Here's some general information on the sport, which we hope you'll find of interest and use.
If you're new to the sport, you may well be wondering what it's all about, and why on earth it has become so popular! Read our 'why paddleboarding' section to find out, and hopefully it'll encourage you to have a go.
The health and fitness benefits of paddleboarding are certainly one of the main reasons the sport has become so popular. Read more about them here...
If you're looking to buy your first board then the choice of options available can seem more than a little bewildering, and unfortunately, the truth is that it really is all too easy to end up with something completely wrong for your requirements. Read our intro to buying your first board for some pointers and impartial advice...
And finally, if you've got a boat (launch or yacht), then you really should be in the market for a paddleboard, if you don't have one already! Read all about it here...
Ten years ago it wasn’t even on the map, but now there are millions of
stand-up paddlers worldwide, hundreds of different brands, international
competition circuits, and Olympic recognition is already on the horizon.
And the sport’s growth is still accelerating, as the sport finds ever more niches and areas to colonise. This sheer versatility is the fundamental reason why the sport is not just some passing fad. SUP is here to stay!
Some paddleboarders race, others surf, some go exploring, some fish from their board, some use it for fitness, while for others it’s simply a convenient second tender for the boat. Some like to paddle long distance, or ride rivers and white water, some like to do tricks. Some go paddling to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, while for others it's very much a social thing; a way of meeting up and doing stuff with other like-minded people. And for many, it's simply a brilliant bach and beach toy for the family in the summer...
Paddle-boarding can be all those things - yet it offers an extra dimension too. The physical health benefits are now well documented - more about those on the next page. But it’s also good for your head. There's something hypnotically pleasant about paddleboarding. You're higher off the water because you're standing up, so you have a much better view all round. Especially downwards, it’s great for seeing fish and the sea floor if you're in clear shallow water, or just gazing at the patterns and sparkles of the ripples on the surface. Just enjoying the sensation of gliding over the water, and the hypnotic, mesmeric rhythm of the water passing under the nose of the board.
Whatever avenues you choose to explore with the sport, the
satisfaction factor never goes away. Better still, it's easy.
If you can stand up, then you can stand up paddleboard.
It's more like learning to ride a bike than learning to surf –
once you've stood up for the first time, you've got it.
Be you young, old, tall, short, 20kg or 120kg, in perfect
shape or in need of a low-impact yet stimulating form of
exercise to get you back into good health, it's just a case
of finding the right paddleboard for your requirements.
Northland Paddleboarding can equip you with everything you
need to get into this great sport.
New Zealand is blessed with more miles of coastline than
mainland USA, and some incredible inland waters to explore too. Paddleboards are the perfect craft for
making the most of it all. Get out there and give it a go – you won't regret it. Indeed, it may even change your life!
Paddleboarding & Health
The extraordinary health and fitness benefits of SUP have been a
primary driver of the sport's incredible growth. It has become an essential
cross-training tool alongside running, swimming and cycling for athletes
from a wide variety of disciplines, thanks to its core strengthening and balance training benefits.
There are also an increasing
number of referrals from
chiropractors etc, who are
delighted to be able to recommend a low-impact activity that really targets that all-important core area, as so
many back problems are a direct result of (or exarcerbated by) weak core strength.
However, what has also been
catching the attention of the
weight-conscious public are the
extremely high calorie burn rates. At its most extreme, ie when paddling
flat out, you can be burning up to 1000 calories/hr, (compare to running,
where you'll be lucky to get
600 calories/hr). Even
sedentary paddling still
burns calories at the same
rate as a good hike.
So here's an easy outdoor
sport that can be done
socially, or competitively for
those who like the extra adrenalin rush, feels good, and burns a bunch of calories too! What's not to like?
But there’s also the sheer feelgood factor. Even if it's just a gentle cruise around the lake or harbour, you feel good after a paddleboard session in a way that very few other sports can offer, despite what seems like relatively low levels of actual effort and adrenalin rush. Because your core muscles are having to work ontinuously while you're paddle-boarding (and balance is actually a very complicated neuro-muscular function so there are a lot of synapses firing), this triggers extra endorphins; those feel-good chemicals for the brain.
Buying Your First Board
SUP Boards come in a very wide range of constructions, shapes, sizes, styles and purposes. Check out the 2015 range from Red Paddle Co shown below; including all-round boards for various weights of rider, plus specialist designs for racing (in various classes), cruising, surfing, kids, fishing, rivers, and more. Fortunately, if you're starting out, the more specialist designs can be ignored - what you need is an all-rounder. The all-round board is stable, comfortable and easy to cruise on and sufficiently versatile in shape to be fun in small surf or on rivers, or maybe even in a race if these are avenues you wish to explore. These are the important numbers to consider when purchasing an all-round board:
Paddleboards can be anywhere between 6' and 18', but anything much shorter than 9'8 is primarily orientated
towards manouevring, and thus less ideal for straight-line cruising (longer
boards have better 'glide'), while boards longer than 12’ are very
directional, and about distance and racing. All-round boards are thus generally between about 9'8 and 12'.
How to Choose: Go towards the shorter end of this range if you're wanting a more surf-orientated all rounder with a view to getting into surfing, or you're under 70kg and/or under about 170cm.
