Is Stand Up Paddling Easy To Learn?
YES, you can learn the basics in 1 1/2 hours. If you have previous paddling experience (canoe, kayak, outrigger) you will learn very quickly. The key to learning how to paddle board is to learn how to properly hold the paddle, how to perform an efficient paddle stroke, and how to maintain balance on the board while standing up (harder than it looks if you have no on water balance experience). Our Stand Up Paddle Clinic covers all of these topics and more. Taking the clinic is a great way to learn good paddle stroke form, proper balance, and good body mechanics (to protect your back). We also help with various types of paddle strokes, turning, and help you to not fall in as much! Beginners tend to pick up bad habits if they learn on their own, so come get into a class for an accelerated learning curve. A great way to work on your balance at home and build up your quad muscles is with an Indo Balance Board. We have those at our fully stocked retail shop.
Do I have to be in good shape to learn SUP?
NO, people of all shapes and size can learn. We can give you advice on how to train for improved balance and core strength, which ultimately will help improve your paddle efficiency. If you build up your paddle skills progressively, your body will get into shape by just coming out to paddle. The muscles used to paddle include your quads, your core, back and arms. It is a “whole body” work out and great way to cross train for your other favorite sports (including couch surfing!). Stand Up Paddling on flat water is very easy to learn and can be enjoyed by enthusiasts young and old.
Do I need to know how to surf?
NO. You do not need to know how to surf to try Stand Up Paddling. If you want to Stand Up Paddle in the waves, it is a big help if you already know how to surf. Learning how to surf can be done on a stand up paddle board. In our Stand Up Paddle Clinic we can show you the basics of a surf turn, a surf stance, and steering to help you navigate your first wave. If you do venture into the waves, be sure to pick a beginner friendly spot and stay clear of the main surf zone. Stand Up Paddle boards are big compared to small surf boards, so proper etiquette and safety are extremely important to keep you and surrounding water users out of harm’s way.
Is SUP as much fun as it looks?
YES, it’s a total blast in both flat water and waves. Once you get into the “cadence” of a smooth consistent paddle stroke, it becomes very zen like to glide along the flat water, effortlessly. The vantage point of standing up makes for great nature viewing (versus being seated in a kayak), and if you grab a bunch of your friends to join you, it is very social (we like to call it golf on the water!). You can be a gentle cruiser or a world class speed demon. You can paddle on glassy flat water, or venture into head high waves. The planet is mostly covered with water, why not tour it by stand up paddle board?
Once I get hooked on the basics, what are my different options for enjoying Stand Up Paddling?
Stand Up Paddling has many disciplines and as it is a fast growing new sport, the possibilities keep getting bigger! It started out as a way for the super fit big wave surfers to cross train in Hawaii when there were no waves. They grabbed a paddle and started to realize the amazing cross training utility of SUP. Now that the sport has expanded out to the masses, people are enjoying SUP on flat water, on “down winders” (paddling down wind for miles while riding the swell created by the wind), recreational racing, professional racing, wave riding, group touring, and cross training / cross fit such as SUP Yoga. Come try out the sport and rent boards from us to see where your passion may lie. You may decide to be a comfort cruiser, a world class racer, or a cross training Yoga paddler!
Is SUP safe?
YES, with site and condition awareness. We teach you basic safety in our Stand Up Paddle Clinic.
Stand Up Paddle Safety Tips:
- Always stay with our board (it’s your flotation device). If you are a protected flat water area, wear a coast guard approved PFD and a surf leash. A surf leash is required in a surf zone, and it’s a good idea in general so you don’t get separated from your board.
- Always use the buddy system. Make sure someone knows where you are and when you will be home. It helps to have the local Coast Guard dispatch telephone number handy. You can give this to your friend, partner, spouse, roommate, or whomever – and it could save your life! That is who will come looking for you so know how to contact them and how to identify your location. The San Francisco main Coast Guard dispatch number is 415-556-2103.
- Carry a strobe light and a cell phone. We sell water proof carry bags to affix to your SUP where you can keep basic safety gear including a whistle, strobe light (so coast guard helicopter can see you on the water at night), and cell phone. If you are worried about your expensive iphone, buy a pay as you go phone for $10 at radio shack and make sure it’s charged and has the coast guard dispatch on speed dial.
- Dress appropriately for the conditions. If you are only going for a paddle in a protected flat water area on a warm day, most people get away with wearing a sport top and surf shorts. If you plan to paddle for hours and be out on open water, a full wetsuit is a safe way to protect yourself in case you fall in. Use your best judgement and when in doubt, over dress. You can always take off layers (wear your swim suit under your wetsuit) and better off warm than cold. Hypothermia is a big risk in the colder waters of Northern California so be prepared.
- Know wind and tides. If you are not in a protected windless area, be sure to know wind direction, speed, tide direction and speed, and the weather forecast. We offer private lessons offsite (at your favorite or desired spot) so be sure to become a knowledgeable paddle enthusiast so you can go with the flow (not against!).
- Use common sense. When in doubt, don’t go out. If you show up to your favorite spot, and it’s really windy and chilly, maybe save your paddle for another day. When your instincts tell you not to go out, usually it’s a good idea to listen. Being prepared for the conditions makes for sound paddling.
- Seek local knowledge. Ask the locals and do your research when venturing to new paddle spots. Web sites, local shops, and local paddlers are your best bet.
- Have fun! The more prepared you are for your expedition, the more fun you can have. Have the right gear, the right knowledge, and do it standing up!
Can I rent gear or do I have to buy?
We rent gear at both Alameda and San Mateo at waters edge. Our rate is $25 per hour (for board and paddle) and we have a discounted rental package available. At our San Francisco location, we rent gear at our “offsite rate” for pick up / drop off. You need a roof rack and previous experience with paddling to rent from the SF location. If you rent from our onsite beach locations in Alameda or San Mateo, beginners / first timers are welcome. If you get excited to be mobile and own your own board/paddle, we have FULL RETAIL and stock/carry many top brands. For a preview of stand up paddle boards, paddles, and accessories, fell free to visit our online store, click here.
What are the differences between different boards and paddles?
Stand Up Paddle boards come in different lengths, widths, and thickness. The size that is best for you is determined by your ability level, your weight, and your intended recreational purpose. If you want to cruise on flat water, you may wish to maximize speed and glide by picking a longer, narrower board. If you want to maximize stability and don’t have a lot of room for storage, you may wish to maximize width and go with a short wide board that is easy to store. If you intend to spend more time in the waves, you will want to go with a shorter board that turns a.k.a. has more “rocker” or curve on the bottom shape of the board. If you want to get into SUP recreational racing, you will want a long, narrow pointy nosed board that is optimized for speed. We stock many different top brands of flat water, race, surf, and all around paddle boards. We also stock paddles of different styles – including race, flat water, and wave. Paddles range depending on construction (carbon versus fiberglass) and come in both fixed length and adjustable. For more information and descriptions of boards and paddles, visit our online store, click here.
If I buy my own board, where can I paddle in and around the San Francisco Bay Area?
How much is it to buy gear?
A high quality board, deck pad, bag, and paddle runs between $1199 and $1999. We have FULL RETAIL and stock/carry many top brands of stand up paddle boards, paddles, and accessories. To visit our online store, click here.