SUP foiling vs SUP surfing.

SUP foiling vs SUP surfing.

SUP foiling gets pitted against SUP surfing in this Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co guest article.

SUP foiling – in fact, foiling of all types – sparks lots of interest currently. If you partake in watersports of any kind you can’t fail to have been reeled in by the almost voodoo exploits of flying above water. Whilst wing foiling is enjoying the lion’s share of attention SUP foiling also gets a look in. But how does flying on a wave compare finning on a wave?

With Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co. not being a foiling brand we hit up one of our friends from Foilshop UK. Tez Plavenieks (also editor of SUP Mag UK and Windsurfing UK) has been playing with hydrofoils for a while. Having a vested interest in foiling, and being in a position to test oodles of foil gear, we thought he could shed some light on the art of flying. Oh, and he just so happens to have also tested over 2000 stand up paddle board products! Over to Tez…

Dropping into a nice SUP foiling section.

SUP foils.

I’ve been foiling for a while having first tried my hand at windsurf foiling. Pretty soon after – as in a few days – I hopped aboard a SUP foil set up and took my first flights in waves. Even though hydrofoils were accessible they were still a world away four years back to the kit you get now. There wasn’t as much available for a start! But the kit today is much easier to use and more forgiving.

Foils themselves come in (generally) two types. Low aspect shovel style foils and thinner, narrower (chord – nose to tail) and wider span foils referred to as high aspects. In short, high aspect foils require more rider input (and/or better conditions) but are more efficient when foiling. They’re faster than low aspect foil wings and can glide much further. Both types, depending on brand and model, can have low take off speed (sometimes referred to as stall speed). It’s this element that can make or break a beginner’s foiling at the start.

Thinner, narrower high aspect front and tail wings.

Having not fully developed foiling skills, riders need a little help. With a low take off speed it doesn’t take much oomph to lift. And to learn foiling you actually need to be flying. It’s mostly best practice when starting your SUP foil journey to go bigger with the foil. But when researching, note any blurb about low take off speeds. That way you’ll have any easier time of it. Remember: the foil is the most important piece of equipment next to your SUP paddle.

SUP foil boards.

SUP foil boards are generally multi-discipline these days. If foil specific then chances are you can SUP foil, wing foil and possibly windsurf foil on the same one. Some foil boards also offer fin performance as well. But in my experience, there’s too much compromise between flying and stuck to water riding. If you want to foil go foil specific.

A SUP foil specific board ready and waiting…

A compact design, with much less width than your standard SUP board, pretty much typifies a foil board. That said, depending on what you go for, you can find plenty of stability – even with SUP foil boards around 100L. Once you get used to the shorter nature of your chosen foil board (and the side to side yaw of it) you’ll find no issue with balance. Paddling any distance will be hard work, but you shouldn’t have to as smaller waves, often breaking closer to shore, are greenlit for foiling!

SUP foil paddle.

As with stand up paddle surfing (and SUP in general) your paddle is everything. Yes, you need a foil to fly but without a paddle you’re just standing. So keep this in mind. In a lot of cases, your regular SUP paddle will work fine for foiling. If it’s a fixed shaft type then you might not have quite enough length to paddle whilst on foil. In which case, something a few inches longer will help. Or, alternatively, a good quality adjustable SUP paddle will solve the problem.

Due to SUP foil boards being so short you need a lot of oomph to get into a wave. Something with power is therefore key. A stiffer shaft will help as that direct drive makes for efficient paddling off the bat. I don’t normally like uber stiff SUP paddles for general paddling as these ruin my shoulders. But for SUP foiling, where I’m not paddling as far, it’s key. Your paddle should also be bulletproof. There’s a chance you may clip your foil under the water – particularly if the front foil wing’s wider than your board. If your paddle isn’t up to the job then you may break it. And that goes for your foil if you clunk it with the paddle.

Waves, waves, waves.

One of the big draws to SUP surfing is you don’t need quality waves to ride. It’s been widely reported, but surf conditions not great for prone riding are usually good feeding ground for SUP surfing. Due to the oversized nature of the board, you enjoy added glide, momentum and the ability to outgun crumbly sections and so on. Using your paddle efficiently is also a big benefit. This gives additional power and leverage for turning.

