There are a great many reasons as to why stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has quickly become one of the most popular watersports in Australia, being celebrated for its accessibility and adventure. SUP opens up various bodies of water, from seafronts to lakes and rivers, for exploration, enabling practitioners to not only traverse new landscapes but also find tranquillity and respite away from land.
Before you begin venturing out onto the water, it is important that you choose both the right paddleboard and equipment for your intentions. There isn’t a model of paddleboard that is entirely suitable for all SUP activities and, as such, beginners should spend some time exploring various options and designs.
Inflatable Or Solid
The first hurdle, and perhaps the most important, is choosing between an inflatable and solid SUP. At a glance, both will function as a paddleboard but the major distinction is that an inflatable board can be compacted when not in use, making it easier to both transport and store. The process of inflating it once at the beach is simple and can be made even easier with a high-quality board pump, with deflation being just as efficient.
For beginners, there are likely to be few other noticeable differences, especially as inflatable board design improves. However, professional paddleboarders, as well as those who seek high performance from their gear, are most likely to prefer solid boards, since their design gives them a more consistent edge at faster speeds and in more extreme situations.
For those unfamiliar with sailing, these terms are likely to mean little. They are, however, referring to the shape of the board, drawn from the ‘hull’ of a boat. A planing hull is more rounded and flat, making the board preferable to those looking for a leisurely paddle with better stability and maneuverability.
A displacement board, on the other hand, is generally more pointed, with a greater potential for speed. These boards are best suited to confident riders and those looking to push themselves further and faster on the water. They are a little more difficult to maneuver too, making them less preferable to those starting out and those looking to navigate tighter corners.
When choosing a board, you’re likely to notice three general sizes to choose from small, medium, and large. These sizes are generally suggested to suit the size of those riding them, with smaller boards reserved for children and young riders. However, there are a few differences that make size an important consideration for all.
Larger boards are more likely to have displacement designs and, as a result, be used for more adventurous use. Accordingly, medium to small boards are more prone to a rounded design, making them perfect for beginners and those looking to explore the water at a more measured pace.
Boards will also note their potential for weight, expressed in volume. This is not always an important consideration for paddleboarders when they just start out but, if you’re looking to explore with extra equipment, especially picnics, then you might want to opt for a larger, more stable board that can handle the extra weight.