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Paddle Boarding In Cornwall – Top 10 Tips For Beginners

Stand-up paddle boarding, or ‘SUPing’, is one of the fastest-growing watersports in the UK. A relevantly easy-going water sport that’s enjoyable for individuals of any and all levels of ability, SUPing is a great way of exploring new places and seeing them from a different point of view. Paddle boarding in Cornwall, for instance, allows you to enjoy a wide variety of views and vistas; from peaceful seaside towns to scenes of true natural beauty. What’s more, it’s a great way to see the Cornish coast whilst having fun and getting fit. 

If you’re thinking about giving paddle boarding a go, here are some useful tips for both beginners & more experienced paddle boarders to improve your SUP experience:

1: WEAR A LIFE JACKET OR PFD – Choose a lifejacket or personal flotation device that allows you to move comfortably. Life jackets and PFDs will allow you to stay afloat but also will make it easier to recover and remount the board should you fall in. 

2: CHECK THE WEATHER– Conditions can change quickly when you are out on the water before you set off always check the weather forecast and tide times. Try to avoid getting caught in offshore winds these can pull you out to sea, which can be very tiring to paddle back from. This is because your body is typically used as a sail, and wherever the wind is blowing, your body is going to be used to move the board. So, if you find yourself caught in the wind, be sure to lay down with your body flat on the board, until the weather settles.

3: TAKE A BUDDY- Try to go paddleboarding with at least one friend, this can help if you get into any difficulty. If you don’t have a buddy don’t worry! Just be sure to choose a beach with lifeguards and let someone know what time you are expected to be back. 

4: USE A SUP LEASH– As per most water sports it is important to ensure you are tethered to your board. Your board can become a life-saving device when you are lost or tired. In addition, this will also save you a lot of time when you fall off swimming after your board. There are many different leashes on the market from coiled to straight with alternative ankle attachment points. 

  • Coiled Leash: A coiled leash keeps out of the water and minimises drag more commonly used in racing. A coiled leash is also great for general flat water paddling as it stops a lot of tangles around your feet and other items such as seaweed or reeds. 
  • Straight Leash: A straight leash is used in the surf where you want the board away from you. A straight leash is best at least as long as the board so that you are safe as you get pounded by waves. 

5: CARRY A PHONE – Try to carry one phone per group in a waterproof pouch whilst paddle boarding. This will give you the means to contact emergency services and let you take some great photos (if you are feeling brave enough). A lot of mobile phone pouches out there will say they are waterproof but are not actually watertight, so be sure to comb through their reviews to make sure you’re getting the best possible pouch. If possible, chose one with foam-lined padding to protect your valuables from getting damaged should it be accidentally dropped. These pouches mean you can travel further and ease the worry of leaving valuables on the beach. 

6: ENSURE CORRECT PADDLE USE- Holding your paddle incorrectly can cause unwanted splashing resulting in a loss of balance on the board. There are 4 easy points to follow to gain the correct paddle grip technique. 

  • Stand up straight and grip the non-blade end of the paddle.
  • Hold the paddle horizontally over your head with both hands, then rest the shaft on the top of your head.
  • Make sure that the shaft is parallel to your shoulders and that the arm that’s holding the grip creates a perfect 90-degree angle.
  • Move the other hand (the one that’s not holding the grip) along the shaft until you create a perfect 90-degree angle with that arm as well.

7: DRINK WATER– Paddle boarding is a form of exercise that uses a lot of core strength and you will become dehydrated, especially on long outings. It’s important to stay hydrated while out on the water, so make sure you take a water bottle with you (particularly in the Summer, when the temperature in Cornwall exceed 25C). It’s important to get the most from your water bottle, which is why you should opt for one that is rustproof and well-insulated to keep your water cool and uncontaminated. If possible, make sure your bottle can support a carabiner clip so that there is less chance of it getting dropped and lost.  

8: DIRECTION – When you first purchase your board it is going to be difficult for you to be able to immediately know where the front (nose) of the board is as they can all look very different. Take the time to find where the fins, nose and deckpad are on the board. RED Paddle Co have supplied a helpful guide to understand each component of the board. A nose rocker reflects how angled the nose is and can make a big difference paddling through rougher water a lower rocker will submerge underwater when it hits a wave. Always take into consideration when purchasing a board or before you take on surfing water.

10: KEEP YOUR HEAD UP– As a beginner, it can be very difficult to not look down at the board. Standing up straight looking out in front of you is very important for balance equally for direction. Try to ensure that you maintain the correct body position: Back straight, legs slightly bent, shoulders back, head up and shift your weight into the balls of your feet. 

9: FALLING OFF YOUR BOARD – Finally learning how to fall off the board properly is essential as it will happen a lot, this will help reduce injury. The board is large and can harm you when falling directly onto it. When you feel yourself falling off the board try to focus your body away from the board and into the water. Importantly, be aware of your surroundings when falling ensure the water below you is free so you don’t injury your fellow SUPers.

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