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Some of us started their ocean adventure with sailing, some with surfing or windsurfing or even kitesurfing. We've all been there though - getting hands on your own equipment and trying to grasp the basics. Even after some lessons everyone likes to be reassured that whatever he's doing is right. This is a guide for those of you who have never stood on a board and are preparing themselves to get on the water.
SUP'ing is a great gateway into all sorts of water sports - including surfing and even kitesurfing to add some airtime to your day on the water. Here are the top 7 tips for the newcomers:
1. Use the leash! It can literally save your life and prevent others from being injured if you fall of your board in the surf. Even when the wind is light and current isn't too strong the board can drift away in matter of seconds. Chasing it might be hard even when you're fit and just got onto the water. Forget about it if you're tired. In the surf I normally have it attached to my calf (easier to release if you have to), on the flat days ankle works just as well.
2. Get used to falling off. It will happen often at the beginning and will keep on happening no matter how experienced you are. The important bit is to learn how to fall without hurting yourself. Keep your arms close to your body and don't try to grab the board - it will hurt! The board isn't going anywhere since you've got the leash, right? Also, when emerging from water make sure not to hit your SUP board with your head - cover it up with your hands.
3. Getting back on the board can be hard work, especially if you're tired. Try moving to the back of the board and work your way from there. Try it couple of times when you're getting onto water early in the day to find the best way for yourself.
4. Paddle with your core not your arms. Paddling on a SUP board with your arms will be super tiring. Your core is the strongest part of your body. Put it to good use and you'll see how much more power your body will generate. Check out the video below for some tips on how to do this properly:
5. Look ahead, don't stare at your board. Keeping your head up will greatly help with your stability. See the film below to learn how to properly stand on a SUP board:
6. When heading out for the first time choose a flat water day with little or no wind. If you live in a windy place make sure the wind is either on-shore or at least cross-on-shore. You'll be surprised how much harder is to paddle against it, especially when you're just getting hang of SUP'ing. Never head out in off-shore wind! Unless you want to see what's on the other side of your spot / sea / ocean.
7. Getting some lessons is generally a good idea. It will hugely boost your confidence and you will feel much safer on the water during and after the lessons. Feel free to get in touch if you want to get some SUP Lessons in Scotland or in the rest of the UK.
Above everything - have fun and stay safe. When the weather isn't exactly right go for a session at the gym or a bike ride. As the surfer's say - "Live to surf another day!" Oh, and a bit of inspiration from O'Neill!