Stand Up Paddleboarding in Dorset | A Beginners Guide
We love stand up paddleboarding, there’s a reason it’s one of the world’s fastest growing watersports. Records of earlier types of paddleboarding date up to 3,000 years ago but modern stand up paddleboarding (or SUP) originated in Hawaii as an offshoot of surfing. We run sessions along the Jurassic Coast to explore the stunning Dorset coastline, if you are new to stand up paddleboarding or want to learn the basic skills needed to get going here is our beginners guide….
How do I learn how to stand up paddleboard?
We’ve all seen groups of paddleboarders serenely gliding along the surface of the sea, effortlessly propelling themselves along, making it look oh so easy- but how do you even start?
The easiest way to begin on a paddleboard is ‘prone’- which is just a posh way of laying down!
Using your arms either side of the board you can paddle as if swimming front crawl. This is often the best way to get around if you’re in a particularly windy area, or trying to get past breaking waves at the beach.
Once you’re comfortable ‘prone’ you can graduate to kneeling. Staying in the centre of the board, and keeping your knees about shoulder width apart, you can begin to use your paddle to propel yourself through the water. Again, being lower to the water can help in windier conditions, or when the water is slightly choppier, as you’ll be more stable with a lower centre of gravity.
At this point, if you’re feeling brave, you can try standing! Most people find it easiest to go on all fours, and stand one foot at a time. Top tips here are to keep your focus on the horizon (if you’re looking down at the water, chances are that’s where you’ll fall!) Try and find something that won’t move to focus on and get your paddle in the water as quickly as possible, as this will give you an extra level of balance.
Most boards have a handle in the centre, this is a good guide for where to put your feet- either side of the handle is great. It’s also a good idea to keep a slight bend in your knees to help with balancing.
Remember that most beginners will usually fall off so don’t be disheartened! Jump back on and keep trying!
What else do I need to know?
Holding the paddle the correct way will help you paddle in the most efficient way- most will have a ‘T’ grip at the top so you can hold this comfortably at the top of the paddle, while using your other hand to grip the shaft.
SUP paddles also tend to have an offset blade, meaning you need to paddle with the blade bending away from you, this means your paddle will catch the maximum amount of water, helping you paddle more easily.
There are a number of methods to measure your paddle to fit you perfectly, but a good rule of thumb is with the paddle vertically in front of you (on dry land) you should be able to hold the T grip with your arm full extended above your head. A good way to check your paddle length is to ensure the full blade is fully submerged in the water while you’re paddling without you needing to bend down to reach.
The conditions you paddle in, and your own skill level, will dictate what kit you’ll need for paddling.
If you’re SUPing in the great British weather, a wetsuit is normally helpful to keep you warm (especially if you’re going to fall in!) and if you’re in the sea or deep water a PFD or buoyancy aid is an important piece of kit to keep you safe.
Last but definitely not least- always wear the leash to attach you to your board, this is an important safety feature that shouldn’t be forgotten!
Want to learn more?
If we’ve whetted your appetite for all things SUP, why not come and join us in Studland, with awesome Old Harry Rocks in the background, our instructors will help you feel comfortable, and find your sea legs on a Stand Up Paddleboard in Studland!