SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down.

SUP paddle strokes and fundamental techniques that you should have in your arsenal.

SUP and paddle strokes are like cars and engines. Neither works without the other. Yet pair the two up and suddenly you have an efficient mode of transport.

It’s easy to think (and act blindly) that hopping aboard your stand up paddle board, and just paddling, is all that’s needed. Yet refinement of the forward stroke is often needed as well as adding other types of paddle strokes to your ‘tool box’.

Forward SUP paddle stroke refinement.

One of the biggest tips any progressing paddler can take away is ‘bury the paddle blade’. Often times riders just ‘tickle’ the water with no dynamism.

Submerging the whole blade will ensure that maximum power is delivered. Complete submersion also encourages the paddler to ‘reach’. And reaching combining with paddle blade’ submersion goes a long way to developing an efficient forward paddle stroke. 

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down.
Whatever type of SUP you practice a solid forward stroke is definitely needed – here shown in SUP foil mode.

There are a few other elements to also work on but if you only concentrate on the above two points you’ll be winning. And stand up paddle boarding better. Whether recreational SUPing or aiming to become more technically proficient you’ll be well on your way.

The SUP J-stroke.

Paddling in a straight line, whilst continually changing sides, isn’t as efficient as it could be. There are also situations that require the same side paddling for long periods of time – such as with crosswinds. Using the J-stroke will help keep your SUP straight and true whilst removing the need to constantly swap from one rail to the other. You lose less efficiency and can pilot narrower, more unstable boards. Especially if you stand with offset foot placement (think surf stance) which tends to favour either left or right side paddling.

Reaching forwards as normal, riders should bury the blade in standard fashion but slightly wide of the nose. Draw the stroke in towards your SUP and continue through the power phase as normal. The ‘drawing’ of the stroke gives forward propulsion as well as keeping your board tracking straight. Taking time to practice the J-stroke yields desired results.

A demonstration of the J-stroke for SUP.

The SUP sweep stroke.

A paddle stroke for all occasions the sweep can be used in so many SUP scenarios. Stand up paddle surfers put the sweep stroke to good use when paddling for and riding waves. 

Spotting their chosen swell (having positioned his/herself accurately in the line up) a sweep can be used in tandem with a tail sink pivot turn. Having spun on the spot the rider doesn’t lose ground nor stray either side of the wave’s peak. As such a few hammer down forward paddle strokes will see a smooth roll in and the wave caught.

The sweep stroke asks the paddler to perform a wide arcing motion with their paddle. Depending on the wants/needs of the rider the sweep stroke can pull out wide from the board’s nose to tail or be a shallower, snappy maneuver. 

The reverse sweep stroke. 

Where the standard sweep stroke means pulling wide, nose to tail. The reverse sweep starts on one side of your SUP, with the blade facing in towards the rail. And passes over the board’s nose to end on the opposite side. So the rider will stretch (and stand) quite a way forward. 

Some paddlers prefer the reverse sweep stroke to standard sweeps. As with all skills it has many uses and should therefore be practiced. Mixing and matching paddle strokes intuitively ensures your standing as a skilled stand up paddler.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down. #4
Reverse sweep strokes are great in scenarios like white water river running where you need a whole bag of techniques at your disposal.

Brace strokes.

Bracing is used mostly for balance and to stop the rider from falling. It’s often that a SUPer can overegg their balance and tip the board too far into its rail. Using a brace stroke will stop dunkings and bring the stand up paddle board and rider back upright.

A classic use of the brace stroke is during bottom turns on waves when SUP surfing. As the paddler carves off the bottom the paddle is extended to the inside, onto the wave’s face, and allows proficient surfers to carve harder and not fall into the wave.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down. #6
A high brace stroke used to support the rider whilst bottom turning along a wave.

You can employ a high brace – which in SUP surfing mode sees the paddle rest higher up the wave face. If it’s smaller swell then the paddle can brace on top. Or adopt a low brace where the paddler’s blade feathers the wave’s surface, tapping or pushing harder into the water as needed. 


Sculling paddle strokes are mostly a positioning tool. With the paddle pulled in close to the board’s rail, he/she moves the blade back and forth, just below the water’s surface, with a slight angle. This angle of attack gives paddle pressure as it engages with the water and serves to keep rider and board stationary. Or as stationary as possible.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down. #7
Sculling has a variety of uses that require sideways movement in confined spaces.

A typical sculling scenario could be when coming into land in deep water next to a jetty or pontoon. Having slowed to a crawl the rider can skull on the side closest to the landing platform. This slowly draws the paddler closer to the get out. And all without slamming into a hard surface and dinging the SUP. If you’re using a hard shell board then this is important. Inflatables can brush off knocks like this easier.

Back paddle strokes.

Used for stopping abruptly or reversing – especially in tight spaces where a pivot turn or sweep stroke won’t work, back strokes are simple but effective.

Unlike all the other SUP paddle strokes mentioned already a back stroke uses the reverse side of the paddle blade to push water as opposed to pull. Hand grip will be exactly the same with no need to change. SUPers then need to avoid angling the paddler’s blade otherwise it won’t work.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down. #8
Back strokes help when you need to stop and/or reverse.