SUP surfing the inside section
Shallower inside sections still call for a board with fins.

With SUP foiling the main differences are speed (once up on foil) and glide. The same soft breaking waves you may be riding on a finned board are ripe for foiling. Once up and flying the frictionless nature of the foil over eggs everything you get riding stuck to water. The foil is reactive – extremely so! You’re lightning fast compared to a board on the water. And the glide is phenomenal. As such, whilst SUP surfing delivers longer rides in smaller waves, SUP foiling does this plus 10! Foiling also gives the option, once you dial in the technique, of pumping back out to the next wave, turning and doing it all again. All without actually touching the water. In theory, you can do this for as long as your legs hold out. But it is tiring. Many SUP foilers tend to opt for length of ride off one wave and then take a breather.

SUP foiling vs SUP surfing.

To be honest, you can’t really compare SUP foiling to SUP surfing as they’re different beasts. I still ride a finned board when conditions require. If the waves are solid and bigger then I jump on my SUP surfing board. For slacker swells, I’ll foil. My motto is ‘tools for the job’ and I don’t close my mind to the options available. Some riders get fixated on one thing and let it become all consuming. I prefer variety and utilising the options I have to deliver the most amount of fun.

Riding on a finned board is still as fulfilling as it ever was.

For instance, there are some days at my local that it’s just too shallow where the waves are breaking for a foil. Even with a shorter foil mast. Other times it’s chunky but breezy. So in this instance, I’ll favour a foil and ride the smaller inside waves where there’s more shelter.

Mood also plays its part. There’s nothing quite like a gouging turn, feeling the board’s rail bite before slinging the nose into a pitching lip. You can’t quite achieve the same on a SUP foil board. I used the word ‘feel’ just now and the different feels of being on fin or foil are what I’m all about. I know others who’re the same. But as with ‘tools for the job’ I like to change my mood and therefore feel. Sometimes I’ll ride a SUP surfing board and SUP foil board in the same session.

The expense question.

I appreciate to throw a large dollop of cash at something you don’t have any experience of is a big ask. It’s also tricky choosing foiling gear that’ll suit you and the conditions you generally ride in. It’s tricky enough with stand up paddle boards and paddles let alone the hydrodynamic beast of a foil. And there’re no two ways about it: foils and associated gear are relatively pricey. Yet anyone who makes the leap, puts those initial learning hours in, and perseveres will discover another immensely fun activity. And fun can’t be quantified in terms of monetary expense.

SUP foiling gear can be expensive but the fun factor’s high.

Once you’ve made your SUP foiling purchase there’s no reason to quickly swap it. There’s a lot of hype in the foiling industry. And most brands launch new products seemingly every week. There’s nothing to suggest this kit will deliver any more fun than you’re already enjoying.

Of course, at some point real breakthroughs do occur as far as foiling accessibility goes. But this is over a period of time. Whatever you choose now, SUP foiling gear wise, will last you at least a few seasons. I still have foils from three ago that work fine.

Surfing and ‘surfing’.

For me, the ability to ride all conditions I find on the day is gold. This includes breezy weather. It’s no secret I’m also a keen windsurfer, windsurf foiler and winger. I also use electric hydrofoil boards for no wave/no breeze sessions. And, of course, still paddle flat water aboard SUPs as much as any other recreational paddler.

Pumping between swells – but it’s all just surfing…

With waves, I see everything I do as just surfing. A hybrid extension of the sport, maybe, but it’s the same stoke I get after a fulfilling session. If you already stand up paddle surf and are thinking about SUP foiling, then get involved. You’ll already have the base skills from finned riding to take flight. It’s just a case of putting the time and effort in.

Likewise, if foiling’s not your bag then so be it. Nobody’s forcing you to take part. But don’t be scared about trying. A good many think foiling’s dangerous. And whilst you do have to be mindful of the foil it’s not as scary as you’d expect. There are safety precautions you can take during the learning process that’ll induce confidence. And to be honest you can belt yourself with a finned stand up paddle board which can also do injury! Bottom line is though: whatever floats your boat and gets you wet’s all good.

For more articles like this check out Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s other blog posts below.

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.

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.

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