The stand-up paddle bug bites hard, and it has a lot of people dying to get on the water. But beware the marketing ploy of the beginner SUP board. As tricky as balancing on the water may seem, it only takes twenty minutes to learn how to stand-up paddle. Really. The learning curve is that gentle. Who wants to drop somewhere around $1,000 on an entry-level board when you’ll go from beginner to intermediate paddler your first day out?
So what’s the first-time paddler to do? A board demo is always wise. You can test different board types, lengths and brands to get an idea of what you like. If a demo isn’t an option, your best bet is choosing a board based on your size and activity. Are you looking for the best board to cruise the lake? Something the whole family can use? Planning to enter a race sometime this year? Figure out how you’ll be using the board to narrow your options down to the right style and then zero in on the perfect choice based on your height and weight. A few tips:
1. Manufacturers provide board specs and recommendations, so use those guidelines to find a board with enough volume and the right length and width to perform in your local water. The wider the board, the more stability you can expect. The narrower a board, the faster it will go.
2. If you aren’t using the board for surf, don’t buy a surf-style paddleboard. A flatwater paddleboard has a displacement hull, which is designed to cut through the water far more efficiently.
3. The average adult will need a board at least 11’6” in length for stability and performance when you’re paddling the lake, river, harbors, and beyond the surf break (oceans)!
Whatever you do, don’t buy a stand-up paddleboard based on your current skill level. Even a highly technical design like LPC’s Stealth can be mastered by a first-timer in just a few days. When you buy a board well suited to you and how you’ll be using it, it’s a solid investment. Treat it with care, and you’ll get years of paddling satisfaction.