SUP surfing Vs surfing.

SUP surfing Vs surfing.

SUP surfing and surfing commonalities and differences.

SUP surfing has many benefits. But so does surfing. And just as the two have their plus points there are also instances where they don’t work quite as well. Here we look at reasons why you’d choose one over the other.

Surfing backgrounds.

Often referred to as prone surfing, because of having to lie down and paddle, surfing is a long established wave riding activity. The origins of surfing reach far back in time. In Hawaii it was a social class pastime as much as fun hobby. Hawaiian royalty would get to ride the best waves on the best wooden boards. Underlings, meanwhile, would have to make do with less quality waves and ‘tools’ for the job. 

Being a performer in the ocean, across many disciplines, was given lots of kudos back then. And even nowadays if you excel at something like surfing then respect is certainly given.

SUP surfing Vs surfing.
The term waterman (and woman) is often used to describe someone who is versed in multiple watery discplines.

Why and when to prone surf.

By surfing we’re pretty much talking about the type that the every man/woman does. Pro level rip shred and tear rising is one thing. But that’s actually miles away from real world surfing.

First off the size of the wave is up to around head high. Usually performed at beach breaks he/she will paddle out on their mid to longboard length sled (7′ – 9′ ish). This size of board fits most people’s abilities and aspirations. Enough volume and float to be comfortable yet enough performance to aid progression. 

One benefit of a surfboard is piloting out through the foam is arguably easier than a big SUP. Being able to duck dive and pass underneath oncoming white water and waves makes getting back out more efficient. As long as the skill of duck diving is performed correctly.

Surfing is still considered to be the pinnacle wave discipline.

The wind element.

If there’s wind in the mix then being lower down to the water’s surface can be easier. Standing on a SUP when it’s breezy and choppy can often be hard work. Positioning, and maintaining it, in the line up is easier on a surfboard. Having legs dangling acts a little like an anchor so halts drift to a degree. But we’ll not deny that even surfing when it’s breezy can be tricky. 

Once on a wave, a surfboard is much more maneuverable and reactive. Even smaller dimension SUP surfboards aren’t as nimble as a prone surfboard. And surfboards can be faster as long as there’s enough power in the wave. Often though, this isn’t the case as the UK is notorious for its lackluster waves. (On most average days).

Surf Isle of Wight
Classic surfing shot from Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s backyard.

Surfboards are a lot lighter than stand up paddle boards. And can be easier to lug about, transport and store. Often brittle, and more prone to dings, meaning owners have to be careful. A SUP can be more robust and durable. Though not always!

Surprisingly (maybe) some surfboards can be as costly as a SUP. The brand, construction and type will dictate how much cash you have to part with.

SUP backgrounds.

As with surfing stand up paddling has roots in Hawaii. At least the modern incarnation of the sport. Paddling various craft is hailed as an ocean skill and huge importance is placed on this by Hawaiian and other Polynesian nations. Back in the 50s, the Waikiki Beach Boys could be found piloting oversized surfboards around with paddles. This was long before Laird and co reintroduced it to the masses.

Piloting craft with paddles in waves has long been an activity across the globe. Outrigger canoe is one such pastime that has much synergy with SUP. But there are plenty of other examples if you have a Google.

Why and when to SUP surf.

Pretty soon after Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and the other early adopters realised SUP on flat water was doable, the discipline was taken to waves. Being able to pick up swell earlier, drop in sooner and ride bigger waves easier (because of a stand up paddle boards increased length and additional paddle power) were big attractions.

In smaller surf – the surf real world riders tackle – a SUP is also a good choice. Often waves are small. Too small to eek much enjoyment out of riding a surfboard. With surf rolling in at barely knew high a SUP has the glide and momentum to make good use of it. This for many increased the number of hit days significantly. And it also opens up spots that surfers would give a second thought to.

SUP surfing vs surfing
Checking the conditions – better for SUP surfing or surfing?

Offshore wave locations.

For anyone with wave spots lying further offshore a stand up paddle is also a great choice. Having the ability and efficiency of being able to paddle offshore, to an outer lying break, also opens up more possibilities.

