Stand Up and Paddle - Idaho's premiere stand up paddle board instruction

Boards and Paddles

 

Boards

 

Boards now come in all different shapes, sizes, and materials. In the beginning stand up paddleboards were pretty much big surfboards in the 12-foot range. The objective was to have a board big enough to float the standing paddler without the power of a wave to hold them up. Many boards on the market today follow the same plan only now board builders have learned that for stand up paddling it makes sense to build them a lot thicker and wider than a regular surfboard. Using thickness and width allows a board to carry the same weight rider on a board a foot (or more) shorter, making boards a bit easier to handle on and off the water. Another change is the construction materials. New lighter materials have cut board weight down making them a third lighter than traditional fiberglass surfboard construction. Lighter boards are more responsive to your paddle and much easier to carry.

 

Specialization is the next big difference from the early days of the sport. People have found all kinds of things to do on a stand up paddleboard that are more fun when the board is built specifically for that part of the sport. Stand up boards that are built for surfing have become much smaller; many of them not much bigger than traditional surfboards. Racing and touring boards are long and narrow with pointed (displacement) noses. These boards glide long distances with each paddle stroke and the pointed nose moves efficiently through the water even in chop. White water boards are often shaped like kayaks or thick surfboards and made from impact resistant materials including some that are inflatable like a white water raft. Some boards are built very wide to optimize fishing and even yoga. A relatively recent discovery is the ability to ride swells created by sustained high winds on boards specifically made for what is called downwinding. Click some of the links on my home page to explore the wide range of boards.

 

Most people start out with an all-around board that is between 10’ and 12’. It is not unusual to keep your first board indefinitely so make sure it is one you like and will hold up for years to come. As you become more experienced a specialized board may be more fun, but your all-around board is handy to share with friends or when your specialty board does not fit the day. I like to paddle with my dog and will always want my old faithful board that is sturdy and stable.

 

Paddles

 

Paddles have three main parts; the handle, shaft, and the blade. The blade is the part that goes in the water and in the early days was usually teardrop shaped. Today blades have a range of shapes with some being more rectangular as well as teardrop, and come in many different sizes. The size of a blade is measured in length and width, but also how many square inches of surface area. A larger blade is good for larger stronger paddlers and also for cruising or touring where paddling is relaxed. A smaller blade fits smaller people and is useful for paddling quickly where strokes are done rapidly to go fast. The length of the paddle shaft is more or less based on the paddler’s over-head reach and is usually 5 to 7 inches taller than the height of the person. Paddle cost has a relationship with materials and weight. Inexpensive paddles are made from less expensive materials like durable plastics and fiberglass. Medium priced paddles are a combination of very light materials like carbon and less expensive fiberglass and wood. Expensive paddles are usually all carbon from handle to blade and feel almost weightless in your hands. Blade shape and paddle design can get pretty technical so I recommend you talk to a trusted friend or sales person about what they use and why they like them. Each manufacturer has their story and design on their website. I like Kialoa because of their philosophy, but Werner, Quickblade, and Ke Nalu to name a few, are excellent products.

 

Most people start with a low to medium priced paddle, and like your first board, it is not unusual to keep a starter paddle indefinitely as a back-up or loaner paddle to share, so it makes sense to buy a quality brand even at the low end of the price range. Expect to pay over a hundred and up to two hundred dollars for your starter paddle. Yikes! I know; but you will probably have it forever. I went whole hog on my first paddle (I knew I was hooked on the sport) and bought a full carbon with a teardrop shape blade that was popular back then. I still have it (and use it) and never regretted a penny of the cost.