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Getting started with Paddleboarding

How to Get Up and Get Started on a Stand up Paddle Board

Getting out on a paddle board can be a unique and amusing activity. There is a lot more to the sport than just paddling around in the sunshine on vacation and it is becoming a big activity in the outdoor world year round in BC. Before getting into the different types of paddle boarding and more technical topics it is important to know how to get up on a stand up paddle board. This article is for people who do not have much experience with paddle boarding but have an interest. These techniques are for people who will be paddling in calm, sheltered water in favourable weather conditions.

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First thing is first, you will need a few things to get out there safely.

You will have to have a personal flotation device (PFD). You can choose a few different options when it comes to a PFD for paddle boarding according to Transport Canada. You can have an inflatable PFD, which must be worn at all times. Alternately, you can wear a regular vest style PFD. A PDF is not mandatory if you are using the paddleboard for recreational purposes within the shoreline such as surfing. If you are using the board for “Navigation” a PFD is required.  You are also required to have a louder than voice sound signalling device – a whistle being the most common option.

Although Transport Canada does not enforce the use of a leash that attaches you to your board it is something we highly recommend using. It can keep your board from getting damaged and it can stop you from being left stranded in the water if it has drifted too far away or into an unsafe are.

If paddling at night you are also required to have a waterproof 360-degree light.

So now that you have the necessary equipment it is time to get up on the board.

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The brace: getting on board

To get onto your board first consider where you are getting on from as this will make the technique different. Make sure the water is deep enough that the fin of your board will not hit the bottom causing you to tip you or causing  damage to the board.

Getting on from a dock

If getting on from a dock first place your paddle on the dock within easy reach from the board. Kneel beside the board on the dock and use one hand on the board and one hand on the dock to stabilize yourself as you place one knee on the board to the outer side of the carrying handle. When you feel stable move your other knee to the board on the other side of the carrying handle. With one hand still on the dock grab your paddle and push off from the dock. Stay on your knees as you paddle away from the dock and any other objects that could harm you if you fell. When safely away from the dock you can stand, don’t worry we will get to that. If you are planning on getting in from a dock you can skip to How To Stand Up.

Getting on from shore

If getting on your board from shore you will have to wade in far enough so that the fin on your board clears the ground and will not hit the bottom. Keep in mind these tips are for getting onto a paddle board in calm water. If you are more advanced and are getting into rough water the technique will be different. You should be standing between your board and the shore. With your paddle perpendicular across your board brace your hands over the paddle and place your first knee on the board to one side of the carrying handle. When you feel steady lift your other knee to the opposite side of the carrying handle. Remember not to stand up until you are clear of all potential falling hazards and deep enough that should you fall you would not harm yourself in shallow water.

How To Stand Up

Standing can be tricky until you get the hang of it so don’t feel too bad if you start out wobbly like Bambi on ice – we have all been there.

With your knees shoulder width apart and your paddle perpendicular across your board you should feel very steady. Look forward to the horizon and bring one knee into your chest so you are halfway into a squatting position, foot flat on the board. Bring your other knee up and place your foot flat on the board keeping that shoulder width distance between your feet. You should be in a low squat position now staring forward at the horizon.

Engaging your core muscles slowly come up as you would from a squat, keeping your knees bent and your arms slightly in front holding the paddle parallel with the water surface for balance.

Once up you will need to start paddling relatively quickly as the motion of paddling can help you keep you balance, just like on a bike. Keep your knees and shoulders relaxed and your core muscles engaged for stability.

Wait, we need to tell you how to paddle!

The Basic Forward Stroke

When you paddle from a kneeling position you will hold the paddle half way down the shaft so as to compensate for your shorter stance and closer distance to the water. Once standing your pushing hand will be placed at the top of your paddle and your pulling hand will be a shoulder width distance down the paddle. If you are paddling on the left side of your board the top hand, or the hand that will be pushing, will be the right hand.

The blade of your paddle will have a curve or angle in it. This curve forms a kind of cup and is referred to as the “power face” of the blade. This is the side that will cup the water and pull through to create your momentum. For a forward stroke bring your paddle blade out in front of you over to whichever side of the board you are going to paddle on. As you dip the paddle into the water push forward with this top hand as you pull back with the lower hand rotating with your shoulders and core for the most strength in the stroke.

That’s it, you are up and moving! To learn more strokes and techniques follow us on social media as we post more video and information, or check out some of our courses to take a class with an instructor! Check out the video bellow to get a tutorial on everything you have just read, sometimes seeing it makes it so much easier to understand.

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About Ocean River

Located in Victoria, British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island, Ocean River is one of the premier speciality kayak and adventure companies in North America. Brian Henry, the founder & current owner, has been running Ocean River since 1981, and Ocean River continues to be recognised as one of the most significant outdoor/paddlesports instructional & tours provider in North America.

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