Practice, practice, practice.

As with everything the more knowledge you have the more you can progress and develop your SUP skills. And have a bag of paddle strokes to call upon will see you enjoy your SUPing more and be able to cope with a broader set of paddling conditions.

If you want more effective and efficient stand up paddling then learning to put to good use all these paddle strokes is best practice.

SUP paddle strokes and techniques to nail down. #9
The more you practise the better you’ll get a SUP.

For truly rapid progression and understanding, getting some SUP coaching is worth its weight in gold. A qualified, experienced instructor will guide and help you develop paddle stroke skills much quicker than going it alone. So instruction is definitely worth considering.

Paddle Monster have some great resources and tips for SUP paddle strokes you can find here.

If you’re after more stand up paddle boarding articles like this then check out the following. And don’t forget to give us a shout if you have any questions.

SUP board choices for beginner/improver SUP paddlers.

SUP board choices for beginner/improver SUP paddlers.

What to consider when buying your first SUP.

There are so many stand up paddle boards available today that making a choice is a hard task. For many newbies, it can seem overwhelming. Do you go hard board or inflatable? And what about SUP length, volume and width? Style of board can also play a part. So where to begin?

SUP skill (and being honest with yourself).

When in the market you need to consider multiple aspects. First up is your personal skill level. Whilst it’s good to have aspirations and goals good practice is to be honest with yourself. You may yearn for that uber narrow race machine, or low volume performance surf sled. But these will be hard craft to pilot if you’re barely out of the beginner stages of stand up paddling.

SUP surfing: waves are where you find them.
Are you an aspiring wave head or flat water SUP paddler?

Something that’s accessible, but with traits to grow into, will be the best course of action. This will deliver maximum fun as you progress on your SUP journey. And it’s the fun element that’ll keep you coming back for more. Owning a board that’s too tricky to use won’t do much for your continued enjoyment of the sport. If you find yourself groaning at the prospect of paddling your own SUP then you might not have chosen the best fit.

Usual stand up paddle board stomping grounds.

Your local stomping ground should dictate what type of stand up paddle board should be purchased. By this, we mean what type of conditions you get and are most likely to be riding in.

For instance, if your local is generally mirror flat water, with some interesting nooks and crannies, then it’d be foolish to buy an all out surf SUP. Something touring orientated would make more sense.

Or if you want a dabble in waves on the same board a SUP like Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s Classic would be a good option. Perhaps the bigger 10’6 if it’s going to be a more flat water bias to your paddling (or you’re a heavier rider). But the 9’11 works as well.

The inflatable SUP option.

Your first stand up paddle board doesn’t have to be the hard variety. Inflatables are good to go as well. In fact, based on what the masses generally buy, iSUPs are it. Usually around the 10’6 mark. But you don’t need to follow trends. Following your own path is often the course of direction.

The issue with inflatables – as has been discussed at length across various forums – is the manufacturing and material quality with some of these boards. Cheap iSUPs are just that: cheap. Not budget. Budget, wallet friendly is something else entirely. You can get quality inflatable SUPs that are budget orientated.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co offer two styles of iSUP. Our 10’6 is designed to give enhanced glide and tracking (via its slightly elongated nose). Whereas the longer 11’5 compact touring SUP is fit for any adventure you can to throw it at. Both these designs are examples of time and effort spent getting the shape right and making them fit for purpose for many different styles of paddler.

Don’t forget your SUP paddle!

We talked about upgrading your SUP paddle in this article. To reiterate: your SUP paddle is everything. Arguably more important than your board, the paddle defines what stand up is and should therefore be given due thought and consideration.

Far too often we see riders happy to make do with any old paddle. This is never going to enhance the fun factor of stand up paddling. So the best advice is leave a few coffers in the kitty for an upgrade if your included package paddle isn’t up to the job. (Unlike Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s package paddle which has a good deal of thought and design behind it).

SUP board choices
Inflatable SUP boards are sometimes the best choice.

Stand up paddle board progression.

Whatever type of stand up paddle board you plump for it ideally should have some progression elements inbuilt. SUPs can be high price ticket items for many so having to upgrade mere weeks down the line isn’t that cost effective.

Fortunately most well respected brands, offering quality stand up paddle boarding gear, have plenty of applicable kit that can be used to advance your skills with. For instance: Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s 10’6 Classic is a great longboard style surf SUP. It’ll quite happily cover some ground (or water) on the flat. But, for those who fancy some wave carving fun or toes over the nose riding, it does the job perfectly.

The 9’11 Classic is just as progressive and versatile. Albeit with slightly more leaning to waves for bigger riders. Mid to featherweights will have plenty of flat water paddling fun aboard it though. And still be able to slide small to medium sized waves.

Whatever you stump up for should deliver on the smiles front. Do some research, ask questions of reputable sources and speak to the brand you’re looking at. Knowledgeable retailers should also be able to guide you accurately. The more happy paddlers we have the more longevity SUP has. So it’s in the best interests of all parties to get riders partnered up with their ideal stand up paddle boarding craft.

If you have any questions about Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s range of hard or inflatable SUP boards get in touch. And for more articles like this hit up the following links from our blog.

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.