Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fast growing sport.
I see many boats now have one on the side decks. I have been Supping for about 6 years, and l enjoy getting about on the board most days. Weather permitting.
As the popularity of the sport grows, the choice on the market is also growing. On a boat, an inflatable board is the way to go. They roll up to the size of an average sail, and can be stowed in a locker when on passage.
Now having decided that you fancy one which do you buy?
Price for an average board vary tremendously a few hundred to over a thousand pound or similar in Euros now.
You do get what you pay for, and there are quite a few sites that can give you advise on what to buy, sadly they nearly all have a commercial element to their sites, but for a reasonable guide have a look at https://www.kingofwatersports.com/stand-up-paddle-boarding-buying-guide.
This gives various sizes, paddle guidance and safety information.
One of the main points I want to make is that if you are a reasonably keen person wanting to get a bit more out of the sport, than tootling lazily around the boat, be careful what you select. The best type of board for average weight and height would be between 10.3 and 11.6 feet length average width 32 inches. The critical factor is the thickness of the board when inflated.
Cheaper boards tend to be between 5, but mostly 6 inches. This is because they of the way they are constructed for a price to appeal. If you want a board that will track well and be stiffer, look for one that is about 4.75 inches thick. The construction of these board is different. They are much stiffer consequently perform much much better. But as with everything there is a difference in price.
I have not mentioned brands, I just wanted to open members minds as to what is available. Nearly all are PVC not Hypalon, and when left inflated on deck in hot temperatures it is wise to let a bit of air out to save the board exploding. A cover is useful to stop fading and offer some protection to the colour loss.
Paddles come in various quality, the lower priced are fine for tootling about, but you can get fibreglass for a small extra amount, the ultimate is carbon fibre, and recommended for keen paddlers.
Paddles come in one piece two piece or three piece which are great for travelling or stowing in a locker.
Safety is important, you should always wear a leash, again many different ones on the market, but consider a coiled one so it is compact when using it but it will stretch when you do fall off.
Life jackets are available and obviously recommended. I wear one when conditions dictate, but it is inflatable and sits around my waist in a bum bag type of thing and can be deployed quickly..
All boards need a skeg to help you track, these can either be fixed on the board during construction, or separately and fit in a skeg box. Both work well, the fixed type are very forgiving and can be run up to beach with care.
Most boards these days have a netting or bungee on the deck to carry a bit of kit such as fins and snorkel, water etc. A dry bag is useful if you are going on a trip.
Some have optional seats so you can paddle like a kayak. As with everything you have to make your choice.
Nearly all come with carry bags sometimes in ruck sack style with wheels as well for those traipses though airports etc.
Now to inflate the board, they usually come with a vertical type of pump. Some are single cylinder , the better ones are double cylinder pumps so they inflate the board rapidly, and you just release valve on the pump to get the final pressure up to recommended PSI. You can get electric pumps, but isn’t that cheating when the idea is to get some physical exercise? ,!
We use our board for those quick trips ashore for the bread, or to ferry Sue and I ashore rather than launch the dinghy.
Last week .i used it to exchange a 13kg butane gas bottle in the quay side shop, That was interesting, but accomplished successfully!
So hopefully this has given you some pointers so KEEP ON SUPPING!
Brian S/V Darramy
Supping in in the Peloponnisos