This is the most important indicator of stability. The narrower the board, the more wobbly it is (even for experts), the wider it is, the more stable it is. It is vital to have enough width to support your weight - but too much width simply becomes drag. Don't buy a board wider than you need - it will quickly begin to feel like an aircraft carrier; ponderous and dull. (This is why it makes such good sense to have some lessons at a proper paddleboarding school before you buy a board, so that you can be through that initial stage of the learning curve when you need extra stability, before you buy.)
How to choose: Most all-round boards are between 30-34" in width. 30-32" is fine for riders up to about 90kg. Over 90kg, look for something at least 32", and riders over 110kg should choose either a very high volume 32” board, or something of 34”+ in width. Youngsters (and adults under 60kg) will be OK with a 30" board, but will get more out of a board with less width if they can find something appropriate, such as the 27" Red Paddle Co Snapper. (Don't choose a heavily wave-orientated board; while it may be suitably narrow it will also be heavily rockered and rounded in plan shape, designed for turning rather than straight line paddling).
This is actually one of the least important measurements, unless you happen to be at one of the extremes of the weight spectrum. Pretty much every all-round board has more than enough volume to support the weight of even the heaviest rider. In ballpark terms, it takes a litre of board volume to support the weight of a kilo of rider, and then add another 10L or so for the board weight, wetsuit, etc. So 110L of board volume will float a 100kg rider. But recreational boards are normally in excess of at least 160L, so they have way more volume than is actually needed to float the rider.
How to choose: Unlike the length, width or thickness measurements, it's almost impossible to glean any useful information from the volume measurement alone. If you're worried about the volume in a board, feel free to consult us, we'll be more than happy to advise.
This is one fundamental area of difference between solid boards and inflatable boards. Solid boards have varying thickness from nose to tail, and side to side, whereas inflatables are the same thickness throughout, normally either 100mm, 120mm or 150mm thick.
How to choose: In general, boards should be no thicker than they absolutely need to be. Too thick a board puts it high above the water, making it feel more corky and creating more windage. Because making an inflatable board thicker gives it more rigidity, a lot of manufacturers use this as a 'cheat' to make the board feel more stiff, but it does have a very detrimental effect on performance and handling. And when it comes to surfing, the last thing you want is high sides; the thinner the better!
Riders under 80kg looking for an all-round board shouldn't need more than 100mm thickness, while 80-110kg riders should be fine with 120mm thickness.
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Hopefully you now feel a bit better equipped to consider that first purchase! Unfortunately there is no exact formula for getting the right board, and sadly there is also a lot of rubbish on the market - it is all too easy to end up with something entirely unsuitable for your requirements. At Northland Paddleboarding we take great pride in knowing the market inside out, and being able to match our clients up with the very best equipment for their requirements. We have accounts with all the major brands, and can offer impartial and expert advice. We can also arrange demo sessions so you can try before you buy. Please feel free to contact us and discuss your requirements (ideally, what we'd like best of all is to do it while on the water, as then we can really see exactly what you need).
Paddleboards and Boats
Stand up paddleboards make a perfect second (or even first!) tender for a boat. Rather than having to drag heavy kayaks on board, paddleboards take up much less space, are much lighter, and generally much more fun. Get to your anchorage, chuck the hook down, chuck the paddleboard(s) over the side, and off you go!
- The perfect craft for trips ashore, around the anchorage or marina
- The big flat deck platform of a paddleboard is ideal for ferrying supplies, jerrycans etc to/from shore.
- Ideal for exploring and exercise while you’re staying on your boat.
- Great as a working platform for painting/hull maintenance
This is one area where inflatable paddleboards absolutely dominate - it'd be daft to choose anything else.
- Light and easy to get back on board
- Won’t damage the paintwork or varnish
- Easy to store when on passage - just deflate it and stick it in a locker
- No rub or bang-bang-bang when tied up alongside.
If you're buying a paddleboard for your boat, here are a few pointers:
- Make sure it has a good towing/fixing point on the bow and stern, for tying up to your boat, towing astern, and/or for lashing the board to stanchions/cleats when you’re transporting it on deck.
- Make sure it’s UV-proof and can cope with being left out in the sun
- Choose one with plenty of cargo fixing points, for runs ashore etc
- Boards with permanently-fixed fins rather than removable fins are better suited to boat work. They can be run up on the beach with no damage, there are less bits to lose, and it's one less hard bit to catch your ankles on or damage the paintwork when the board is on deck.
The Northland Paddleboarding crew have huge experience of using paddleboards on boats, and will be happy to advise on all aspects of choosing the right paddleboard etc. We recommend and use the Red Paddle Co inflatable paddleboard range for this purpose, they are already the board of choice for thousands of NZ boat owners, and well proven. They fulfil all the requirements listed above, and due to their patented manufacturing technology offer significantly more performance than any other inflatable brand, so there is absolutely no compromise over buying a 'solid' board. The Red Paddle Co range meet all these requirements
For anyone planning their travels, this is a very useful guide to SUP shops, schools, rentals guided tours etc, in United States, Canada, Australia - and New Zealand. They've done a pretty good job in tracking down most of our shops and schools, and will be adding more soon. It's a free download, so well worth checking out, especially if you're heading overseas.