If you love the sun, sand and surfing, a stand up paddle board could be your new best friend. Combining a surfboard-style board with an extra long canoe paddle, SUPs offer the ability to travel away from the surfing crowds to undiscovered breaks in the waves.
Stand up paddleboards, or SUPs for short, have been around since man first took to the ocean. Although an activity around for aeons, SUPs have only recently, since the 90s, resurged back into popular culture and into every water sport lover's heart. The concept was simple, grab a surfboard and stand on it while you propel yourself using a canoe paddle. SUPs have evolved to be so much more than that these days, with paddleboards now being created for a whole range of activities.
Stand up paddle boards can be broken into three main categories, each better suited to different scenarios than others.
Surf SUPs are short, fairly narrow paddleboards with upturned noses and tails. Although not extremely stable, surf SUPs are perfect when you want to paddle out and catch some waves.
Race or touring SUPs are designed for flat water paddling only. They have been created for maximum speed and efficiency across the water. Race and touring SUPs have long, yet narrow bodies, making them unstable in choppy conditions and harder to manoeuvre in a hurry.
All-rounder SUPs are for paddlers that love a bit of everything. They come in a range of lengths but tend to be wider than the other types. They are extremely versatile and can be used in the surf and flat water with ease. If you’re a beginner, this is likely the board for you.
When deciding on your SUP, it is important to consider the materials it is made from and the benefits that come with each.
Solid SUPs are made from either epoxy fibreglass or carbon. They provide far better ‘feel’ and are generally more responsive than an inflatable SUP. A solid paddleboard will outperform the majority of inflatable SUPs when hitting the surf or racing for first place. Riders have also reported that they feel more stable on a solid board, as inflatable boards tend to flex against the waves. Hard shell boards need to be transported via roof racks or in the boot of a large vehicle, as well as needing plenty of room at home to store it.
Inflatable SUPs, commonly known as iSUPs, are made from PVC and use drop-stitch construction to distribute the air around the board. Inflatable boards are the perfect way for city dwellers and other space-poor people to indulge themselves in the sport. They can be packed into a small bundle, so much so that some paddlers have taken them on overseas holidays before. Inflatable SUPs are also used when whitewater stand up paddling, as they can absorb impacts better than solid boards.
If you are keen to join in on the latest watersport taking the world by storm, check out our SUP Tips for Beginners!