Paddle boarding is fun and challenging a water sport, but only with the proper training and equipment. To properly participate in paddle boarding, the athlete must be equipped with gear to protect them from potential dangers such as weather, surf and human error. In order to reduce the risk of injury, the athlete should gear up with the appropriate clothing, supplies and equipment.
Wearing the proper apparel is not the only concern when it comes to paddle boarding. Choosing the proper board would be the first consideration, as there are different types of boards. The athlete must also consider safety equipment, emergency supplies as well as other gear that could prove to be crucial depending on the elements.
The most important piece of equipment is the paddle board. Paddle boards are available in different sizes and choosing the right one according to body size and purpose is important. When choosing a paddle board, the variables to consider are the shape of the board, the board's capacity and the length, width and thickness. Paddle boards can be constructed of different materials. The solid boards can be made of foam and fiberglass, plastic, carbon fiber or wood. The foam and fiberglass boards are affordable and perform well while being lightweight. The plastic boards are very affordable however they are heavy and bulky in the water. The carbon fiber boards are very lightweight and durable but quite expensive. Wooden paddle boards can handle the water beautifully and are very pleasing to the eye; however, they are quite costly.
Paddle boards are available in different frame (hull) types, planing and displacement. The planing hull is wide and flat, very similar to a surfboard, and is very versatile. The planing hull can be used for leisure paddling, yoga, whitewater and surfing. The planing hull paddle board is available in a wide variety of sizes and volumes, which makes it suitable for beginners as well as advanced paddle boarders. The displacement hull is designed with a pointed front end (nose), much like a canoe, which helps displace water. The design flattens out quickly from the nose, making it ideal for faster speeds and longer distances. The athlete may choose a displacement hull paddle board for fitness paddling, touring long distances and racing.
The fin(s) is attached to the bottom rear of the board and is there to keep the board stable and track properly. Fins come in different sizes with the larger ones for safety and stability and the smaller ones for maneuverability. The fins are removable so the athlete can swap them out depending on their preference. It is common for a paddler to utilize a single, twin or two-plus-one fin setup. The single fin setup is preferred for speed and maintaining a straight line. It is the most used setup when paddling in calm waters. The twin and two-plus-one setup is normally applied for surf or rougher waters. These setups are more for maneuvers and agility.
The paddle is necessary because it is used to propel the board forward .The paddle used in paddle boarding looks similar to a canoe paddle except it is much longer and the blade at the end is angled forward. The correct length paddle should be about ten inches longer than the user's height. Paddles can be made with wood, carbon fiber, aluminum, plastic or fiberglass. In general, the lighter weighted paddles are preferred and also more expensive. The paddle blade sizes also differ with the larger person needing a larger blade.
The paddleboard leash is important because it keeps the paddler with their board if they were to fall. If the athlete wasn't attached, falling off the board could prove to be very dangerous and quite possibly fatal. The paddle board leash can be straight or coiled. The straight leash is recommended for the surf because it won't spring back causing the board to hit you like a coiled leash might. The coiled leash is ideal for calmer water because it has less drag to keep it from getting caught on other paddler's paddles or rocks and seaweed.
First and foremost, the paddler should have a personal floatation device (PFD), or life vest. While it is not mandatory to wear a PFD in defined surfing or swimming areas, it is highly recommended to always have one on while paddle boarding. Any person 12 years of age or younger must have a PFD while paddle boarding. When choosing a PFD, it is crucial to choose one that not only fits properly but allows the paddler the ability to move freely.
The athlete should also be equipped with a safety whistle and a waterproof flashlight. It is very important to be able to call for help if an emergency arises and a safety whistle can be invaluable in these instances. The safety whistle can also be helpful as a way to alert nearby boats of your presence. When the paddle boarder finds themself in the water after sundown, a flashlight is absolutely necessary. A powerful and waterproof flashlight will enable the paddler to alert others in the water as well as navigate in the dark.
Another possibly necessary safety precaution is sun protection. If a boarder finds themself on the water in extreme heat and sun, they must be prepared. The water is a very strong reflector of the sun's rays, so possible dehydration and painful sunburn need to be addressed. In these instances waterproof sunscreen, a UPF 50+ rated hat and a bottle of water can become the athlete's best friends. The athlete must make sure to keep applying the sunscreen and keep their hat in extreme sun.
The athlete must know the weather conditions before heading out on the water in their everyday clothes. Being a year round sport, it is not advised to wear the same type of clothing every time paddle boarding. There are certain types of clothing available to protect the athlete from heat and sun and others to protect from cold.
The majority of paddle boarders wear board shorts or a swimsuit in warm, sunny conditions. This is perfectly fine as long as attention is paid to other areas of the body. While laying on the board before standing it is important to avoid getting a rash on the midsection. It is advised to wear a rashguard or other protective shirt not only to protect from rashes but also to keep the harmful sun rays away from the exposed skin. The clothing worn should be quick-drying and fit properly to allow full range of movement.
The athlete needs to be prepared with clothes that keep the body warm in cold weather, as well as cold water. Just because the weather may be warm does not mean the water is not cold. When the water temperature is below 70 degrees, the athlete needs to think about a wetsuit. Wetsuits are made in different thickness measured in mm. The colder the water, the thicker the wetsuit. If it is cold the athlete may want to use paddle gloves and shoes to keep their hands and feet warm. Not only with this gear help to keep the paddler comfortable, but it also is vital to keep hypothermia away.