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Paddle has established itself as the trendy outdoor sport, accessible to beginners and experts alike. Here’s our professional opinion on the right stand-up paddle equipment to choose, the right prices, as well as spots, accessories and paddles boards!
Firstly, stand up paddle is a super all-round water sport. Generally speaking, it stimulates your cardio, as well as the muscles of your upper body, legs and abdominal muscles. It’s also the perfect way to improve your balance! Secondly, sup is very versatile. Whether you’re going on an adventure or just out for a ride with an all-round paddle, racing competitively, for family use or even surfing and SUP foiling: everything is possible with this discipline, in all conditions, and that’s what we love about it. So much more than kayaking and canoeing, you can exploit all the best that the sea and white water have to offer.
If you’re a beginner and you’ve never really practised water sports, the first thing to consider is not so much what you do, but your level. It’s important to choose a board that’s easy to learn. It would be a shame to give up on stand-up paddling as soon as you start with equipment that’s too small. Width is particularly important, as it determines your stability.
For intermediate riders, or those who already practise other board sports such as kitesurfing or windsurfing, you can already start to find your bearings depending on what you’re doing (surfing, cruising, etc.), but the best thing is to go for boards that offer a minimum of versatility and comfort so you don’t get into trouble.
For SUP experts, it’s what you do that defines your needs, and we’re going to explain in detail which board is perfect for each activity, so you can get the most out of it!
Generally speaking, these are the parameters we’ll be using to define the shape (or general form) of the SUP. Note that for the same level of ability, the bigger your size, the wider and longer you’ll need to make life easier.
The longer your paddle board, the more it ‘glides’. In other words, your paddle stroke will be more effective. Length also reduces the amount of ‘row’. If your sup is very short, it will tend to pivot to the right if you paddle to the left. This is very useful in surfing to be nimble on the wave, but less pleasant in competition or over long distances when you want to change sides as little as possible…
It provides comfort and stability. On the other hand, it will make you slower and require more effort to maintain speed. If you’re just starting out, it’s very important to have a consistent width so that you don’t get into trouble.
This is even more important for inflatable paddles, which need to have their skins spread apart to guarantee a minimum of rigidity. As you increase the thickness, you reduce the feeling of gliding as you move further away from the water. A greater thickness also reduces balance, as you find yourself being tossed around like a cork on the water beyond 5 inches.
Pointed noses are ideal for racing or for making a bit of distance, as they allow you to split the wave easily. In surfing or for beginners, noses become rounder, losing glide but gaining grip on the waves. On rigid paddles, you can also work on the shape of the bow, hull and deck to help them get through choppy water, for example.
They are very varied, but to put it simply, the more pinched the tail, the more manoeuvrability you gain and the less stability you lose. The wider it is, the less manoeuvrable you are on the wave but the better your start and the more stable you are.
Combined, theses can be used to create shapes, or sup shapes, that are more or less suited to your level of riding. Here are the main shapes to be found on the market, from all the brands on sale.
What you need is an intermediate length for versatility (in the 9′ to 11 foot range), a round and generous nose and tail, and above all a good width!
It’s a compromise between wave riding and cruising. Relatively short, between 9 and 11 feet, it is often rather wide, with a round nose and a comfortable tail. Ideal if you’re just starting out, for family use or for intermediate riders who want to do it all without getting carried away.
Longer than the all-around, between 11 and 12 feet with a more pointed nose, they often retain a little width. Their length allows them to cover greater distances and be more efficient when paddling, while retaining an accessible shape. They are no longer suitable for waves, as they are too long, but they are still great in the sea, even with a bit of chop. The wider models are ideal if you’re just starting out and don’t intend to surf with them. There are even models that can be used as doubles! These ranges are often available on rental websites, so don’t hesitate to consult our network of partners in the UK for more information; the adventure may be worth the diversions.
Long, often 12’6″ or more, they are also (very) slender, with a pointed nose. If their balance is precarious, they are speed machines, especially on flat spots and long distances. To be reserved for experienced riders.
Ce sont généralement les plus courts, moins de 10 pieds, avec un nez rond. Très maniables, ils ont des largeurs et des tails spécifique à chaque modèle pour des usages différents : un tail très pincé et fin pour un maximum d’agilité jusqu’au tail presque rectangulaire pour gagner en stabilité et puissance dans les vagues molles.
One discipline that is becoming increasingly popular is sup foiling. We’ve put together a guide specifically for stand-up paddle foiling.
|To practice exploration and Touring||50 to 60 Kg||70 to 80 Kg||+ 90 Kg|
|All Around||Length 30′ to 31′ - Width 10′ to 11'6||Length 31′ to 32′ - Width 10′ to 11'6 "||Length 32-36′ - Width 10'5 " to 11'6 "|
|Touring / long distance||Length 11'6 " to 12'6 " - Width 28′ to 30′||Length 12'6 " to 14′ - Width 29′ to 32′||Length 12'6 " to 14′ - Width 32′ to 34′|
|To go Surfing||50 to 60 Kg||70 to 80 Kg||+ 90 Kg|
|Beginner||Length 8'5 " to 9′ Width 30 " to 31″||Length 9′ to 10′ Width 31 "to 33″||Length 10′ to 11′ Width 32″ to 36″|
|Intermediate level||Same size - Minimum volume = your weight + 35 to 40 L||Same size - Minimum volume = your weight + 35 to 40 L||Same size - Minimum volume = your weight + 35 to 40 L|
|Expert level||Width 25″ to 28″ Volume = your weight to your weight + 30 L||Width 26″ to 29″ Volume = your weight to your weight + 30 L||Width 28″ to 32″ Volume = your weight to your weight + 30 L|
Safety first and foremost! The leash is essential, as it is in most water sports. It attaches to the back of the tail, on the deck and is worn around the ankle. We recommend the leash coiled – or telephone, which is the most common because it’s more comfortable.
It’s your engine, and it’s essential that this equipment is good. There’s no point riding in a magnificent car if you have to push it by hand because of a bad motor! So it’s best to pay the price and enjoy the best of the sport. Although they were originally made of wood a very long time ago, these days they are either aluminium or composite (fibreglass and carbon). Aluminium requires a lot of maintenance, and although it’s very shock-resistant, it’s heavy and can’t be repaired if you bend the handle. This material is reserved for schools or the very first prices. We recommend either a mix of fibreglass and carbon, which can be good value for money, or 100% carbon if you use it regularly. You should also look out for paddles that can be dismantled: the more parts they have, the less rigid they are. If you’re planning to try your hand at waves, downwinds or a bit of distance, go for a one-piece shaft, possibly with an adjustable shaft, but avoid three-piece shafts.
The advantages of a hard board in terms of feel, longevity and performance are absolutely indisputable and very quickly outweigh the few disadvantages. If you want to do something else with your equipment, use it for a very limited time during the season and focus on quality (because the price of inflatables often reaches that of hardboards as soon as you need a minimum of performance, so it’s sometimes better to wait for the right promotion…), inflatables may not be the solution, even if it’s common to read the opposite.