Nobody likes looking like a newbie their first time out on the water – especially when lugging around an already unwieldy paddleboard. In Austin, you especially want to prepare a little before you head out for your first excursion. Austin is an ultra-popular place for paddleboarders and other water lovers, with gorgeous bodies of water just asking for paddle fans. That means you’ll probably have an audience. Not to worry – follow these tips to look like a natural while you stand and paddle.
Grab the Right Gear
If you already own your stand-up paddleboard (“SUP” to the pro paddleboarder), you’re halfway there! If not, there are many local spots that rent paddleboards. On Lady Bird Lake, for example, SUP ATX rents paddleboards for $15 per hour or $35 for the whole day on weekdays ($20/hour and $40 on weekends). You’ll also need other gear, including:
- Paddle. SUP paddles have an angle in the shaft for easier travel. Your paddle should be around six to eight inches taller than you are.
- Leash. The leash tethers you to your SUP to keep it from floating away should you fall off. Plus, your SUP acts as a floatation device – being attached to it can enhance your own safety.
- Personal flotation device. SUPs are technically water vessels according to the U.S. Coast Guard. That means you need to wear a lifejacket or other personal flotation device at all times. If paddling after sunset, you also need a whistle and a light.
You’ll need to know the basics of transporting your SUP to the body of water as well. If you have a roof rack on your vehicle, lay your SUP flat with the fins up. Attach the nose and tail of your SUP with lines to the front and rear of your vehicle. Drive with your SUP carefully – it can act like a sail and pull you in different directions.
Perfect Your Technique
Paddleboarding like a pro comes down to your technique. First, stand next to your board in shallow water. Position your paddle across the board to use as an outrigger. Hold your board by its rails, with one hand on the paddle grip. Climb onto the SUP in a kneeling position. You want to sit just behind the very center of the board.
Make sure you’re facing the right way – The fins of the board should be at the back. Get a feel for the balance of the board. Once you feel comfortable, move into a standing position one foot at a time. Hold your feet parallel, about hip-length apart. Point your toes forward and keep your knees slightly bent. Shift your weight using your hips.
Look forward, at the horizon, instead of at your feet. Paddle with your core, not your arms. Your core will give you more power and won’t be as tiring. If you need help, watch this tutorial video. Even pro SUPers fall – make sure you fall in the right way. Fall away from your board so the board doesn’t injure you. Now you’re ready to hit the water and SUP like a boss!
As I see so many fabulous wintery adventure scenes filling my feed, I'm reminded how lucky I am to have such awesome people in my life. I'll be heading to the Guadalupe Mtns next week, but in the meantime, I see your powder pics and give you warm winter paddleboarding in the city. #everydayadventures #lovethiscity #paddleboarding #austintexas #skyline #ninjastylekungfugrip
This is an editorial contribution from south Austin dentist Dr. Adam Gutwein at ATX Family Dental.
Featured photo from Pixabay, Creative Commons licensed