What is a SUP Paddle Board


I was fishing at a local Park a few years ago and spotted a dozen or so girls doing handstands on surfboards in the lake. I asked one of the girls what kind of surfboard she was on, she said in a distinctive voice ” this is not a surfboard, this is a SUP” I kind of snickered and thought, What is a SUP paddleboard?

SUP stands for a Stand Up Paddleboard. Sups are inflatable or solid constructed and come in 3 sizes & shapes. It can be outfitted for fishing or whatever type of leisure & sports activities done on a lake, river, or ocean that you are participating in.

SUP activities vary from yoga with nature as a back-drop, can be used for fishing, can be made to cruise distances, explore or even race like kayaking. There are different sizes, shapes, and accessories. Introduce yourself to the world of SUP.

Planing Hull vs Displacement Hull

A Planing Hull is flat and wide and good for leisure paddling, surfing, SUP Yoga, and whitewater. It’s designed to ride above the water and is very maneuverable.

A Displacement Hull with a pointed nose or a bow which is the front end is similar to a canoe or kayak. The hull will slice through the water pushing it around the nose to the sides of the SUP to improve efficiency and create a fast smooth ride. The efficiency of a displacement hull requires less effort than a planning hull.

This allows you to move at faster speeds and for longer periods of time and distance with less energy. They also will track nice and straight but are a little harder to maneuver and control than the planning Hull SUPs.

Inflatable vs Solid SUP

SUP boards come in solid or inflatable construction. Most solid construction boards are made from EPS foam core that is wrapped with fiberglass and epoxy. They are lightweight and made of durable construction. There is an even lighter construction using Carbon fiber that is a stiffer material and is more expensive.

The SUP’s made from plastic is the most inexpensive but they are bulky and heavy lacking in performance compared to other different materials. Some SUPs use lightweight wood for a beautiful appearance.

Solid boards are made for performance and they will travel faster with less effort. If paddling fast is your need then this one is for you. Solid SUPs are available in a large variety of sizes and more finely tuned shapes than the inflatable version. It has a rigid feel especially when in the ocean riding those waves. They also tend to ride lower in the water. 

Inflatable boards are made from PVC material and have drop-stitch construction that creates an air core. They come with a pump to inflate the board and a carry bag to keep when not in use. Inflatable SUP boards like these listed through Amazon are easy to access and ready to go is good for people that live in apartments and don’t have the room for a solid board.

They can be easily stowed away. They’re good for road trips and trailblazing. Inflatables can be carried in your knapsack on hikes or camping. When it comes to whitewater and rapids where there are obstacles like rocks and logs, the inflatable SUP board is how to go.

It just is more suitable for that kind of rough environment. They are also more suitable for yoga a little softer on your body when doing the exercises.

What Size SUP Board Do I Need

The SUP board has to support your weight and perform well. It needs to feel stable as it travels through the water. The board’s volume and weight capacity affect how stable you feel using it. Volume and weight capacity are determined by the length, width, and thickness of the board.

Each board has a weight capacity listed in pounds. The total weight consists of your weight and everything you add to the board when you ride it. This could be gear and equipment. If you are planning on fishing with the SUP, then you will need a bigger board. If you are starting out then get a  Beginners SUP Board, one that is recommended by someone in the place you are buying one.

Sup Boards Come in Three Lengths

The length of the board determines variables like the fact that longer boards move faster but shorter boards are more maneuverable and easier to handle.

  1. Short Boards under 10 feet are great for surfing and kids and almost always have a planning hull. Younger kids can use boards down to as little as 8 ft. that are easier to control.
  2. Medium boards10 to 12 ft. are ideal for all-around use especially the popular SUP yoga exercise. Most of these boards have a planning hull but sometimes you will find a few that will have a displacement hull at around this length.
  3. Longboards are 12 ft. 6in. and above are great for fast paddling and long-distance. The majority of these boards carry displacement hulls. they are faster than the shorter boards and tend to track better. If you are an adventurer and are looking for speed and long distance then this is your board.

Width & Thickness

  • Wider boards are more stable than a skinnier board
  • SUP’s range in the width of  25 inches up to 36 inches depending on your needs
  • Long hours on the water that require extra gear would utilize a  wider board to accommodate supplies.
  • Racers and surfers looking for speed will take a skinnier board

As a general rule, try to line up your body size with the width of the board. If you don’t size up the board correctly it will affect how you row, your balance and movement, and your ability level as the wider board will just be an easier ride for a novice user who has less experience.

