Stand up paddle boarding is a fast-growing, popular sport. Paddle boards (a.k.a. SUPs) look similar to surf boards, but are more versatile. Used in the ocean, on lakes and in rivers, it’s no surprise paddle boarding is a sport that is taking Colorado by storm. The fact that the sport is relatively new leaves a lot of question in how to enjoy it, so here are 5 ways to have a successful stand up paddle boarding trip.
1. Educate Yourself
If you are able to take a class, it’s a great way to get experience before taking a trip down the river on a paddle board. If you happen to be in Summit County, a popular vacation destination including the towns of Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco and Dillon, there are several great areas to take a lesson in stand up paddle boarding. The Breckenridge Recreation Center offers SUP Yoga classes in their facility and Meta Yoga offers classes on the Maggie Pond, both are affordable options if you happen to be in the Breckenridge area.
2. Know Your SUP Gear
Regardless of whether you take a class or not, it is very important to know your gear and understand how to use it. An important piece of gear that everyone should use when stand up paddle boarding is a leash. The leash will keep your board from drifting away from you on the lake or down the river. New paddle boarders should be aware that the longer and thicker boards are better for beginners because they are easier to balance. When placing the board in the water is important to note the front and back of the board, the fins should be on the back side of the board. The paddle faces the opposite angle than rafting paddles with the angle facing away from the paddler.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
In order to be successful on your trip it’s important to know practice makes perfect. In order to hone in your skills, avoid windy days and go out on calm water. Remember to engage your core while paddling in order to achieve more powerful strokes. Keep your eyes forward as opposed to looking down on the water to help with balance. Stroke the paddle 4-5 times on each side in order to move yourself forward.
4. Learn How to Fall
On a stand up paddle board, you will fall regardless of what body of water you’re on it is vital to learn how to fall. The boards are heavy and do not feel good when falling into you. It’s important to learn how to fall away from the board when coming down.
5. Dress Properly
After you feel comfortable and balanced on your stand up paddle board, it’s time to test your skills and head to the river to paddle down the current. The Upper Colorado is a great river to paddle board as the smaller rapids are not unmanageable to keep balance on. The water will be cold though, so in order to have a successful day on the river, proper clothing in vital for when the inevitable swim in the river happens. Water shoes, a PFD, a helmet and a wet suit are all things to remember.