Practicing Safe SUP
ALWAYS PRACTICE SAFE SUP
At Vermont Ski and Sport, we all love Stand Up Paddle Boarding. As an avid stand up paddle boarder and teacher, a topic of great interest is safety on the water.
SUPs ARE CLASSIFIED AS VESSELS BY THE COAST GUARD
The United States Coast Guard classifies stand up paddle boards as vessels, and requires pfds to be in the paddlers possession at all times. We prefer to wear ours, so we go with fanny pack style life preservers, such as the MTI Fluid 2.0 (pictured below on Jonathan). Having a pfd that is accessible is very important because if you fall into the water, currents can quickly carry your board away from you. A sup leash is crucial to mitigating these unfortunate circumstances.
Understand the lay of the "land" where you are paddling. Plan your path and be aware of obstacles and obstructions such as other water crafts, rocks, buoys, and moorings (dangerous rocks can be submerged just enough that you can not see them, but can still damage your skeg). Be sure to check the forecast and be mindful of storms and weather patterns. Understand current wind conditions, and know when not to go out. Conditions such as offshore winds can be especially dangerous, as they quickly carry you away from the shore. Always be aware of local boating regulations and right of way.
HAVE A PLAN AND USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
Have a trip plan. Let a friend or family member know when you leave, where you're going, and when you will be back. Always have a plan for the off chance you do not return when expected.
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
The sun and salt water can quickly dry you out and create a dehydration disaster. For longer paddles, be sure to carry hydration and nourishment.
HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY
Consider a water proof phone case, radio, or flares so you have the ability to alert help. The added bonus of a waterproof phone case allows for awesome instagram shots out on the water.
LEARN FROM THE BEST, PADDLE SAFER THAN THE REST
Consider taking introductory lessons to learn proper technique. This will enable you to handle a multitude of different situations while improving your technique. Private lessons range in content from basic paddle technique up to technical racing and freeride.
STAY CLEAN, STAY SAFE
Last but not least, drugs and alcohol have no place on the water. Stay clear headed to ensure the best decision making in times of panic.
Thanks for reading our article. In order to promote #safesup, please use the discount code "SafeSup" during checkout to get 10% off all safety equipment (pfds and leashes).
ADDED COAST GUARD SUGGESTION
Our good friends, the Unite States Coast Guard recently started an initiative called Operation Paddle Smart. It is suggested to attach an "if found" sticker to your boards that contains your name and contact info, in case you become separated from your boat.
For more info on Operation Paddle Smart and to obtain an "if found" sticker, contact your local Coast Guard Auxillary flotilla or Coast Guard Station. To find the flotilla nearest you, just follow the link below.
Photos by Elyn Bischof and Eddie Devereaux