SUP places to paddle – overseas edition.

SUP places to paddle – overseas edition.

‘SUP places to paddle’ now turns its attention to some choice overseas destinations. Whilst this isn’t a exhaustive list these are suggestions based on experience that may prick your interest. You may have your wanderlust sparked to investigate other further flung locations as well.

Maui, Hawaii.

No SUP places to paddle list could be published and not feature the epicentre, and birthplace, of stand up paddle boarding as we know it, Maui.

Maui’s south side has plenty of SUP options for all skill levels.

Laird and co brought about SUP’s renaissance during the early 2000s. And with such a wealth of put ins to choose from, Maui has established itself as a SUP centre of excellence. Waves of all types, world class downwind runs and a handful of adventure SUP spots; it’s a bucket list venue worthy of any paddler’s time. From beginner through to advanced.

Grenada (The Spice Isle), Caribbean.

With its bath warm waters, friendly locals, fragrant spice smells wafting on the air and amazing SUP potential, Grenada is definitely worth visiting. A very under the radar location, when compared to neighbouring West Indian islands, Grenada offers mellow SUP surfing, cracking adventuring and a few downwind runs. And that’s just what we know about.

Grenada is a stunning place for some stand up up paddle boarding action.

Grenada is untapped with a whole host of SUP put ins waiting to be discovered. For anyone with time and inclination who knows what you’ll find in Grenada and its sister island Carriacou.

Zakynthos (Zante), Greece.

Zante is often thought of as a summer season party island. The south’s located Laganas Strip certainly plays into this. Although even here you’ll find some pretty good flat water SUP opportunities. It’s the northern part of Zakynthos where the real SUP magic happens though. Head towards the port of Agios Nikolaos and the stunning Ionian waters open up a world of paddling opportunities.

The renowned Blue Caves are to be found here – within easy reach by SUP from the port. Whilst a whole load of other adventure SUP routes can be found heading back slightly south. If you get the opportunity to paddle Shipwreck Bay (mostly only accessible by boat) then we’d say take it!

Ile de Re, France.

Even closer to home (UK), located in France’s Charentes Maritime region, is the offshore island of Ile de Re. In close proximity to La Rochelle the island is a real watersports haven and a hub for SUP. It doesn’t matter what type of stand up paddling you’re after you’ll find it here. Mellow sand bottom beach breaks, full on reef waves, picturesque adventure SUPing and a few downwind runs. 

Il de Re can be perfect if you’re after easy going SUP surf waves.

You also have the option of checking out Ile de Re’s neighbouring island Ile de Oleron. Similar in some ways but with its own vibe, Oleron is another bang on overseas SUP location.

Corralejo, Fuerteventure, Canary Islands.

The NE part of Fuerteventura is where you’ll find the harbour town, turned tourist hub, Corralejo. The town’s sheltered harbour is great for flat water paddling and getting to grips with basics. Just downwind you’ll find Rocky Point which is a great SUP surfing wave. Handling decent size it’s still doable for experienced paddlers up to significant wave height.

Fuerte’s northern track gives access to plenty of SUP spots like this.

Across on the other side of Fuerteventura you’ll find the Cotillo area has an abundance of performance orientated wave spots. From world class breaks to more accessible put ins Fuerte is a surfing playground that many a UK rider hits up during winter.

Cork, Ireland.

The Cork area of southern Ireland isn’t as widely promoted for watersports as the more well known west coast. Yet around the coastal town of Cork, you’ll find an abundance of stand up paddle boarding opportunities.

Cork Harbour itself features plenty of flat water SUP routes. Heading out towards Ireland’s culinary capital of Kinsale is where adventure paddlers will find fulfilment. Then you have the surf spot of Garretstown and its surrounding beaches to quench those wave thirsts. 

Cork and its surrouding beaches offer awesome stand up paddle boarding opportunities.

If further investigation of Ireland’s south coast temps you, head back east towards Tramore where there’s plenty of SUP friendly surf or hit up the West Cork area for off the beaten track put ins.

Whatever the type of stand up paddling you subscribe to there’s somewhere in the world perfect for you. Do some research and get gone!

Don’t forget to check out our other SUP places to paddle articles via the links below.

SUP places to paddle. Adventure SUP location suggestions.

SUP places to paddle. Adventure SUP location suggestions.

