Again this year, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is one of the hottest water sports. For beginners, the question arises: Which board is right for me? The star asked an expert.
In recent years, Stand Up Paddling has become a popular trend sport. “In the past, you didn’t know where to classify SUP: rowing or surfing,” says Peter from SUP LEGION, recalling the beginnings of water sports. “Today people are considering whether stand up paddling should possibly become an Olympic sport”. The SUP trainer has been teaching the art of paddling for six years and knows what is important when buying a board – and what beginners should know before they buy a board.
Hardboards vs. Inflatables: You should know that
There are two different types of boards: hardboards and inflatables. The former were the pioneers of Stand Up Paddling, which are characterized by a solid foam core and are very elaborately built. However, they are also more prone to punctures: “If you ride it against a bridge, for example, the board gets small cracks that draw water. This makes it heavier, but it still floats. But if it is left outside in winter, what has got into it freezes Water – if it then thaws again in summer, the board breaks apart,” says Peter, explaining the disadvantages of a hardboard. In addition, you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket for high-quality models. For comparison: “Inexpensive models are between 600 and 800 euros, raceboards go up to 5,000 euros”.
The SUP rental where he works still offers both variants. The trend is clearly towards inflatables, i.e. inflatable boards. The advantages are obvious: “They are simply more practical because they are easier to transport. You deflate them, fold them up and put them in your backpack”. But here too there is an individual price range – for a good inflatable you pay between 800 and 2000 euros. However, there are also affordable models from 300 euros, which are primarily sufficient for “Sunday paddlers”, i.e. occasional excursions.
“For cheap boards, I recommend brands like Aqua Marina. The lifespan is not that long, so we don’t use such boards for rental – you get a whole set including backpack and pump,” says Peter. In his opinion, even a cheap board can last two to three years if you take good care of it and don’t leave it in the sun for too long. “These sets are perfect for those who just want to paddle a little every now and then”. For professionals, on the other hand, he recommends high-quality brands such as Starboard, Fanatic, Mistral or JP Australia.
Tips from the professional: You should consider this when buying
In Peter’s experience, the classic board sells the most because it’s the most popular. But is it automatically suitable for beginners and professionals alike? Here the answer is quite clear: No! “For beginners, I recommend getting a wide board with lots of buoyancy first, so they get confident on the water.” With a lot of buoyancy it is meant that the boards are slightly thicker, wider and also longer and therefore have more volume so that they can carry more weight. “To find the right board for the right weight, you can also get advice from a specialist retailer.” The SUP trainer also adds that it is possible to test a board before you buy it – to find out if you like it. “There are special SUP events where various manufacturers are represented and where you can usually try the boards for free. Or you can go to a SUP rental company like ours and try out some models there,” suggests Peter.
“Advanced users should first think about what they want to do with the board. If they want to go faster, they need a narrow and long board, for example a racer. That’s why it’s very shaky. I want to surf with it, which is also possible with SUP I need a wide but short model,” explains the trainer. And you can also choose between different sizes for the paddle: from a 120 blade to an 80 blade. “For beginners, I recommend the middle. Because the wider the blade, the more strenuous the movement in the water.”
When it comes to accessories, prospective buyers often ask themselves whether they need special protective clothing on the lake. Because even if SUP seems harmless at first glance, the water is not without danger: just last summer, a paddler drowned in Lake Constance, and he was only 200 meters from the shore. That’s why the following applies here: Safety first! Even if it doesn’t look very stylish, a life jacket can save lives in case of doubt. It’s not expensive either. And the purchase is worthwhile in any case.
In addition, a light wetsuit is recommended in summer. It protects against the sun and wind if you do fly into the water and – unlike cotton hoodies or T-shirts – it doesn’t get soaked up. In addition, it dries much, much faster. On the other hand, if you don’t want to do without stand up paddling in winter, you should always wear a special dry suit. It prevents you from getting wet if you fall into the ice-cold water. It is best to wear ski underwear or footballer winter gear underneath to keep you warm on the board.
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