A massive plus point with SUP is the rider already being on their feet. This cuts out the popping up technique surfers need to learn. And then there’s the paddle…

We’ve talked about a stand up paddler’s paddle being their defining piece of equipment before. It gives extra speed, power, and balance and is a way to negotiate tricky sections and navigate longer wave rides. In essence surfing waves with a paddle in hand is a quicker discipline to unlock green wave riding fun than prone surfing.

Definition of fun.

For many surfers the struggle is real. Battling for years as a proner we know firsthand of riders switching to SUP surfing who’ve leapt on leaps and bounds in terms of their riding and fun. Suddenly nowhere near as much slogging and way more green waves ridden. 

SUP surfing vs surfing
SUP surfing can often be the more fun option for riding waves.

A lot of paddle boarders choosing to wave ride, who’ve previously prone surfed, can’t believe the accessibility of SUP surfing. This isn’t to say there aren’t days when your trusty surfboard doesn’t come into its own. There will be. Having a SUP in your ‘toy box’ is a way to maximize any surf sessions that come your way. In most cases, this accessibility means SUP becomes the go to method of shred. Therefore, this defines what fun is for real world wave riders. But the surfboard’s always there, ready and waiting for that optimum session.

Our advice is always to have options. Being able to pilot multiple craft increases time on the water. It also means you’re poised to maximize the potential of whatever Mother Nature throws your way.  And even though SUP surfing and prone surfing are their own disciplines they both have transferable skills that allow you to improve with both. Ride everything and ride it well…

Check out more Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s blog here –

Carbon SUP paddles – worth the upgrade?

Carbon SUP paddles – worth the upgrade?

SUP paddles and upgrading your alloy to a carbon version. 

SUP is defined by the engine you ‘drive’ with. It’s all too easy to focus on the board – as many do. But without a SUP paddle you’ll just be standing and floating. Your paddle is everything, make no mistake about it. Which begs the question: why not buy as much performance as you can afford?

Buying your first SUP (and paddle).

If you’re in the market to purchase your first stand up paddle you’ve probably done some homework. Researching and perusing board specs, brands and types to determine what you want. Perhaps you’ve also asked questions via the power of social media…

Carbon SUP paddles - worth the upgrade?
Your SUP paddle is the one defining piece of equipment you have.

For those looking at inflatables, the messages you get back might be hazy. What makes a good iSUP? That query alone can open a whole can of worms. Unfortunately, other than quoting marketing spiel, not many really appreciate what makes an efficient inflatable board shape. For instance, where the rail seams join and how many rail seams are employed can affect how an iSUP moves through the water. This is just one area that won’t be considered or covered by your research. But we digress.

Nowhere in the mix will be anything to do with SUP paddles. Down the line they may come into question. But only with a number of hours paddling under your belt. Yet from the get go paddles should be considered.

A good quality SUP paddle allows tip top performance.

SUP progression made more efficient.

We hear it all the time; ‘I’m just a beginner. I wouldn’t know the difference’. Which isn’t quite true. Give a new SUPer a lesser quality paddle AND something higher end and they’ll know there’s a difference. He/she mightn’t be able to articulate what but the appreciation will be there.

Understandably not everyone gets the chance described. And there’s unconscious action of it being out of sight, out of mind. Going with the included SUP package paddle is just a done thing. When actually approaching the whole buying process with a paddle upgrade option in mind is better.

Carbon SUP paddles - worth the upgrade?
The right SUP paddle makes all the difference – from beginner to expert.

Why upgrade your SUP paddle?

We’ve talked about SUP paddles being the defining piece of equipment you can own. Efficiency is another word used. But how does this present itself in a practical situation?

SUP paddle efficiency = less effort to move riders through the water. This in turn means fatigue doesn’t set in as quickly. Sessions are prolonged and the art of paddling a board whilst standing won’t feel as arduous. On top of which joints, muscles and limbs won’t feel quite as stressed.

Stand up paddle boarding is a physical activity requiring energetic input from the rider. One of SUP’s USPs is its health benefits. We’re sure you’ve heard all the jargon about ‘core strength’ and so on. This is true but it requires paddlers to actually put some effort in to reap those benefits. Using a lesser quality paddle can actually be detrimental to all of the above. And in time riders end up with worn and tired bodies. Even from just paddling recreationally. So an upgrade in paddle quality will help with all these things and ultimately make your stand up paddling more fun.

Why carbon?

