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 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’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.
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!
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.
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.
Freshwater Bay Classic SUP – Blue & White
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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