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Paddleboard safety

Stand up Paddleboarding (or SUP) is a fantastic sport which can be enjoyed by the whole family. It is the fastest growing sport in the world with good reason, as with every water sport some measures are needed to help you stay safe and here we hope to help you find best practice within the minefield of misinformation online. If you’re unclear on any of this or want additional help then get in touch, we can offer anything from an chat over the phone, sales of the equipment we would recommend or a course or private lesson to cover the use of this equipment and to go through rescues.


We’ll start with the basics, the below applies to all environments.

  1. Always carry some form of communication with you in a waterproof pouch such as a mobile phone inshore or a VHF off shore – ensure this is carried on your person, not in a bag on your board.
  2. Wherever possible always paddle with someone else and let someone else know where you plan to paddle and what time you plan to return.
  3. Always wear a buoyancy aid (Except in surf, more on that below).
  4. Always wear a leash, they type of leash and method of attachment will vary according to where you’re paddling though.
  5. Make sure your clothing is suitable for the time of year and will keep you warm when you’re wet.
  6. Check the weather forecast in your local area, pay special attention to the wind forecast and be sure that you can manage the speed and direction of the wind, avoid paddling in an offshore wind.

What equipment choices should you make?

 Coiled leash with ankle, calf or knee cuff – this is a perfect choice for paddling on flat, calm waters like sheltered waters, lakes and canals. This will prevent the leash dragging in the water and reduce the risk of it snagging and pulling you off the back of your board!

Coiled leash with a quick release belt – this should be used in water with flow, such as tidal areas, faster flowing rivers and white water, it’s critical that the quick release is on your belt so you can easily reach it without bending at your waist. There are various options on the belt with some releasing once a certain pressure has been applied and others only releasing manually.

Straight Leash – We would only ever recommend using these in surf. A coiled leash springs your board back towards you when you fall off, on flat water this is ideal, in the surf when you’re being tumbled around you want to be as far away from the sharp fins and hard points of your board as possible until you’re back in control!

Buoyancy Aid – You should always wear one of these when on the water. Our recommendation is to use a foam filled one for it’s inherent buoyancy rather than an inflatable variant, though while a good fitting buoyancy aid shouldn’t hinder movement a small number of people can find they make it harder to self rescue back on to your board, for those people the inflatable belt type would suit..