SUP adventures for when you get hold of your first (or second, third and so on…) stand up paddle boarding equipment. But where to head for some every man/woman adventure paddling?

SUP paddling The Caledonian Canal (the Great Glen).

Epitomised as an endurance SUP race in the last few years, The Caledonian Canal formed as part of a geological fault line bisecting the Scottish Highlands, the Grampian Mountains and onwards into the Northwest Highlands.

A well paddled kayak route, it’s now become synonymous with SUP adventurers. As such there are plenty of amenities along the way. Although it’s still easy to get off the beaten track, out into the wilds and do your own thing.

Circumnavigating Hayling Island by SUP.

Sitting in the shadow of its bigger neighbour (and Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co. HQ) the Isle of Wight, Hayling’s circumference is roughly 17 miles. As such it’s a tantalising prospect to paddle the whole way round; being perceived to be a relatively easy adventure SUP route.

And easy enough it is (mostly) as long as paddlers get it right with tides. Using the flowing water to push and pull through both Langstone and Chichester Harbours, you can complete the journey in a decent time (if speed’s your thing). Getting it wrong with the tides, and inclement weather means it’ll be a lot more arduous.

One to tick off your bucket list though. Perhaps take part in the annual Round Hayling SUP Challenge that happens every year.

UK river/canal routes.

A bit broad this one but it’s worth mentioning there are numerous great SUP rivers and canals around the UK. All with their own individual personalities and conditions – determined by on how much water flow there is and seasonality.

Unlike coastal spots, inland rivers and canals can often go between points, almost like being on a road. In fact, that’s what many of these waterways were originally for. For adventure SUPing this is great as they have, in some ways, more of a reason to paddled.

SUP places to paddle. Adventure SUP location suggestions.
River and canals are great for SUP adventures.

Whatever your flavour of SUP adventure you’ll no doubt find it with rivers and canals. Off the beaten track or the more well trodden routes can all be ticked off depending what you’re looking to achieve and how Bear Grylls you fancy getting. and don’t worry if you’re based in towns and cities. For instance, in London, Regents Canal is worth checking out. An even better our friends at offer hir, tuition and guiding to make it as easy as possible.

Scotland’s Hebridean islands.

Back to Scotland and the country’s renowned Hebridean islands. Scattered like pebbles across the NW part of the UK the Hebrides all have their own individual look and feel. And with many in close proximity to one another, it’s sometimes easier than you think to paddle between landmasses.

Depending on your experience, time and weather conditions will dictate just how far you can get on your SUP. It may be you’re only paddling a few short distances. Or, alternatively, your plan could be a mammoth track taking in some of the more under the radar routes and locations.

Whatever your choice there’s plenty to keep any stand up paddler looking for adventure busy in this neck of the woods.

The Lake District.

England’s north west corner is where you’ll find the iconic Lake District. Famed for its peaks and fells The Lakes are a hill walker’s dream. But the waterways of The Lakes are also worthy of inspection.

In recent times the area’s become a hive of SUP activity with many schools and centers now in existence. You can take your first paddling steps here or, for those with adventure SUP aspirations, there’s plenty to keep you amused.

Of course, the most identifiable lake is Windemere – the largest natural lake in England. It boasts 11 miles of length and is 1m at its widest. This alone should be enough to keep most paddle boarders entertained.

For those looking at adventure SUP with a bit of endurance paddling thrown in for good measure, considering ‘The Three Lakes Challenge’ could be a good thing. Taking in Bala Lake (Wales), Loch Awe (Scotland) and Windermere is a test of will, wits and paddling. Alternatively, stick with The Lakes itself and investigate all this area has to offer.

Adventure SUP is a broad and diverse topic. It can encompass whatever you feel accounts for an ‘adventure’. The above suggestions are merely that; suggestions. Whether coast or inland, if there’s water you’re ripe for a SUP adventure. And summer 2022 is the perfect time to indulge.

You don’t need particularly specialist SUP gear for adventuring. A standard 10’6 inflatable board will be enough. Of course, should you fancy a more touring orientated shape in your quiver then our 11’5 Compact Tourer will make trekking and adventuring a little easier.

Whatever your idea of SUP adventure our advice is get involved. Unlike SUP surfing for instance you’re not bound and constrained by one location. Get out there, get gone and put some SUP adventure in your life.