Carbon doesn’t ‘give’ as much through the paddle stroke. The stiffer traits of a carbon SUP paddle mean the drive and thrust forwards is quicker with less energy wasted. In some cases, riders may prefer some flex in their SUP paddle shaft. But where you definitely don’t need this is around the blade area.

A less efficient alloy paddle will twist and bend across its blade. This is hydrodynamically impractical. Water flow becomes disrupted and power’s lost. The rider has to expel more energy just to draw the stroke throw to the recovery stage. In contrast, a well designed/manufactured carbon paddle won’t or shouldn’t do this. 

Note: Whilst we’re talking about carbon in this paragraph we should add that fibreglass can be a good choice as well. In some cases, glass paddles are more forgiving. And it should come as welcome news that Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s standard iSUP packages are supplied with fibreglass paddles as standard. No cheap alloy rubbish here!

The bottom line with SUP paddles.

Ultimately FUN is the name of the game with anything outdoor and recreational. SUP is no different. Even if only paddling mere yards from the beach, for a few days in summer, you still want to be having fun.

Carbon SUP paddles - worth the upgrade?
The better you SUP paddle the more fun you’ll have.

Umming and ahhing about upgrading your SUP paddle shouldn’t even be a consideration. If the option’s there then do it. Research anything to do with paddles and paddling and you’ll find the same advice (as long as the advice is from a reputable source of proven experience). 

Going back to what we said at the start of this article. SUP paddles are your defining and therefore most important piece of equipment. Using the best you can afford is therefore best practice.  

If you have any questions about paddles, paddling or Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s range of carbon SUP paddles then get in touch.

SUP safety considerations wherever you paddle.

SUP safety considerations wherever you paddle.

SUP safety is paramount, whatever stretch of water you use to indulge your passion for stand up paddle boarding.

From the first moment you step aboard a stand up paddle board there needs to be safety consideration in place. What looks like a completely safe and placid water activity can lull riders into a false sense of security. Every stretch of water carries its own set of risks. It mightn’t look unsafe, but looks can be deceiving.

SUP ability.

Over and above every other aspect, all stand up paddle boarders should be mindful of their own personal ability. Being honest and opting to sit out sessions is sometimes the best policy. If you’re not comfortable or confident then don’t put yourself in a situation you may regret.

And certainly don’t take or guide others in harm’s way. Often newbie SUPers will invite their mates along for the ride. Whilst in theory this isn’t a problem, with the wrong SUP conditions the whole affair can go awry quickly.

SUP safety considerations
Checking things out. Can you cope with the SUP conditions on offer?

Everyone needs to improve. And this does mean stepping it up in terms of what type of paddling you do. And where you do it. But incremental small steps rather than pushing the envelope off the bat!

SUP weather – know before you go!

Wherever you stand up paddle, the weather will influence your session. And in most cases, this influence will fluctuate as each session wears on. Ask any experienced watersports bod (not just SUPers) about weather and he/she will confirm the need for amateur meteorology. The following article from the Met Office gives a basic run through of how to read a weather forecast.

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/guides/what-does-this-forecast-mean

At a base level, simply knowing what inclement weather will be on your chosen day is important. From that, however, knowing how to interpret weather forecasts for your chosen venue is best practice. This may seem like homework is needed to ‘learn’ weather – which is true – but this will knowledge will keep you safe and allow even more enjoyment of SUP.

More on weather forecasting and interpreting the data can be found here.

Tides and SUP – know before you go!

If you’re paddling at coastal venues then you need to know tide times and understand the effects of tides. There’s a whole load of information readily available online about tides. And it’s not just as simple as water ebbing and flowing up and down the beach.

Tides explained in a simple fashion.

Tides can catch so many people out. How often have you seen footage of unfortunate souls who’ve parked their vehicles in the path of tides? At the start, a seemingly dry, safe spot quickly becomes a nightmare as the tide pushes in. The vehicle is engulfed by saltwater and the conversation with the insurance company will be tricky. From a SUP safety point of view, however, getting it wrong with tides can be lethal and result in emergency service help being needed.

Here’s an example of getting caught out by the tide.

Stand up paddle board clothing.

What you wear to SUP not only relates to comfort afloat it also can affect your safety. The most common issue is cooling down and having the onset of hypothermia bed in. Wearing too little clothing or the type that cools the wearer rapidly should he/she get wet is common.

