Stand up paddle boarding is one fantastic way to relax, stay in shape, and enjoy the great outdoors. In fact, just a few years ago, some research shows that stand up paddle boarding was a top growing outdoor recreational activity for water sport beginners and judging from the evolution of stand up paddle boarding companies and construction on the market, it is continuing to rise.
There are a lot of reasons why people want to paddle board, whether they’re trying to get in shape, experience nature, spend time with their loved ones, meet new people, and explore new places. Getting into stand up paddle board racing can help you get fitter, improve your overall health, and meet new people. Paddleboard racing is quite challenging but it gives you a constant learning opportunity. Several people enter SUP races recreationally and in fact, athletes from other sports also like to paddle board because it keeps them focused and fit. That’s why in this article, we are going to give you a quick guide to the exciting world of stand up paddle board racing.
Gear You Need to Get Started
Like other sports, you also need to have proper gear and suits to play the game comfortably and with stand up paddle boarding you need to have the right gear. Here are the things you should have if you want to get into stand up paddle board racing.
Choosing the Right SUP Racing Board
There are three important things that you should be aware of when competing in a stand-up paddleboard race is the design and construction of your board, your paddle, and how those two complement your ability level. There inflatable and rigid paddle boards that are available in the market which can be used for surfing, yoga, touring and racing that’s why it is important to get the right paddleboard for you.
There are two distinctive types of hulls when it comes to paddle board design and these are the displacement hulls and planing hulls. A SUP with a displacement hull has a deep and pointy nose which cuts through the waves just like the nose of a ship while the paddle board with the planing hull is flat and has a rounded nose. They are wider, more stable, and they bounce over the waves. A planing hull paddle boards are usually used in the ocean for yoga because of their stability while paddle boards with displacements hulls are often used for SUP racing and touring because they smoothly glide through flat water.
Investing in a good stand up paddle board racing paddle can also make a difference in your performance and help you prevent injuries. Paddles that are made of lighter materials and has a smaller blade allows you to paddle faster because they are able to slide in and out of the water when you stroke.
When it comes to choosing the right paddle, it is important to consider water conditions. For example, fiberglass blades are more durable and it is great for rivers, but when it comes to other conditions, paddles with full carbon blades are ideal to use because they are lightweight and improved efficiency. Paddles can be customizable and you can adjust its lengths.
Take note that flimsy, entry-level, and poorly made paddles can lead to injury. Paddles that are made of heavy materials can make you tired easily as you push through the water which can result in sore shoulders and arms that can last for a couple of days. That’s why no matter how good your strokes are if you’re using a poorly made paddle, you can get long-lasting injuries.
Other Important Accessories for SUP Racing
Aside from having the right board and paddle, there are other accessories that you need to be aware of. Most of the SUP organizations requires a member to use a SUP leash and a Coast Guard approved life jacket. Aside from that, you can also opt for an inflatable belt, it’s like a fanny pack looking bag that has a ripcord attached and when you pull it, a cartridge will release CO2 which will cause the belt to inflate.
It is also important to stay hydrated during the race. Your hydration options includes a water bottle, a vest hydration pack, or a special straw made for paddle boarding which gives you the ability to filter the water that you’re paddling on. Also remember to bring sunblock, lip balm, and maybe some sunglasses.
Types of Races
Stand up paddleboard races are held in different environments such as oceans, lakes, marinas, bays, and rivers. They can also be open to other watercraft like surf skis, outriggers, prone paddleboards, and kayaks. The types of SUP races that are open to both beginner and expert levels are mostly held in inland lakes where the weather and water conditions are more predictable and won’t likely to change during the race.
Whatever type of SUP race you’re planning to enter, always make sure to call the organizers first and ask them any questions you have so you can determine if the event is appropriate for your ability level.
How to Train for a SUP Race
If you really want to enter yourself in a SUP race, getting a coach or someone to train you will really be a big help when it comes to making a game plan to reach your goals. Your coach can help you put together a personalized workout plan and guide you on how to work out, what you eat, and help cheer you on throughout the entire process.
Entering your first SUP race might be a little bit intimidating that’s why it is important to make sure that you’re prepared. Create a checklist of everything you need such as your paddle board, fins, snacks, water, paddle, mobile phone, dry bag, sunblock, and your registration fees. Also, make sure that you know the directions to the race and show up early so that you can meet your fellow competitors. Usually, the race organizers brief everyone about the course and important information before the competition starts.