Don’t forget to check out more from Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s blog here.

SUP places to paddle. Improver SUP surfing location suggestions.

SUP places to paddle. Improver SUP surfing location suggestions.

SUP surfing can be tricky when you’re looking to improve. Having enjoyed those first few slides on micro waves the next step is to get involved with more challenging swell. But the right location, with the right wave, needs to be given careful consideration. Taking on too much is a recipe for disaster. And not all waves break the same. Making life as easy as you can is the best approach.

Here are a few SUP surfing locations that’ll help paddlers improve their wave riding skills. There are plenty more but these should set you off on the right foot.

Saunton Sands, North Devon.

Saunton Sands is a mecca for longboard surfing. The rolling nature of the swell, wide open space of both the beach and water, plus the easy going atmosphere make Saunton a magnet for stylists and performers alike.

Easy like Sunday morning for a spot of Saunton SUP.

At the northern end, next to the rocks, is where you’ll find the main peak. It’s also the corner that’s sheltered from N-NW winds. We’d suggest avoiding here though as it’s where Saunton gets most busy. And with plenty of peaks further along the beach, you’ll most likely find a quiet patch to yourself. (Which is much better for improving).

During high season Saunton’s mellower style waves are great fun. And there are plenty of rides to be snagged. Do be aware that if the surf pulses, however, it can be a tricky paddle out with lots of white water to negotiate. And big waves are still big waves, regardless. With consequences of getting it wrong the same wherever you go.

Compton Bay, Isle of Wight.

We couldn’t pen a guide like this and not mention Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.’s own backyard. Compton Bay sits on the southern side of the island and picks up a decent amount of swell, relative to its English Channel location. Compton’s waves are mostly mellow, slower breakers but just as with every spot it has its day – especially during winter.

During bigger swell sessions the paddle out can be tricky and you’ll take as much of a beating here as anywhere. Also, there’s usually a frothing pack of other riders – surfers and SUP surfers – that you’ll need to be aware and keep clear of.

SUP surfing vs surfing
Mello days at Compton Bay, IOW.

Some rocks that appear during certain stages of tide should also be noted. You can move either left or right a little if Compton’s main peak in front of the steps gets too busy.

Marazion, Mounts Bay, Cornwall.

Marazion – or Maza as it’s commonly referred to – is a beach that’s overlooked by the iconic St. Michael’s Mount. Being in close proximity to St. Ives and Penzance, Marazion’s a southern facing beach that doesn’t get quite the same swell as surrounding beaches. As such, it can be quieter and more suited to improver SUP surfing. Unfortunately, Maza’s inconsistency shows itself more starkly in summer when you’ll be hard pushed to find a wave here unless it’s windy.

Maza’s off season SUP surfing opportunities are more abundant. You’ll need to watch out for a few rocks dotted about, depending where you launch. And high tide can see quite a thumping shore dump is there are waves. When Maza lights up though it can be a fun SUP surfing spot with some fairly decent rides to be had. And if all else fails, other spots are close by, if you choose wisely.

Hayling Island, Hampshire.

Tucked in the lea of the Isle of Wight Hayling Island isn’t perhaps the first location you think of when talking waves. Yet Hayling – particularly in winter – does pretty well on the swell front. It’s also a fab place for SUP in general, not just SUP surfing.

Should you get lucky with waves the beauty of Hayling is its room. There’s plenty of space to practice and get it wrong. Without too much chance of causing problems to others. Hayling’s waves break on an offshore sandbank that’s just out to sea around a mile or so. Depending of the swell is dictates where along the bank you get waves. Solid pulses see waves break along the sand bar’s entire length. Small waves, meanwhile, will probably be right out back.

SUP places to paddle. 5 improver SUP surfing locations.
SUP surfing at Hayling Island.

Tide is a big factor here so it’s wise to know what’s going on. And watch out for the high water shore dump which can get pretty hefty at times. If it’s thumping then better to sit on the bench until waters recede.

Tiree, Hebrides, Scotland.

The Hebridean island of Tiree is a stunning location that, on any given sunshine day, could be mistaken for further flung, more tropical locations. White sand beaches and azure coloured waters make it a very attractive spot for some SUP surfing action.

