Understanding sea paddle boarding and weather conditions

Sea Paddle Boarding Instructor

SUP environments differ greatly from enclose flat lakes, narrow canals to the endless open ocean which exposes paddlers to a range of conditions.

To safely paddle in all sea conditions its important to understand wind conditions, tidal flow, safety equipment and competency. Here are some of the most important things connected to Sea Paddle Boarding.

Sea Paddle boarding Conditions

The safest sea conditions for a novice paddler are an incoming tide, little wimd (below 12mph) and an inshore wind. Conditions change quickly therefore studying wind forecasts is an important prior to launching. Paddling in an offshorewind means the paddler will move very quickly out to sea however a good technique and fitness is required to paddle in a headwind. Sea mist can come in easily making visibility very hard and can cause disorientation. Paddling close to the cliff line and always in sight of land means paddlers always have a line of sight.

Sea Launching

In the UK the tides go in and out twice a day. The ideal launch spot would be a flat, accessible sandy beach. Remember, the tide may be in when you launch and a short walk with the board, however if you launch on an outgoing tide, there’s a long walk up the beach on your return- in a lot of locations.

Paddle boarding Competency

Paddling on flat water that doesn’t not move (lake, canal) feels very different to paddling on moving water. To be safe on the sea, the paddler needs to feel competent they can handle moving water, adulation, paddle into a headwind, and turn the board effectively. Tackling headwind is easier when the paddler moves slightly forward on the board, lowering the nose and upping the paddle stroke slightly.

Self-Rescue

Self-Rescue is critical to being safe on the water - can you get back on the board on your own? The most common mistake paddlers make is they wrap their legs under the board. The most energy efficient way is to lie with your feet away from the board, one hand on the middle handle, pull yourself up, the other hand across onto the far rail, and kick /pull your legs up and onto the board. If a paddler feels they cant self-rescue, they should not paddle alone, or paddle out of their depth.

SUP Sea Paddle Boarding
Sea Paddle Boarding Practice

Paddle boarding Safety Equipment

There is far more to SuP than the board, leash and fin. There are key items every paddler should be kitted up with prior to sea paddling.

  • Buoyancy Aid (that fits and is a minimum of 50N
  • Leash with a Quick Release Belt
  • Means of Communication & Waterproof Case
  • Appropriate clothing (wet / dry suit)
  • Tow Rope
  • Dry Bag

Paddlers who are more advanced and touring should also have:

  • Knife, Flare, First Aid Kit, Spare Paddle#

The majority of board manufacturers sell SuPs with just and ankle leash. The safest way to paddle in a ny condition is with a Quick Release Belt which easy to locate and detach in an emergency.

Sea Marine Life

Paddlers dream is often to see the odd dolphin or seal. However marine wildlife can be unpredictable and should always be respected from a safe distance.

Summary

If you are keen to paddle on the sea the safest way is to paddle with someone who is competent, have a lesson with a coastal paddle school, educate yourself on the tide and wind conditions of the location, ensure you are equipped and you communicate your plans to someone on land.


Further Reading - Met Office, XC Weather, Tide Planner, Windy App, Stand Up Paddle Boarding – A Beginners Guide, Association of Surf Instructors, Canoe Wales.


Catherine Beresford, SuPSkiFit, Bluefin Ambassador, ASI Accredited Paddle School

Ellie Cox

Passionate collaborator who thrives on connecting with ambassadors and fostering vibrant communities. With a dedication to building meaningful relationships and empowering voices.

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