Learning to SUP during Autumn and Winter
Learning to stand up paddle board when the sun’s rays are strong, and with water temperatures on the rise, make for a much more enticing picture when considering a new watersport. By its very nature – i.e. you’re likely to get wet – learning the basics of SUP will most likely result in riders taking a dunking (at least once or twice). We appreciate this can be off putting when autumn and winter swing in, but it doesn’t need to be.
There are ways to combat the effects of Mother Nature during the off season. By picking your day, area and attire there’s no reason not to keep on paddling – as a beginner or intermediate – through colder months. In fact, if you’ve seen SUP and fancy a bash for the first time, then don’t think you have to wait until spring to give it a go.
Forget trying to learn how to paddle when it’s blowing a gale, the temperature is sub-zero, or it’s chucking it down with rain. As much as enthusiasm is great, these types of weather won’t add anything to your overall enjoyment levels.
Fortunately the UK has a relatively mild climate and even during autumn and winter warmer, calmer days can be found. Learn to interpret forecasts and make choices accordingly. Also don’t be afraid to cancel your SUP session if it’s not looking good – there’s no point going out if you’re not going to enjoy it, so just wait for a better weather window to enjoy your paddle board experience.
If you’re a complete beginner then heading for exposed, deep tidal waters on your own isn’t advisable. We’re fortunate to have an abundance of shallow, sheltered locations that are much more applicable to learning the fundamentals of SUP – even during the off season.
Also worth considering that some locations, if chosen correctly, can help with point one. Some launch areas, for instance, can offer respite from adverse weather and provide a way to get afloat regardless – try and find those sheltered spots. It’s also worth finding a paddle buddy for those first paddles, in case you run into any problems.
Modern wetsuits are phenomenal these days. With a quality neoprene suit, and associated accessories – gloves, hood and booties – you’ll have all the protection you need for winter SUPing. We’ll admit that shelling out initially may seem daunting – especially if you’re not 100% about committing to SUP. But if you’re buying a board and want to use it through Winter, then at some point you’ll need to purchase a suit. If you’re not sure to start with, then it’s worth hiring or hitting up your local SUP school.
For colder stand up paddling you’d also be wise to have a set of warm clothes to hand for post-SUP. You may think your body temperature hasn’t dropped during the on water part of your day but you’d be surprised – especially in a cold wind. Once adrenaline wears off you may quickly become a shivering soggy mess without warm gear.
Consider the safety aspect of your paddling – especially important if you’re not as experienced as you’d like to be. As already mentioned you’d be wise to SUP with others during initial forays into SUP.
Most importantly, wear a leash! We can’t reiterate this enough. Without scaremongering there have been a raft of incidents of paddlers losing their board – your main means of floatation! Having a good quality leash is a way to prohibit this. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, at some point we all fall off. And when we do, it’s paramount to be able to get back to your board quickly. Leashes can save lives!
Get a lesson
Having the enthusiasm for learning to SUP in autumn/winter/spring is something we salute – there’s absolutely no reason not to, with a bit of prior planning and prep. That said, the learning process will be accelerated greatly if you choose to have a few lessons with an experienced, qualified instructor.
Many forget that SUP is a technique led sport. Lessons will show you the correct stance, paddle technique and some basic self-rescue. With someone showing you the quickest route possible to success your confidence and overall happiness factor will greatly increase. Plus, they’ll have all the above safety points covered so you don’t have to think about them – you can just head out and have fun.
So if you want to learn to SUP, don’t let the colder weather put you off. By picking the right spot and appropriate conditions you can even find it a more tranquil experience, without the hoardes that descend on the beaches and waterways during the warmer months. There’s nothing more exhilarating than being in the Great Outdoors when others are warming by the fire, the satisfying sense of achievement in donning your wetsuit and heading out there! What are you waiting for…?