Tiree has multiple beaches to choose from, depending on conditions. The Maze is where experienced riders will head, although if smaller then it might also be doable for improver SUP surfers. Gott Bay and Crossapol are the more mellow put ins for improving wave riders though due to their more sheltered nature.

Tiree is a watersports paradise so even if waves aren’t playing ball there’re other activities to choose from. Windsurfing, for instance, is big on the island. It’s home to the Tiree Wave Challenge windsurf comp which happens every year. If you want coaching then there’s a watersports school on the island to help you on your way.

Llangennith, The Gower, Wales.

Llangennith’s huge beach, merging with Rhossili at low tide, gives ample space for improving your SUP wave riding techniques. It’s easy access and on smaller swell is very doable. It can get busy – especially during summer. But spreading away from the pack is simple.

‘Gennith’s exposed nature means it does pick up all swell that swings into the area. It’s actually the indicator spot for surrounding beaches. And can get quite hefty if there’s a big pulse. At size Llangennith can be a brutal paddle out will seemingly endless walls of white water to overcome. At this point, it’d probably be worth taking a breather or checking elsewhere.

On a summer day with 2ft of swell, this corner of Wales can be blissful though.

These locations aren’t a comprehensive list of improver SUP surfing locations as many others also exist. As a starting point though, these put ins will get you on your way to wave riding nirvana.

Check out more from Freshwater Bay paddleboard Co.’s blog here.

SUP lessons, of the life and industry variety – with Chris Houghton.

SUP lessons, of the life and industry variety – with Chris Houghton.

SUP ‘lessons’ aren’t just limited to what you learn on the water. SUP can teach us a lot about ourselves and life in general. Without getting too cliché, metaphorical and quote laden there’s a whole raft of things to glean from being outdoors, paddling and soaking up life. If you happen to work in the stand up paddle boarding industry – perhaps own a SUP brand – then these SUP life lessons are even greater. Mainly because you get a view from both sides. Of course, added to this is actually understanding and learning about what makes a stand up paddle boarding brand successful.

Some of you may be aware that Chris Houghton got involved with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co in late 2020. His enthusiasm for restarting the mothballed business saw the iconic logo back in full view. But how’s it actually been on the ground, so to speak? Read on for more about Chris, Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co and those life lessons learned through SUP and being part of the stand up paddle boarding industry.

For the benefit of those that don’t know, give us a brief background of your previous endeavors.

Having spent much of my time at university studying witchcraft, the natural progression for me was accountancy. I spent 7 years in the City before moving into industry and specialising in utilities and making our energy system more sustainable. This culminated with 4 years at OVO Energy where I started as the numbers guy before taking on the CEO role.

However, at the end of 2018, I felt that the time was right to do something different. And so, for the last few years, I’ve focused on the dual track approach of both helping fast growing businesses to scale and also spending time with my own businesses in the premium sporting market.

Most notable on the advisory side is Teemill (, a fantastic Isle of Wight technology platform business that helps establish and grow circular clothing brands that combat ‘fast fashion’ and focus on operating sustainably and reducing waste.    

And, paddle boards aside, I also co-own Spoon Group (, the high end custom bike businesses of Spoon Customs and WyndyMilla and the paint studio, Gun Control Custom Paint. Unlike many high end cycling brands designing identikit bikes for World Tour riders, we make ‘your’ bike – fitted, fabricated and finished exactly as you want it for a fast, exhilarating ride every time.

How and when did you first come across Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co?

I used to come to the Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight for holidays as a child – as many generations of my family have done before me. About 8 years ago I ‘rediscovered’ the island and always feel so relaxed and at peace when I am here.

Reason to fall in love with Freshwater Bay and the Isle of Wight.

I would often see these amazing hard board SUPs on the water at the Bay and desperately wanted to get my hands on one. However, for various reasons, production had been discontinued and the Freshwater Bay brand had been mothballed. I liked them so much that I bought the assets of the business and, with the help and support of the original founder, Charlie Cripwell, restarted the business in October 2020.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co longboard SUP
Charlie Cripwell – the original founder of Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co.

What did (do) you like about the brand?

Without a doubt, it’s the hard boards that really stand out – our longboard style Classic surf SUPs. I love everything about them. The shape, the build quality and the vibrant colours deliver the performance and aesthetics, while its Island roots and the iconic Freshwater Bay logo – designed by very talented local artist Zoe Sadler – give it soul!