In contrast overheating can also be a factor. So best practice dictates that for flat water paddling layering up is the route to take. Having a waterproof drybag onboard where you can stow dry clothes is then a good idea. Being able to remove or add layers as necessary should then allow you to regulate your temperature according to the weather and how damp you end up.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
Wetsuits and wetsuit boots for SUP surfing. But is this the correct clothing for your kind of stand up paddling?

For anyone paddling in immersive scenarios – such as SUP surfing – wetsuits are a must. But you need the right thickness of wetsuit based on the time of year and conditions. It’s no good thinking a 3mm summer wetsuit will work in January. It won’t! And a good quality wetsuit will keep you warmer than something cheap.

Stand up paddle boarding equipment.

It should go without saying that your SUP kit needs to be in tip top conditions. If it’s not then it’s time to sort it out. And do so BEFORE your next paddling session. Dings and/or punctures should be fixed. Any dodgy leashes swapped out for new. Paddles checked and replaced if cracking or breaking. The list goes on…

SUP surfing a hard board vs an inflatable - the main differences.
Make sure your SUP equipment’s in good working order BEFORE you head out!

Checks of your SUP gear should be carried regularly as this will impact your SUP fun negatively if things start to fail. But more than this your safety afloat will be impacted as well.

Communication afloat.

If you’re carrying a drybag, securely lashed to your SUP, then you could store away a mobile phone. Or better still have this is a waterproof pouch about your person. Having the ability to raise the alarm if assistance is needed can be the difference between avoiding hazardous situations and ending up in a far worse predicament. Waterproof VHFs can be another good option. But you need to know how to use one. There are plenty of courses available for those paddlers looking at VHF use.

RNLI tips for raising the alarm with a VHF radio.

In some instances, you may also want to carry things like flares. But, again, you’ll need to know how to use them. Flares can run out of date and be hazardous in their own right if not treated with respect. But should you get into trouble they’re a good method of communicating distress. Especially in low light.

SUP leashes.

There’s much written and said about SUP leashes. Or rather, using the wrong types. For instance: a straight surf leash being used on rivers with flow can be deadly. If they snag and catch around a fixed object, pulling rider one side and board the other this is where the situation becomes serious. Flow pulls a paddler and board downstream. The leash that’s wrapped around the fixed object becomes taught. And there’s nothing the rider can do to stop from going under.

This video demonstrates exactly what we’re talking about.

Best practice these days is any paddler navigating flat water, rivers or inland stretches should be wearing a quick release safety belt. The leash attaches to the belt and in the event of disaster, riders can unclip themselves. It’s worth familiarising how they work BEFORE going afloat though. To make sure you can release the belt and get out of trouble.

All new Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co inflatables will be supplied quick release safety belts from January 2022.

Additional floatation.

There are plenty of options when it comes to additional SUP floatation choices. Why would you go for this? Consider the scenario described in the SUP leashes section where the rider becomes separated from their board. Whilst leashed your SUP is the biggest form of floatation you have. But if you lose it, what then?

SUP specific buoyancy aids are an option but not everyone favours them. Whilst some models can impede paddling movements, a BA can serve to lock in additional warmth and keep you toasty on cold days. Other options are waist worn, Co2 inflated lifebelts. These fold away into a bumbag style carry pouch and can be forgotten about until needed. As with all equipment familiarisation of use is key. And you’ll need to replace the Co2 canister after use.

This video shows how a Restube device works. Apply thinking to SUP, obviously.

More knowledge.

One of the biggest elements with SUP safety is having knowledge. Experience is one thing but actually having information in your head will serve the experience side of things well. This is particularly obvious when it comes to interpreting weather forecasts and tide data. The not so obvious are things like being able to read what’s going down on the water. A smooth, calm sea may have hidden dangers you’re not aware of.

For instance: tide flowing in the same direction as wind can cause that aforementioned silky smooth appearance. The result to you the paddler means you go in the same direction as both. And much fast than you’d imagine. If this is offshore wind with outgoing tide you’ll be heading towards the horizon quicker than you can blink. And trying to paddle back against the elements will see you fatigue just as fast.

SUP safety
Tides and currents flowing around headlands and rocks need to be accounted for when paddling your SUP.

