Top 10 Stand Up Paddling Questions And Answers

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by: Marina Andriola

The Woman of Standup Paddling 17

How difficult is stand up paddling?

Part of the appeal of stand up paddling is that it is a relatively easy activity to learn for people of any age or fitness level. If you can stand up on land, you will be able to stand up paddle. Variables like wind, chop and the width of your board will contribute to challenges that can make your sup session more difficult. Because of its versatility, sup is a sport that will continue to grow with your skill level.

How do you hold a paddle?

Make as large of an equal-sided triangle as possible, with your arms being two sides of the triangle, and the shaft of the paddle as the third side. Your top hand goes on the grip of the paddle, and your bottom hand on the shaft. When you paddle on the right, your top hand is on the left, and the shaft of the paddle is across your body, with the blade in the water. BTW, the blade always faces up, like a spoon, which looks wrong to most people at first. Some paddlers switch sides with every stroke, but most will prefer to take three to five strokes before switching sides. Some paddle surfers learn how to paddle in a straight line without switching sides at all. Find your own rhythm. Start paddling, and when you feel ready, switch sides.

How many calories does a person burn while stand up paddling?

You will burn more calories than nearly any other exercise activity. Just standing up (on land) burns about 350 calories in just two hours. That’s because when we stand, we burn many more calories than when we sit. When we stand while keeping ourselves balancing on our boards by tensing and releasing muscles, our calorie burn jumps up to about 250 calories per hour. Start paddling, and that number continues to go up. Racing, downwind or surf paddlers burn even more: An amazing 1000+ calories per hour is not abnormal. A paddler flying downwind at an average speed of 9 miles per hour is moving quickly, and getting that kind of maximum calorie burn. Run fast on a treadmill and you’ll burn about 650 calories per hour. Cruise for an hour up the coast or stretch out for an hour of yoga on your board, and you’ll also burn well over 500 calories per hour, but with a lot less stress on your joints.

How much weight can a stand up paddle board hold?

That all depends on the board’s volume. Stand up paddle boards, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Some boards are wide and short, some are tall and narrow. Some sup boards are tiny and some are huge. Board designers have considered that paddling is a sport that appeals to all sizes of people. They also know that many people get into paddling to loose weight and increase their fitness level. And some paddlers like to paddle with their kids or dogs on board. There are production made boards that have enough volume to support 400 pounds plus. As the popularity of sup grows, so will the selection. And filling in the gaps are board builders who tailor design boards specifically for your needs and goals at not much more cost to you than most production models.

How much do stand up paddle boards cost?

Production and custom made sup boards have evolved tremendously in less than a decade. Competition has driven board designers to create more and more durable composites and streamline manufacturing methods that are driving prices down. Very high quality mixed use boards start out at around $1000 and can go as high as $3000. Race or downwind boards can top $5000, but many are in the $2000 range. Moderate quality flat water recreational boards start at $500 or so and go up.

How much do stand up paddle boards weigh?

That depends on the style and size of the board, but generally most boards weigh about 30 pounds. Some are as light as 15 pounds, others can be nearly 40 pounds. Lighter weight boards are usually more expensive, and may not always be more durable. Best to first identify the type of paddling you want to do, then compare apples to apples when choosing your new board. Weight is an important part of the equation. Lighter weight boards are much easier to carry, load and unload, but are often more fragile. Heavier boards can often take more knocks, but their weight sometimes contributes to mishandling and resultant dings.

What size stand up paddle board should I choose?

First, you and your board seller will help identify what kind of waters you will most often be paddling in. There are many considerations: your own size, your goals, and your plans for who will share your board will all be taken into consideration. Board size affects both glide and stability. The general rule of thumb is width equals stability, length promotes glide.

What is rocker and do I need it?

Rocker describes the slight curve upward from the bottom of your board. Nose rocker keeps the nose of your board higher than the surface of the water. This helps keep your board from pearling, which is a term originally used by surfers to describe what happens when a board in going under, nose first. Most boards that are designed for surfing have nose rocker. Tail rocker is also a feature of most boards. This slight lift in the tail helps the board to pivot when making a turn. General rule of thumb, less rocker equals more planing speed. More rocker equals a board that can turn on a dime. The Holy Grail of stand up paddle board design is finding that perfect balance between speed and maneuverability. Rocker profiles are guarded secrets between designers, and the stuff of much speculation.

My board has a little plug called a vent. What is that for?

Boards are made with cells that hold air in. The plug is a way for you to equalize the pressure in your board when traveling to different altitudes or when shipping your board by air. The vent plug in most newer boards are made with a Gortex screen. These newer plugs are not intended to be removed; they work automatically to adjust to differences in air pressure. If you are planning to drive or fly to high altitudes, be sure to consult your local shop or board manufacturer for specific instructions on using the vent plug. Removing the older plugs before travel protects your board from “the dreaded D word” aka delamination that might be caused by a change in air pressure. If the plug is removed, it MUST be replaced once your destination is reached, or you’ll find yourself with the board suffering from the other dreaded death sentence. Water trapped inside your board.

Why does my board have only one fin and my friend’s board has three?

Boards with one fin are usually larger boards that made for cruising and are not intended to surf. Boards with three or more fins are better suited for surfing, but can also be good for paddling in flatwater. Like boards, fins come in many shapes and sizes. Bigger fins help stabilize a wobbly board. Fins contribute to lateral resistance, which is a fancy way to say that fins keep the board moving forward on a straighter track. Impress your friend with this tidbit!

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Freelance writer, designer and water woman here. I write/blog about food, farming, aquaculture, design, sustainable building, architecture, surfing and stand up paddling. Love to bodysurf, bodyboard, stand up paddle surf, hula hoop and dance. I also love to cook. Why eat power bars, when you can have grilled sardines? My three beautiful babies are now fantastic adults. We also had a billy goat with us for almost two decades. (And lots of cats, dogs and chickens.) My former husband and I started the Hog Island Oyster Co. a growing concern, over three decades ago. Time marches on and life is good for all except for the goat, who died at age 18; pretty old for a goat. Thank you for reading.

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