The Classic SUPs are the ‘hero’ product, the high performance sports car of the range, and what I think sets us apart from so many other brands in the space. It’s very difficult to create a great hard board that performs well in the surf and flat water, but the Classic really delivers.

And, that same mentality and methodology that delivers for our Classic SUPs, has been distilled and infused into our range of inflatable SUPs too – high quality materials and finishes that perform well and are built to last.

When and why did you decide to get involved?

To me, the brand and the Bay are so special that in summer 2020 I decided to help champion both. I was certain that there was a market for high quality products from a small UK brand if I could just get our name out there and in front of the right people.

By your own admission you weren’t a hardcore stand up paddler. So why take on a SUP business?

I like a challenge and I like being outside – whether that’s cycling, paddling or walking – getting out in the fresh air is good for your physical and mental health. I am also a great supporter of living a less disposable lifestyle; owning fewer, nicer things that are built to last and are a reflection of the life you want to live and the businesses you want to support. I also hoped that there would be some transferable skills and learnings from my years with high end bicycles.

Just one shining example of a WyndyMilla custom bike.

In a nutshell how’s it been during your first year of SUP proper?

Tougher than I’d hoped, but largely as I’d expected. After a few years out of the market, it’s taken some time to re-establish and differentiate ourselves in what is now quite a crowded market of volume players.

We’ve had great engagement from our demo partners – many of whom we worked with originally and were excited to see us back in the space – and amazing support from Aaran at Earth, Wind and Water on the Island – but direct sales have lagged behind where I’d hoped they’d be in the first year. That said, we sold out of our first order completely and have just received our second repeat order, so it’s difficult to be too dissatisfied with that.

What’s the most notable thing you’ve learned since being part of the stand up paddle boarding industry?

Very few people know what they’re buying or why they’re buying it. No two SUP models are the same. Firstly, we all know that there’s a broad spectrum of quality on offer out there, but it is often very difficult for the customer to appreciate the important differences just by eye-balling the products. And, secondly, if they are convinced by the merits of investing in quality, the ride quality will vary tremendously depending on the shape of the board – a 10’6 is not a 10’6.

The best advice is not new advice – try as many boards as you can before making a decision for you and the type of riding you do. Don’t be unduly swayed by fashion or big brand marketing – take some test rides. That’s why we’ve invested so much in our demo network, to ensure customers can try our boards before they buy them.

SUP lessons, of the life and industry variety - with Chris Houghton.
One of the many Freshwater Paddleboard Co demo centers.

Any achievements you’re proud of so far?

Achieving a clean sweep of highly positive reviews for all of our products last year. While our range remains largely unchanged from the brand’s original incarnation, we have made a number of tweaks to improve the rider’s experience. We believe in small iterations to timeless Classics that are built to last.

Talk us through the challenges of being a small, independent SUP brand.

The ongoing tactical challenges include the significant investment required to maintain appropriate stock levels; the current astronomical shipping costs and delays; the appropriate positioning of the products to achieve successful marketing cut-through; and the absence of reliable oversized couriers for hard board logistics.

details of a Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co inflatable SUP
Small independent brands can often be tricky beasts to ‘get out there’.

From a more strategic point of view, there is the ongoing challenge around the best course for brand and product development. It’s a crowded space, so we’re clear that differentiation is required to be long term successful.

What’s the best advice you’d give to anyone considering a similar path?

If they’re looking to provide cheap, undifferentiated products to the mass market, I’d say don’t. It’s a space that’s overcrowded now and the recent bubble fuelled by pandemic staycations may already have burst.

However, I think there’s always a place for brands that can form a real connection with their community and offer competitively priced, quality items. In particular, I do think that hard boards will fare well as an upgrade option for those that have really embraced the sport over the last few years – especially those looking to take up SUP surfing, where the difference in experience between an inflatable and hardboard is truly night and day.

SUP hard living The hard board question.
All lined up and ready to rock – hard and inflatable Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co SUP boards.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co are noted for their Classic hard SUP range. Are hard boards trickier to sell than inflatables?

Yes and no. The next level performance of a hard board sells itself – especially when it comes to the choppy stuff. So, if you’ve got somewhere to store one and a roof rack for your car, they’re often the obvious choice – not least because you save yourself the inflating and packing away each trip.