It’s the same with inland waterways as well. Understand that rain sluicing down a mile or so upstream of a moving river will eventually wash in your direction. That means the river’s flow could suddenly increase in speed significantly.

Staying safe on your SUP is important to all of us. Here at Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co we want all riders to have as much fun as possible without coming unstuck. If you have any questions about this topic or others then please get in touch.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on Freshwater Bay’s blog for more articles like this.

SUP longboard surfing with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic.

SUP longboard surfing with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic.

SUP surfing, longboard style: the core of Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic range.

SUP surfing can (mostly) be split into two distinct camps. Firstly, rip, shred and tear shortboard style riding, which aims to mimic the aggressive prone surfing type of wave riding. And, secondly, longboard sliding, which can just as equally be about turning and carving, but also walking the board, getting those tootsies over and smoothly flowing with the wave.

Big surf, big fun with the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic longboard surf SUP.

SUP surfing’s roots.

When stand up paddle boarding first came around (in present form) it was about piloting long boards in waves. SUPs were oversize. In fact, the earliest stand up boards – that Laird and Co starting messing about with – were tandem surfboard. SUP specific boards didn’t yet exist.

SUP longboard surfing with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic.
Scoping the waves; Freshwater Bay Paddle Co Classic close to hand.

So straight off the bat the longboard element was how the art of wave riding with a SUP began. Of course, as with everything, progressive riders started demanding more and more performance orientated equipment. SUP surfing boards gradually got smaller, narrower, shorter and lower volume.

Around 2011 or so we started seeing super slinky SUP surfing boards which were mainly the machines of pros. Or lighter weight paddlers. Real world surfers may have experimented but it quickly became obvious the lack of glide, tracking and ease of use detracted from the overall SUP surfing experience.

SUP longboard surfing with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic.
The classic, er, Classic in all its glory.

SUP surfing in 2021.

At the start of 2019 the industry started to consolidate. Some brands may still have pumped out those toothpick esque surf SUPs mentioned above. By and large, however, the shift was back towards longer platforms with a renewed emphasis placed on glide. Design lessons learned in previous years did pay dividends. The knowledge of what makes a good surf SUP was incorporated into these newer, longer board shapes. Rather than step back to what could be regarded as ‘clunkers’, longer stand up paddle boards were now highly tuned machines. Proper ripping of waves, whilst riding more user friendly gear, was now possible.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s range of Classic longboard SUPs takes these concepts and uses them to good effect. Both the 9’11 and 10’6 have superb glide, tracking and versatility. Whilst they were created with SUP surfing in mind the Classic’s also plenty versatile. Flat water paddling is totally doable aboard either shape. Whether you be heavier weight or lighter paddler. But both light up considerable when chucked at some swell.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic at Compton, Isle of Wight.

What’s really going on.

A pretty flat deck belies what’s going on underneath. The Classic’s hull is a fairly rockered affair with a thinned out rounded pin tail. Up front, right on the nose is a pronounced upturn that experienced riders will appreciate. As you whip off the top and come back down to the trough this rockered nose avoids pearling. Even though you think you’re going under. The fact you’ve been able to roundhouse a turn in the first place is testament to that tail and accurate fin cluster. And the flatter mid-section, combined with additional volume lends momentum to the Classic which allows sections to be made and early roll in to gutless waves easy.

We won’t lie. To get the maximum out of Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic SUPs you need to be proactive. Accurate trim is key. So walking forwards and back, whilst transferring weight from rail to rail is best practice. Less experienced paddlers can learn the ropes aboard either the 10’6 or 9’11. But moving your feet is extremely important to unlock the Classic’s full wave riding potential. Flow and trim are the go to words here which is what the Classic loves most. And this plays straight into what most surfers would call longboard style riding.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
Hammer (down) time with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic surf SUP.

Bigger waves – no probs!

One other prized element of the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic range of stand up paddle boards is their ability to tackle bigger surf. Utilising all the design elements mentioned above SUP surfers will love the Classic’s ability to get stuck into some proper juice.

Small wave performance abound with the Classic 10’6 Pawlonia version.

We know Classic riders who’ve had these boards out in well overhead conditions. And they cope well. The Classic is dependable and bombproof. Full power, sizzling rides can be achieved when the surf’s on the cook. All with the ‘get out of jail free’ traits of piloting a bigger board. The extra glide of a 9’+ SUP means zooming away from potential gnarly situations is far easier than with a sinker. And when you see your wave it can roll in early allowing the rider to set up efficiently. Or just go for broke and take the late drop.

