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River, ocean, lake, canal, pond; race, surf, tour, downwind. Where and how you can paddle a standup board is endless. And that means a safety realm just as broad. Having fun is important, but doing it safely should be priority one. We’ve broken safety down into three segments.


Be Humble. Be courteous of prone surfers. Know your ability level and do your best to surf in zones designated for standup paddling. Or better yet, paddle to a lesser-known (usually less-popular) break. Even though it might not be the same quality, you have a paddle in your hands so you can make it past that flat section on the wave. Plus, you’ll have it to yourself. Beginners should never paddle out into a crowded lineupfilled with prone surfers and/or boogie boarders. Surfing well is about experience. Ask a shop owner for good spots in your area to gain it.

Wear a leash. Standup boards are not small. If they get away from you they are dangerous in surf zones. Be sure you’re wearing a leash. Plus, that board attached to you is the best form of flotation you have.

Wear a suit. As a beginner, you’ll probably be in the water a lot. A good wetsuit can do wonders for your core body temperature. And hypothermia can happen fast in cold climates.

Use sunscreen. Or a rashguard to protect your skin. In tropical climates (or anywhere you’re exposed to the sun for that matter), sunburn can occur within 15 minutes. Try waterproof SPF 30-50.

Photo Robert Zaleski


Be Humble. Know your ability level, starting slow and moving up. Talk to an outfitter, guide or your local shop owner for recommendations. Find a good, slow-moving stretch of water to get used to current and how it feels relative to your board.

Wear a PFD. In the river the PFD is paramount. Currents bumping off an uneven riverbed are unpredictable at best. A lifejacket is key to the running rivers safely on a SUP.

Use a Quick-Release. The use of leashes on the river is debatable. Loose rope or straps that could cause entanglement have always been poo-pooed in river culture. If you do use a leash (always coiled), it must be done in conjunction with a quick-release belt (inarguable). The leash attaches to a metal O-ring with the belt releasable at the waist in case of emergency. Even in slow current, a leash hung up on a branch or tree can be deadly; the force of water is many times your body weight, making it impossible to reach your ankle if need be.

Wear a Helmet. Protecting your dome is always a good thing.

Hypothermia is Real. Since you’re on a river, the water is probably coming from snowmelt. Be sure and wear a wetsuit, drysuit or other paddling gear to keep warm.

Wear Protective Gear. Many of the rivers we paddle are shallow. And if you’re paddling rapids, shin and kneepads work in case of a fall.

Paddle with a Partner. This pretty much applies to any kind of paddling. It’s always better to be on the water with a buddy.


Be Humble. Know your limits. If it’s your first time, you don’t need to do a marathon. Talk to your local shop owner about good places for first-timers to paddle.

Bring Flotation. Check with your local shop owner about Coast Guard rules and regulations (as well as local policy) regarding lifejackats and paddling vessels. Regardless, it’s always good to have a PFD on board, especially since companies like MTI make versions you can wear around your waist that don’t inhibit your stroke.

Know the Weather. It can change instantly. Find the best local website for weather forecasts, wind and/or wave predictions and tide charts. Have a plan and tell someone back on land what it is. There’s no shame in carrying a SPOT device or some other form of communication. You’ll be safer for it.

Paddle with a Partner. Again. It’s just fun to share. And it’s safer.

And finally. We can preach safety at the top of our keyboards, and you can research it all you want on the interwebs, but absolutely nothing will ever replace interaction with a good, experienced shop owner. Find one now in your area and ask more questions. Get more answers and have fun safely. This article originally ran in our 2013 Beginner’s Guide.

N1SCO Sprint Evening – a success

What a fun way to start off the season with the help from JB of Naish and Warwick of RPS. The distance was around 280 metres, give or take with lots of bumps and wind. We had 26 participants with lots of onlookers as well. Over 20 people enjoyed a great dinner to farewell the Victorians who will represent the state in the up and coming Nationals next week. Keep a look out for the next Twilight event. Listed below are the participants best time, Steve was the fastest by 1 second and Michael had the most goes – clocking up 6 goes. Mick 1.53 Ewan 1.33 JB 1.33 Owen 1.58 Steve F 1.32 Steve S 3.40 Sharon 1.51 Sophie 2.25 Chris 1.36 Michael 1.38 Kate 2.05 Will 1.47 Aiden 1.47 Simon 1.36 Shannon 1.39 Craig 1.45 Allan 1.39 Janyce 1.51 Tim 1.47 Damien 1.41 Jon 1.39 Felicity 2.03 Mel 1.53 Emmie 1.48 Johnno 1.51 Oli 2.05 10580687_476080302534485_7547938713441230006_o 1932738_476080082534507_5630277490327885945_o 10713984_476080489201133_5436637862234807764_o 10714394_476080385867810_3937808482904421785_o 10631244_476080449201137_4208670406173748812_o 10264218_476080499201132_2167693611692195277_o 1801380_476080229201159_8761305501994500741_o 1956976_476080475867801_3407363722040383056_o 10708748_476080559201126_4882912494325853309_o 10006100_476080452534470_3199325059273072436_o 10679774_476080172534498_8006753913530445561_o 10668779_476080119201170_2876141392965060636_o 10548146_476080355867813_2170840000334002037_o 10636871_476080245867824_7374389370399737235_o 10431310_476080139201168_3437888440059006792_o 1780286_476080575867791_4847530365045032840_o 10687940_476080522534463_3697826770198804666_o 10697271_476080159201166_7337332590056852184_o 10714580_476080255867823_3500593807235200499_o 1932738_476080545867794_368239914419984794_o 10661683_476080429201139_642637580455009239_o 10711047_476080179201164_7672593593064803337_n 10604483_476080065867842_5077942207643992435_o 10454510_476080072534508_4246993566688299410_o 10628843_476080319201150_2572925248816683443_o 1921199_476080375867811_7385424756980924629_o