Even though 2021 was a rocky year in many ways, paddle boarding is still hard on the rise in 2022. With millions of new paddlers hitting the waters around the world, there's also a growing need to discuss paddleboard safety. Users who paddle for a longer time or have transitioned to SUP from surfing or kayaking are usually more aware of the perils that changing weather can bring or how to navigate different types of waterbeds. But for many, SUP safety is a relatively new area and here are some quick basics to make sure you'll be paddling safely.
3 essential tips before you even start
To start off, even before you take your paddle board out, always have a bottle of water at hand, wear sunscreen and make sure you understand your surroundings. Understand that winds can change and tides can pull heavier than you can paddle. If you’re new to an area, make sure you ask locals for paddling advice and safety tips.
Our overview includes four aspects of safety gear that will help you in different situations.
The SUP leash
Wearing a leash on your SUP is similar to getting into the car and fastening your seatbelt. The leash will help you reach your board quickly after the fall and stay afloat. Not having it might put a lot of distance between you and the board and make you lose energy swimming after it.
Coiled leash? Straight leash? Quick-release?
For most paddlers who'll be paddling on calmer waters, a coiled leash is a perfect fit. It'll stay put on the board, create no drag and still give you enough length not to get hit by the board on the recoil.
Having a straight leash will be a top choice while paddling on waves, when you get the extra push and don't mind the dragging leash in the water.
A quick release system is an added strap you pull (either knee or waist mounted) when you want the board to disconnect. This is a safety feature handy in white-water paddling where getting tangled in swirls or underwater debris could hold you under water.
Personal Floating Device (PFD)
Having a PFD is one of the most recommended advice you can get. There's a number of things that can happen while paddling in nature and having a PFD can mean a life-saving decision.
Most PFDs are self inflatable (using compressed gases) and will inflate by pulling a special lever. The inflated device will help you stay afloat, reach your board or swim to the shore if you get disconnected from it. With accidents becoming a commonplace in the SUP industry, there are more and more places where the use of PFDs is becoming mandatory.
Much like the leash, a PFD can be a vital addition when pushing out and reaching beyond the bend.
Electric motor assistance for bigger sup safety
Riding electric SUP boards or a SUP with a paddle assist system on your board can help you in a singular way. While a leash, PFD or double-chamber can help you remain afloat and close to your board, an electric motor on your SUP board can help you get back to safety, once the weather or tides change. There are different types of motorized electric SUP options that you can go for.
Even equipped and experienced paddlers can get pulled out on a current or a changing tide, which can end terribly if you don't reach shore or help quick enough. We're seeing news of rising numbers in paddler rescues all over the world and the reasons are always the same: changing conditions lead to scenarios paddlers didn't prepare for, so always keep in made – SUP safety first.
Having an on-board Paddle assist system like the SipaDrive can give you a boost whenever you feel overwhelmed by nature. Adding up to 7km/h will feel like riding your board in tandem and help you get back safe.
Double chamber board
One of the attempts our industry is pushing for is a double-chamber SUP board. In short, a double chamber iSUP is a board with two separated air compartments that get inflated individually. If one of the chambers releases air and deflates, the paddler still has a second one that will help them stay above water and reach the shore easier. Many premium brands are championing double chamber boards as one of the SUP safety tips.
While the double chamber technology is popular, it comes with a twist. Ever heard the phrase: “Double chamber, double danger”? Well, in most cases the board will default and lose air at a seam as a result of dissolving sealant or glue rather than rupture. So while a part of the industry is developing boards with more chambers, a growingly popular opinion is that additional seams and sealing can lead to more problems than less. Most cases where people are left with a deflated board happen because of air leakage.
The alternative to the double chamber technology is switching from glues to heat-bonding, which improves the board's integrity and reduces the possibility of air leakage.
Summary: SUP safety is a must!
Too much can never be too much when it comes to SUP safety. You should always consider your capabilities, your surroundings and your equipment before venturing out. Check your gear, fill your batteries, enjoy your paddle and get back safe!
For more tips, the editorial experts at SUP Connect have covered each aspect into further detail. Check out this extensive article from here.
Did you know that with our motorized electric paddle boards the safety leash is just a part of a user friendly carry system that will help you get in and out of water with ease? 😊