Smaller surf action.

Of course, bigger lumps may not be your thing. In which case no worries. The Classic range of stand up paddle boards can do dribblers with the best of ‘em. That momentum carries through, meaning even ankle slapping surf can fulfil.

And don’t worry, we aren’t forgetting all you traditionalists. For those that love a spot of ‘walking the plank’ and hanging some tootsies over, the Classic fits the bill. Head for the front and you’ll be rewarded with a SUP that locks in and holds steady while you style it. Add the Californian retro aesthetics of the Classic and the vista could be straight out of the early days of surfing. Only this time you’ve a paddle in hand!

Moving forwards.

Stand up paddle boarding is still growing. It stands to reason that a percentage of those recently discovering SUP will want to progress. Stand up paddle surfing is one area of paddling boards that riders will gravitate towards. And with a Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic you’re poised to tap into the best of it.

We live and breathe all that’s best about longboard SUP surfing and see it as the main area of paddling in waves. SUP may change yet again but there’ll always be those that need the right tool for the job at hand. And for waves, there’s no better tool than the Classic.

Hot steppa – classic longboard style with the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic surf SUP.

If you haven’t checked out Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s range of hard shell Classic SUPs then hit up the links above. Also, don’t forget to scope other blog posts similar to this here.

Check out this review of the Classic 9’11 from a while back by SUP Mag UK.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.

SUP and scoring the best surf conditions for your paddling ability, wherever that may be.

SUP surfing conjures up all manner of big wave images in your head. Pro riders ripping, shredding and tearing. Throwing buckets of spray left, right and centre. Big moves. Big air. And big wipeouts when it all goes wrong. There’s no question; the upper echelons of stand up paddling in waves are a spectacle. And so it should be. After all, the pro game’s an advert for the sport in general. We need the aspirational/inspirational. Even if it’s not what really happens in the real world.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
Ripples for SUP surfing are all good.

SUP surfing conditions for the mere mortal.

Some riders, who are paid up superstars of SUP, can certainly hold their own in surf. A raft of paddlers exist who can put on a displays to turn heads. Yet the majority of SUPers these days are a world away from this. Everyone knows how stand up has grown these last few years. And out of those new recruits, there’ll be a handful who will step up and shine. The largest proportion, however, may not.

But this isn’t to say your average paddle boarder can’t mix it up in waves. Far from it. Conditions aren’t XL all the time. In fact, many popular SUP surfing spots are pretty mellow. And very doable for all. With this in mind waves are game on for any paddler who’s nailed the basics and fancies getting involved.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
If you’ve nailed stand up paddling’s basics you’re good to go!

SUP surfing’s beauty.

One of SUP’s beautiful aspects (especially where surf’s concerned) is you don’t need a big wave. We’ve mentioned this before. But with an oversized wave machine – like the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic – ankle slappers are good to go.

With a SUP board’s glide, and additional momentum, even ripples can be worth a slide. Add a paddle (and use it efficiently) and suddenly any type of moving lump can be ridden. This means you’re not just confined to ocean locations.

A SUP surfing vid from a few years ago showing how the Classic works on a wave.

Ripples and bumps can appear anywhere. On lakes. In rivers. Even in duck ponds. If there’s any kind of energy moving through water then a stand up paddle board could (in theory) ride it. And by ‘ride’ we mean slide. We’re not talking rail to rail ripping. Merely being pushed along and enjoying the sensation.

The beauty of glide.

Whether you realise it or not, one of the reasons you’ve been bug bitten by SUP is because of glide. Having learned the basics of standing and paddling it quickly becomes obvious that a few paddle strokes give a decent amount of forwards momentum. This feeling of moving forwards, whilst standing tall, is the hook in. Glide is addictive. And there’s no better way of enhancing this than when being shoved along via natural energy.

For plenty of riders, SUP surfing is simply about getting on a wave and enjoying being pushed along. Paddles are held high; grins are miles wide. There’s no engaging of rails or attempts to gouge turns. And that’s OK. This is SUP surfing for the majority. Of course, should any paddler fancy taking things to the next level then go for it!

