SUP Safety 2017-02-17T03:04:40+00:00

Stand-up paddleboarding is on the whole a pretty safe sport, as it is conducted at low speeds.  However, like any water sport, there is the potential for things to go wrong, especially here in New Zealand where the weather can often change rapidly. So, however experienced a water-person you may be, have a read and think about the following points. These are primarily about SUP cruising, rather than surfing. If you’re planning on taking your SUP board out into the waves, please check out the SURF SAFETY page.

Beginners and Inexperienced Paddleboarders: The one overriding factor to remember is that in your early days, the wind is not your friend.   It’s hard to paddle against the wind, so just don’t take any chances with it. And remember too, just because it’s called stand-up-paddleboarding doesn’t mean it’s compulsory to stand up. If you’re having trouble staying on because it’s getting rough, or you’re struggling to make headway against the wind, kneel down, hold the paddle with both hands low down the shaft, and you’ll find it far easier (and more stable) to make progress.
While you’re learning the basics stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. Restrict your paddling to flat shallow water, and light winds. Once you’ve mastered the basics, always follow these basic safety rules.
  • Always wear a legrope!! This is 99% of your safety preparation. If you are safely attached to a large floating platform (ie your SUP board) you are in the best position to cope with most things, and easy to find should things go wrong. Note that if you’re going onto a river or any other fast-flowing water your leash needs to be of the appropriate style, with a belt-positioned quick release, NOT worn around your ankle. Consult your local retailer or school for more advice on this.
  • Know the weather – Always check the forecast before heading out on the water; understand and think about what is likely to happen and how it could affect you.
  • Be especially careful about offshore winds – they get stronger the further out you go, and can make it difficult/impossible to get home

  • Check the tides – Do you know how the currents and tides will affect your location?

  • Don’t paddle alone – stay safe and paddle with a friend. If you must paddle alone, tell someone else your plans.

  • Don’t use the board in surf until you are confident. See the SURF SAFETY page for more on this.

PFDS AND THE LAW:  New Zealand Maritime Law says that you must carry a PFD on a small craft under 5m. While the reality is that the coastguards or harbourmasters may well turn a blind eye if you are close inshore and wearing a leash, and it does seem a bit irrelevant if you are tethered to a huge big floating thing anyway, it is still the law.  The only exemption for SUP is if you are actively involved in surfing, in which case you do not have to wear a PFD. At any other time, the law states that you do. Fortunately, the belt-pack pull-to-inflate style are acceptable under NZ law, and are actually no problem at all to wear. So if you are going any distance away from easy access to the shore, then we strongly recommend that you wear one. Likewise, carry your mobile phone, with plenty of charge. It could save your life!