However, if you don’t have that flexibility and/or are hoping to travel further afield with your board, an iSUP can be the more practical and robust option.

Certainly from a logistics point of view, shipping iSUPs is significantly easier than hard boards.

Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co also have a SUP surfing pedigree. Is this something you’re keen on further promoting?

Yes, definitely. SUP surfing has always been the basis of the brand and its reason for being. Charlie established the brand because he couldn’t find a longboard style surf SUP that met his requirements, so he had his own manufactured for the job. The rest, as they say, is history.

We’re currently on the lookout for some further brand ambassadors in this space. So drop us a line if you like what we do and think we will too!

Longboard surfer extraordinaire Al Reed aboard a Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co Classic 9’11 SUP.

Adventure SUP goes hand in hand with surf (as there aren’t always waves). What work do you plan on doing here with the brand?

We have a few ‘secret squirrel’ plans on this front that are very exciting but a little too early to share. For most people, our 11’5 Compact Tourer is exactly what they need to travel fast and far in pursuit of the next adventure. An accomplished and capable touring setup.

However, we’re also looking to push boundaries for the few that really like to challenge themselves. So it’s likely that this will be an area where we see the most R&D development in the short term as we work with genuine experts in this field to develop the ultimate expedition craft.

SUP longboard surfing with Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co’s Classic.
Find adventure with your own Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co SUP board.

It’s often tricky to convey a small brand message so how do you go about getting it out there?

I would say that this is very much still a work in progress. We’re a premium item in a crowded market of items that look visually similar to most people. There is no substitute for word of mouth recommendations and for test riding the boards yourself. That is why we’ve invested heavily in our demo centers. Thankfully our product reviews from SUP Mag UK and SUP International have all been very positive, so we’re hopeful that marketing will get easier as brand awareness increases.

What are your and FWBPC’s goals for the new SUP season?

I think this season is a year of consolidation. Building on last year’s effort, keeping the range the same, amplifying the messaging and planning for the future. We’ll be in a better position to judge the opportunities in front of us once we see what a post-pandemic summer season looks like I think.

SUP board choices
A new season of SUP is just around the corner.

Where would you like to see Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co heading as a company? An all round watersports brand or keeping it a smaller, specific SUP business for instance?

I think there’s no rush to diversify. I’m keen to maintain a period of stability before making any decisions on this front. That said, I see the future trending more to our roots in hard board development and possibly not just SUPs.

Any predictions as far as the wider stand up paddle boarding industry and sport goes?

In the short term I think shipping costs will force a wave of price increases. And it’s likely that a cooling of the market for inflatables will see a thinning out of the players especially at the cheaper end of the spectrum.

SUP lessons, of the life and industry variety - with Chris Houghton.
SUP adventures are just waiting to be discovered.

I see increasing interest in SUP surfing, touring, white water, expeditions and racing as those new to the sport find their niche. Equally, and for the same reasons, I expect to see a very buoyant market for quality second hand boards which I am fully supportive of.

Personally, do you have specifics you want to tick off with SUP?

I’d like to have some more time to paddle. In 2014 I thought I’d ride my bike more if I had a bike company – this is not the case! I am, it would seem, a slow learner in this respect, but I do hope to continue to develop as a rider of both two wheels and waves when opportunity allows.

Anything you can tell us about your other interests outside of SUP?

I’m a keen snowboarder (actually, there’s a thought…), cyclist and socialiser. I’m happiest working and spending time around small groups of people, making things happen and having fun!

SUP lessons, of the life and industry variety - with Chris Houghton.
SUP socials can be the best!

Final thoughts on Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co and stand up paddling at large?

Only that it’s a great brand within a great sport – it deserves to be successful. Not for me, but for everyone that’s played their part in delivering something remarkable.

Anyone you’d like to thank and acknowledge?

So many – you know who you are.

But special mention to Charlie Cripwell, the founder and creator of the Freshwater Bay Paddleboard brand, without whom none of this would have existed. Zoe Sadler for our iconic logo that plants us firmly in the Bay. Adrift Visuals for producing such great brand content, Jason Swain for handling the tech and Aaron at Earth, Wind and Water and all our demo partners for representing and supporting the brand since day one.

Don’t forget to check out further articles from our bog here.

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.