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
Glide away SUP surfing style.

Sniffing for waves – wherever they may be.

Once a stand up paddle boarder has experienced the enhanced glide feeling of waves their view of SUP changes. From big wave chargers to tiny tiddler sliders it’s the same. Paddling on flat water and then suddenly a bump or two appears. Instantly thoughts of whether these can be ridden enter the mind. This is followed quickly by frantic paddle strokes to see if that thought rings true. 

Two of the most underrated areas of SUP are downwind paddling and white water river paddling. Downwinding sees paddlers use strong wind, which whips up rolling swell, to propel themselves along the coast. With the extra oomph from breeze and paddle it’s possible to drop into these moving lumps of water and ride them. Sort of like drift surfing if you will. White water runs meanwhile see paddlers aiming to use standing waves for fun. There are things like drops and rapids also but standing waves are one of the most fun parts of river paddling.

Sniffing for SUP waves, wherever they may be.

SUP surfing progression.

If you’ve been grabbed by SUP surfing, and want a performance boost, then a kit change may be on the cards. As we say above you may not want the rip, shred and tear low volume, narrow and tricky to ride kit. But you don’t need it…

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s range of Classic longboard style surf SUPs are more than applicable for your real world wave riding activities. SUP really lends itself to longer board riding and the Classic fits this style perfectly.

Anyone with skills will find a manoeuvrable SUP whilst those that want to just slide will also be well served. Plus, there’s additional flat water performance built in as well. What’s not to like?

Waves are where you find them. SUP gives everyone the ability to slide on lumps, however big or small. If you’ve never experienced the sensation then it’s something that’s very doable for intermediates and above. Keep safety in mind, work your way up slowly and we’re pretty sure you’ll be having maximum fun soon enough.

If you want to find waves, or conditions that generate moving bumps of water, it’s worth getting acquainted with websites like Magic Seaweed. Weather forecast sites will give you a heads up of when you’re most likely to score. Find your local spot via here.

For more articles like this check out the following.

SUP hard living? The hard board question.

SUP hard living? The hard board question.

SUPs with hard shells; are they hard to live with?

SUP boards that don’t pack down into a convenient bag make the whole stand up paddle boarding thing much less fun. Don’t they? SUPs that are hard make storage really tricky. Don’t they?

And so on…

Stand up paddle boarding’s recent surge in popularity has been unprecedented. Harking back to days of old when new outdoor fads were taken hold of by the masses. (Think windsurfing and skateboarding where every man and his dog suddenly owned kit). Unlike those heady days of the 80s we’ve also had a pandemic to contend with. And it’s this that’s kept the growth machine going over an 18 month (or so) period. Although actually, at time of writing (October 2021), SUP’s popularity hasn’t slowed.

SUP hard living The hard board question.
Which one’s best for you? Hard SUp or iSUP?

The inflatable stand up paddle board option.

There are lots of questions about SUP gear. With so many options on the market, it’s inevitable. One question about gear was met with surprise. This is because we suggested a hard SUP option might make more sense. The response from our subject didn’t think that was a thing. Instead, their perception was stand up paddle boards were only of the air filled variety.

Inflatable SUPs certainly have their place. There’s no question they’re easier to travel with. Particularly overseas. Another great advantage, not as widely spoken about, is their ding free properties. Unlike their hard shell siblings, air boards can be chucked about with reckless abandon. You may scuff the PVC a little. And perhaps with total uncaring puncture the board. But if you did the same with a hard board it’s end up in ding repair A&E.

We won’t get into direct comparisons between iSUPs and hard SUPs. This has been covered elsewhere. And actually, how can you really compare apples and pears?

The hard SUP choice.

Those who purchase a hard shell stand up paddle board – like the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic – are doing so because they want a performance boost. Perhaps they already own an iSUP and want equipment for more efficient progression. Or maybe the paddler in question’s looking at tackling a specific area of SUP. Possibly SUP surfing, where a hard board will always win over an iSUP.

The biggest thing with a hard shell stand up paddle boards is rigidity. It may sound obvious but being hard, and not full of air, gives greater stiffness. And this translates to reactivity, performance and efficiency. Over an iSUP you probably gain an extra 30-60% performance, depending on the design. We know many a stand up paddler that’s started on an inflatable, tried a hard version, and switched straight away.

