build up and a wave throws you off your board, any board will drift away from you so fast that you likely wont be able to catch it again. Unless you're a top ace swimmer and the water is warm enough it will become very exhausting to swim in open waters without it. Remember that the leash is your life line to the board!
A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) keeps you warmer and safer in harsh weather conditions. So if you plan to paddle further from the coast, wear one. It might save your life.
Please keep in mind, that experienced sportsmen lost their lives paddle boarding by not using or misusing the above. It's a fun sport, but never underestimate your abilities and always use the above precautions when paddling far away.
Before you go out and buy your own sup paddle board, consider renting or hiring a board. Or try one of the more organized groups that specialize in SUP tours. Discover Slovenia for example will organize an all inclusive tour for you and guide you through our beautiful country on water. It just might be one amazing experience...