The Easiest way to put it is the thicker the board the more volume and the more volume the board has, the more weight it can support. It will work the same way as the other dimensions in that speed will come with a skinnier but longer board. The wider and thicker the more stability but at the cost of moving a little more slowly.

Extra important accessories included with your SUP board are Fins. SUP fins add stability and tracking to aboard. In general larger fins with wider bases and longer front edges add more stability than the smaller fins. On the other hand, smaller fins can add greater maneuverability to your board.

There are many options and configurations when it comes to SUP Fins. Single fin for flat water or a 3-fin set-up called a thruster that promotes straight tracking on flat water. A  2+ 1 fin setup that sports one big fin in the middle and 2 smaller ones on the outside is for surfing. Inflatables use the same fin setups as the solid boards.

SUP Board Accessories

  • SUP Paddle looks a little like a stretched-out canoe paddle with a teardrop-shaped blade. You need to size your paddle correctly.
  • PFD A Personal Flotation DeviceOnly US Coast Guard will do. Paddleboards are regarded as vessels, so it is required that you wear one. 
  • You will also have to carry a whistle and have a light with your gear after sunset. 
  • A wet or Dry suit is reasonable to wear on the water for extended times. and summer clothing in normal season hot weather.
  • A Leash that tethers your SUP board to you in the event you fall off.
  • Carracks can carry your long solid board on tops like a surfboard or bicycle. Inflatables are easier to deal with and can get packed in the trunk of your car or SUV

Inflatable vs Solid Boards

SUP Basics

Now that you have the right equipment, and everything you bought is sized correctly. Have a life jacket and the right clothing on, you are ready to go. Here are some tips on Launching, Standing, Paddling, and Falling off your board, and getting back on your board which will definitely happen.

So get your sunscreen and a hat for the sun. Put your life jacket on. Let’s Go! You can find all the amazing equipment and a large number of supplies online at Amazon click here to check prices on SUP & Equipment. through MyWaterEarth&Sky

  • Launching– Strap your leash on so your board can get away from you fast if you fall off. Carry your board out to knee-deep water so your fin doesn’t hit bottom.-Get on to the board from either side.-Paddle out to deeper water-When you are ready to stand-Put your hands on the deck and move your feet up to take the place of your hands one at a time-Raise your chest until your back is straight and stand up in one motion.
  • Paddling-When you are paddling -one hand is at the top of the handle and the other is a few feet down-What ever side you are paddling on that same hand will be on the shaft-Make sure that the blade angle is away from you facing the front of the board. The power of the stroke comes from your core, not your arms.
  • Falling In and Getting Back On The Board– If you lose your balance fall away from your board.-Try and fall flat on the water so you won’t go deep and hit anything-To get back on-Come around the side, grab the handle and using your elbows to push down on the near edge and reach across the board grab the far edge-Let your leg float up to the surface-Then kick your legs with one motion-pull the board underneath you.

Remember to adjust your saddle height. This can prevent an injury and will create a more efficient paddling movement. A rough guide will be that the paddle will be 6 inches above your head. Experiment for the best height over a period of time. Position your hands far enough apart for ease of operating and the most power. Your blade should be buried in the water for the most bang for your buck.

These little things can add up to wasted energy. Don’t shovel your paddle during the stroke. Instead, keep the paddle down until it goes past your feet then bring it up. Hold that paddle vertical. Your top hand should be in line with your bottom hand for a good paddling technique which will add speed, fineness, and less wasted energy.

The SUP or Stand Up Boards are a great way to fish, kill some leisure time, get your yoga on, or enjoy an adventure in the ocean surf or on a flat lake.

The boards come in all different price sizes and construction for the veteran paddle boarder whose looking for speed to the novice who just wants to get some exercise and sun. It a great way to get out and get healthy. My SUP Is To Fish.

      JimGalloway Author/Editor

Related Questions:

How do I prepare for paddle boarding?

Your feet parallel, about hip-width distance apart &  between the edges of the board. Keep your toes pointed forward, knees slightly bent & back straight.
Keep your head and shoulders upright & shift your weight.

What size sup do I need? The most popular SUP boards for use are 10-11 feet in length & between 32 and 34 ” wide. If stability is a high priority for you, you’ll want to look for a board that is 33-34 ” wide.

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