A BIG difference with a hard shell stand up paddle board is that you have a rigid platform to stand on. There’s no flex in the centre, as you get with an iSUP. And without deflection, the efficiency at which a hard SUP travels across water is much more efficient and pleasant.

We’ve talked about wave environments before and how an air board bends on take off, sticks to the water’s surface and doesn’t fully release. But most importantly you can’t fully engage an iSUP’s rail edge for turning. Unlike its harder sibling which is extremely good at this. Of course, this again is SUP surfing specific, but you get the point. There are many more scenarios where a hard stand up paddle board just fits the bill so much better. But that’s your call to make as and when…

SUP hard living The hard board question.
When you’re ready, the Classic’s ready…

Owning a hard stand up paddle board.

When you choose to purchase a hard shell stand up paddle board you’re doing so with all of the peripheral ‘stuff’ that comes with it. Consciously or subconsciously you’ve already determined how (and where) you’re going to store it. Likewise with transport to and from your chosen SUP location(s). For anyone seeking pinnacle stand up paddling performance these so called issues aren’t even a factor. You want the best so you just deal with all the things you need to make it happen.

Getting your gear to the water’s edge for instance can be as simple as chucking the board on a roof rack and tying it down. It doesn’t matter what vehicle you own lashing a SUP to the roof is 100% doable. And to be honest, we see so much of this with iSUPs it’s really not a thing to be concerned about.

Hard SUP transport? Simply chuck it on the roof!

For those truly committed (and there are many) the mode of transport chosen is directly relatable to time on the water paddling. This is why the watersports fraternity at large own vans. It’s a full lifestyle choice. As we said above, it’s no issue ratcheting down a SUP to the roof of your suburban run around. But owning a van does make things easier we’ll acknowledge.

As far as storage goes where there’s a will there’s a way and all that. Even paddlers residing in smaller one bedroom city apartments we know of manage to stow away 10’6 hard SUPs. It may be a squeeze getting it through the front door, or perhaps you pass it through the window. Some may pay for a lockup to dump all their stand up paddling kit. As we said, where there’s a will there’s a way. Ultimately it comes down to how much the rider in question wants to get on the water and enjoy their sport to the max.

iSUP set up and pack down hassles.

Whilst there are a large number of inflatable stand up paddle board owner who leave their air boards pumped up there is a good % that don’t. The ones who do possibly leave them ready because, actually, the process of inflating and deflating is a hassle. Even with an electric pump there’s time stood around twiddling thumbs whilst your ride fills with air. and you still have to get the air out at the end of your session.

Laborious or hassle? Setting up your Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co inflatable SUP.

Hard stand up paddle boards don’t require this. Grab your board out of the van, or from the top of your car, suit up, paddle at the ready and away you go. Having finished it’s then a case of chucking your wet gear inside and hoofing the board back on the roof or inside. It really is much simpler (and quicker) in terms of getting set up and finishing off.

Dings and damage.

We touched on this earlier in the article but a hard shell stand up paddle board is more susceptible to damage compared to inflatable counterparts. At some point you will scratch, scuff and potentially hole your SUP. But it’s no biggy as repairs are fairly simple – either yourself or a professional doing the work.

Going back to the making it work point and an offshoot of owning a hard SUP board is learning how to maintain and repair your kit. It’s not uncommon to find a recreational hard SUP board paddler who’s pretty good with resin and fiberglass.

classic longboard style SUP at Compton Bay, Isle of Wight
Pushing it in the surf can sometimes mean dings and knocks are picked up. But it’s no biggy.

Taking things one step further and this has led onto some actually hand shaping their own boards. But for most, simply knowing how to repair a ding will suffice.

If you do pick up a ding this article from SUP Connect may help.

The (hard) bottom line.

Owning a hard shell stand up paddle board really is no issue. For all the supposed plus points of inflatables vs hard SUPs they’re actually a non-entity when all said and done. Air SUPs may suit the majority but there are plenty in contrast who want exactly what a board like the Freshwater bay Paddleboard Co Classic can deliver.

If you’re debating over whether to fork out for a hard shell SUP and upgrade from your inflatable, then give us a shout to discuss. Likewise, if this is your first purchase from Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co and you just need more of a steer on the performance traits of each model, give us a holla.

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