Launching a paddle board might look easy, but unless you do it properly you’ll either fall straight off or stand in the water while your board floats away from you.
Once you have mastered the technique, you’ll be able to launch your board anywhere to enjoy your paddle boarding wherever you want. If you have decided to enjoy some time with your SUP, there are a lot of things to check before you head off.
Prepare for launch
Paddle boarding relies on the right weather conditions. Before you leave home, check the forecast for where you will be going. You don’t want to arrive to find conditions have changed and you can’t enjoy your day.
If you are planning a trip to the ocean, check the tide and currents. There are maps and charts to show you these, and you can even download a phone app which will give you up to the minute information.
While you do not need a lot of equipment for paddle boarding, check you have everything before you set off. You won’t leave without your board and paddle but don’t forget to check if you need to take:
- Carry handles or bag
- Paddle holders
- Waterproof bag
- Additional fins
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Clothing – wet suit or swimwear
- Life vest and whistle
These are just some of the things you may need. If you’re going fishing, then you obviously need to check you have all your fishing gear too.
Once you reach the water, you’ll be keen to get going but before you get started, there are some things you should do before you launch.
Dos and don’ts before you launch
- Do find a place to launch your board where you are not in anyone else’s way. Allow plenty of room around you so that you do not interfere with anyone else’s enjoyment of the water and where they won’t get in your way while you launch.
- Don’t rush to launch your board. Balancing to stand up not only takes practice, but can also be affected by stronger waves or winds.
- Do make sure you have everything you need on your board before you launch it. You don’t want to be on your way and find you’ve left something sitting by the side of the water.
- Don’t let go of your paddle or it might float away. It can be hard trying to concentrate on so many things at first, and it’s very easy to let your paddle float off. Paddle holders are a great way to stop this from happening.
- Do make sure everything is properly secured before you set off. This can mostly be done before you put the board in the water, but it’s always worth double checking.
Now you’re prepared and ready to launch.
How to launch a paddle board
When you first start, launching might seem tricky, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Here are a few tips to help you launch your SUP properly every time.
First find a good spot for your paddle boarding. If you’re surfing, then obviously you need a beach. If it’s a river or lake, you need a quiet spot to walk in. Be wary when you walk in to a river or lake in case it drops away suddenly. Ideally you need a flat, calm area, with enough space for you to launch your board with no interference from other water users. Remember to attach your leash if you are using one. Point your board in the direction you want to go.
Walk out until you are knee deep in the water. This is usually deep enough, but you need to be far enough out that the fin on your board won’t scrape the bottom when you are standing on it. For most boards you need to allow approximately 12 inches clearance.
Hold the SUP to one side with it facing in the direction in which you want to go, and place your paddle along it. It doesn’t matter which way your paddle is facing, but many paddlers find it easier if the blade is facing the front of the board.
Place the grip of the paddle on the edge of the board, or the rail, with the blade resting on the water. Ideally you want your paddle on the opposite side of the board to the one you are standing on.
Keep one hand on your paddle to make sure it doesn’t fall off, and grip the rails of the board.
Place one knee on the board, keeping it stable with your hands on the rails. Then raise the other knee so that you are kneeling on the board. Hopefully you will be facing in the direction you want to travel. You need to aim for the center of the board so slowly move your weight until you are properly balanced.
When the board is stable, you can try to stand. While you are still learning, do this slowly until you get the hang of it.
Place your hands on the rails again to help stabilize the board. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, so move one foot in to position, and then the other. Keep your hands on the rails while you do this to help you keep your balance.
There are two ways to stand up from here, and neither is right or wrong – it’s just what feels best for you.
If you are confident enough you can pick up your paddle and stand straight up.
If you don’t yet have the confidence, or simply feel easier, stick your behind in the air. This is a halfway position, but you still be using your hands to stabilize yourself. While in this position you can make any alterations to your stance that you need to.
When you are centered on the board, slowly stand up and pick up your paddle.
Now your SUP is on its way – happy paddling!
If you feel like you need a bit more help.. here’s some tips from Mike T on launching your paddle board!