Stand up paddle boarding is an unconventional aquatic sport in that you do not have to physically submerge yourself in the water at the start. This causes many casual onlookers to question whether stand up paddle boarders ever get wet.
There is a strong likelihood that you will get wet while stand up paddle boarding (SUP), especially if you are a beginner. Many novice stand up paddle boarders fall in and get wet during the initial stages because they do not yet know how to properly balance themselves on the paddle board.
Although it is likely that you will get wet during your stand up paddle boarding experience, there are some caveats to this trend that will be addressed later in the article. Read further to receive some helpful tips on how to make the most of your stand up paddle boarding experience, even if you are a bit wet by the end of it.
How You Get Wet Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Now that you know that you are most likely going to get wet during your stand up paddle boarding venture, you are probably asking yourself how?
Falling Off of Your Paddle Board
The number one way that paddle boarders soak themselves is by taking a tumble off of the board.
This aquatic activity definitely calls for a certain level of balance if you want to stay entirely dry. Although there is definitely a learning curve to attaining this prerequisite level of balance, most first time paddle boarders only fall into the water a couple times before getting the hang of it.
You will only get a tad wet if you are practicing in a shallow wake. When you do fall into deep water, you get completely drenched. There is no sugarcoating it. So if you want to stay dry, try not to fall in!
Waves Brushing Against Your Lower Extremities
Even if you do somehow manage to avoid falling off of your paddle board, your lower extremities will get wet at the very least.
It is necessary to wade a bit into the water to bring the paddle board away from the shallows and establish yourself on top of it. This means physically walking into the water and soaking your ankles and feet.
In addition, most paddle boarders kneel on the paddle board prior to transitioning to the standing position. The transition from the kneeling position to the standing position is one of the more challenging aspects of stand up paddle boarding. For this reason, this part can be a bit shaky for individuals, especially novices.
The excess rocking of the paddle board during this movement can cause waves to splash up and spatter your legs. This splash effect is magnified if the waves are a bit on the choppier side.
Even after reaching the standing position, there is no guarantee that you will stay completely bone dry. It only really takes one rogue wave to come in and completely douse your legs.
Reasons Why You Get Wet Stand Up Paddle Boarding
The overarching reason that you get wet while stand up paddle boarding is that it is a water sport! With water sports, it is almost mandatory that you get a little bit wet.
I also touched on this earlier, but the main reason why many people take a spill into the water is because of lack of proper balance. First timers have to get a feel for where to properly place their feet and distribute their weight on the paddle board in order to maximize their balance. Every individual has a different body structure. For this reason, the only tried and true method to figure out how to properly balance oneself on a paddle board is trial and error.
This transition period for beginners is typically where they take a few involuntary plunges into the water. Every time one of these involuntary plunges occur, however, a first timer adds a little bit more knowledge about the proper position to keep balance.
The bottom line is that one of the more prominent reasons people get wet in stand up paddle boarding is a loss of balance. Improved balance only comes when you are willing to experiment and try out what works best for you, even if it means falling into the water.
Is It Possible to Stay Dry While Stand Up Paddle Boarding?
If you do everything right in stand up paddle boarding, there is the possibility that you can stay relatively dry from start to finish.
This is usually the case for stand up paddle boarding veterans. The years of experience that they have built up combined with their mastery over the fundamentals is usually enough to keep them from falling overboard. Nonetheless, even these savvy veterans make a mistake once in a while and get drenched.
If you are a beginner, I would not get my hopes up. Becoming proficient at the balance demanded of this aquatic sport takes time and practice. There will almost certainly be some failures along the way to progress to the more advanced skill tier.
In summary, there are numerous opportunities for you to get wet during stand up paddle boarding. A lot of things have to go right for you stay to stay dry, whether you are a professional or a first timer.
Helpful Tips to Avoid Getting Wet
If you are still insistent on taking on the challenge of staying dry, or you just want to learn some helpful tips, I formulated a list of some valuable pointers to keep in mind.
Get the Appropriate Sized Board for Your Height and Weight
The size of the paddle board plays an essential role in how balanced you will be while paddling. You should take care to find the correct board length and width to cater to your individual height and weight.
This should be used as a general rule of thumb to determine what board width will accommodate your level of experience. Smaller boards are trickier to grasp and are typically reserved for intermediate to advanced level paddle boarders.
If you know for a fact that you do not have the best balance in the world, ask for a wider board. If you feel like you are ready to take on the challenge of putting your balance to the test, go for a narrower board.
Keep Your Center of Gravity Toward the Middle of the Board
Another helpful tip is to stay centered on the paddle board, regardless of whether you are kneeling or standing.
Paddle boarders must kneel at first to venture further out into the open water. It is important to center yourself on the paddle board immediately to prevent the nose or the tail from sinking into the water. A telltale sign that you need a bulkier paddle board is if you have a strenuous time staying dry while kneeling, even though you are perfectly centered on the board.
Proper foot placement on the middle of the paddle board is key to maintaining your balance. The nose of the board will sag into the water if your feet creep too far forward. On the other hand, the tail of the board will plummet under the waves if your feet are positioned too far backward.
To adjust your feet, it is useful to use small hop steps to recenter yourself. Lifting up one foot at a time jolts the board because of the abrupt change in weight distribution. Small, calculated jumps forward or backward will uphold the weight distribution at an even keel and limit the board from swaying back and forth.
Finding out exactly where you should establish your feet is a bit of an art. Once you nail it down, however, you will be well on your way to a dry stand up paddle boarding trip.
Use the Paddle as a Tool for Stability
One little known fact is that that the paddle is a worthwhile instrument to keep from capsizing.
As soon as the board starts to rock uncontrollably, newcomers have a tendency to flail the paddle around in an attempt to regain their balance. Not only does this put nearby paddle boarders at risk for injury, it also affects your balance more than anything else.
It is far more effective to stick your paddle in the water as soon as you feel like you are losing your board stability. This way, the paddle will act as a counterbalance that you can rely on to minimize the rocking effect from the waves. The farther you keep the paddle out to the side, the better equipped you will be to recover your balance.
Should You Even Worry About Getting Wet?
Honestly, there is no medal of merit that exists for staying dry during your first stand up paddle boarding outing. Most people that fall in and drench themselves have a better time anyways. So you should not be bashful if you take an involuntary dip in the water.
Just know that everyone has fallen in at one point or another. From the most experienced paddle boarders down to the amateurs who don’t know paddle boarding from surfing, everybody has gotten wet.
So make the most of your stand up paddle boarding trek and be willing to fail! It is much more fun to take a step outside your comfort zone and try something new than to sit on the sidelines.