Stand Up Paddle Surfing/Boarding/SUP in Devon - South West
Stand up Paddle (SUP) originated like Surfing in Hawaii in 1940's when the local surfers paddled out standing up to take pictures of the tourists in Wikiki, standing up to ride alongside, to get the right shot.
Why would you want to stand up on a board and paddle it?
Stand up paddleboarding is quite simply the fastest growing watersport in the world over the last few years and until you give it a go you may stuggle to understand why. We've been teaching SUP for some time now (we also teach windsurfing, wakeboarding and have taught kitesurfing too in the past). We've done plenty of lessons teaching teaching from 5-75 yrs. What we find when teaching SUP boarding is that in the right conditions everyone not only picks it up quickly but really enjoy the sensation of gliding across the water stood up, be it in and around the coast looking down into rock pools or following a crystal clear river around every bend and turn finding new places you never knew were there. Then also catching your first wave or swell already stood up, with SUP there's alway more things to do. Since we first tried SUP we've explored so many new places, we've caught tiny wakes behind a boat we've caught ocean swells out to sea we've ridden tidal bores and got barrelled in chunky surf and ridden reef breaks way out to sea. We've also been on long distance trips down the coast , we've seen dolphins, seals, loads of fish, looked down on spider crabs below, been followed by birds around rock gullies and plenty more. These are just some of the reasons you should stand up on a board and paddle it.
Why stand on a massive surfboard and paddle it around? Flat water SUP is very accessible to almost anyone. Most SUP Boards are 30" and wider offer a very stable platform to cruise around on giving you a very comfortable paddling position. (Why does anyone sit down and paddle?) The boards come in different sizes and widths to suit any size rider. The longer boards are more flat water or larger rider oriented, these boards glide through the water smoothly (less wind the better) giving a stable comfortable ride. Standing up means you see alot more, (News to our surf or kayak friends) paddling and looking down you can see through the water (fish, seaweed, bottom etc.) as well as around. A half hour paddle on flat water uses lots of muscles you may have forgotton about, across your shoulders, whole back and core as well as your legs and gives a low impact all over workout (you won't want a 5/3 wintersuit on!). In general SUP Flat water is sociable, a good sensation and an easy workout, alot more exciting than the gym!
If you live next to a barreling reef break that works every time you're off, and you can surf a 6ft board then you don't need a SUP Board. However if you want to try surfing in easy small waves or want to spend more time riding waves than sitting on you're board, then SUP Surfing is for you. Why SUP Surf? On a big long board you can catch any wave 6 inches high to 15 foot high on the same board. Paddling with a paddle gets you on to waves super early meaning you can catch waves alot earlier than a normal surfboard. Riding with a paddle means you can paddle through any flat spot on the wave meaning you can literally ride the wave from way beyond any surfer all the way up to the beach if you want to. If youv'e never surfed before you'll find the easiest way is on a SUP Board, no scrambling to your feet, jumping up on a wobbly board. You are already standing up, all you need is a gentle paddle onto the wave and you're up and riding and even have a paddle to lean against on the wave like a stabiliser to make it more controlable. Surfing is a fantastic sport but requires lots of time and practice in the right conditions to perfect. SUP surfing is easier not as radical but alot more accessible for more people. Surf already, Why SUP Surf? Having surfed all around the world for over 20 years at some of the worlds best breaks myself and coming home to a busy crowded, less than amazing conditions. Doesn't make me want to rush out and sit in the line out for less than ideal conditions. SUP makes even the less than perfect days great. On average I'd say I get 5 times as many waves, alot longer rides and best set waves on my SUP unless its too windy, then its hard work! On lighter wind days catching more waves not wearing boots, gloves, hood, just a warm summer suit in the winter is great fun. Paddling a SUP in surf can take a bit of getting used to. The first time you may find it difficult if you're with another first timer as its really funny! Watching your friend running forwards or falling down on the way out or being washed of his feet and falling on his backside on the way in, is endlessly funny, my ribs hurt from laughing so much, the first time I went out in the waves! Whats it really like to Surf a SUP? Stand up Paddle Boards are like being towed-in on a long board, not as radical as a short board, but you can get more waves and you can set yourself up to the right part of the wave way before you would normally be on it. More time riding, more waves, not as extreme, easier to surf more
Where to go SUP
Based in Plymouth at Reactive we have probably some of the best SUP locations in the UK. The South Hams has lots of beautiful, quiet picturesque estuarys to cruise around, these offer relaxing easy paddling, great for first trips or exploring with friends and most of them have gentle sand bar waves at the mouth. This sort of location is perfect for SUP as you'll have a deep water channel to paddle out in (no breaking waves) and easy uncrowded waves to ride. The river Yealm, Erme, Avon and the Kingsbridge Estuary all provide great SUP waves on their day. When surfing a SUP you can explore other reef breaks further afield, further than would would ever paddle a surf board, the journey is all part of the experience. Catching larger waves on your SUP is not always that simple. If you're looking for bigger waves getting out can be a bit tricky. Getting over a head high breaking wave is not too difficult, but getting over 8 feet of white water isn't going to be too easy, always look for a channel around the white water. Venues with lots of white water are less suitable for SUP, it simply makes it more difficult to get out. Start in smaller surf and as you become more experienced try some bigger stuff. We have been running a SUP Night every wednesday for the last few years all year around for people to try out SUP 7pm each week , we've introduced hundreds of people to paddleboarding over the last few years often getting up to 30 people out paddling in the evenings click here for more information. for more info on the best beaches, check out our Beach Guide
Being a SUP rider in a busy surf break is not going to make you many friends (just like canoes, kayaks and windsurfer's). Always start well away from other water user's, being hit by a 11ft surfboard isn't going to go down well. If you're riding with other surfers always let surfers drop in if they like (they don't usually). But never paddle on to a surfer's wave (he'll have spent a long time getting into the right place to catch it) you can also catch the next one alot easier. Simply give way to everyone else and stay well away from crowded surf. You can always paddle 200m away in no time and then have plenty of waves to yourself.
At Reactive we have the best range of quality paddleboards to try on you trip we are the countrys leading Starboard Paddleboard dealer offering a full range of race boards to try or down to the tiny 6'6 surf paddle boards (more specialist boards on request).
Click here to see our full range in our online shop or pop in and have a chat and see the boards and paddles in store we have flat water 5m away from the back of our shop (most of the day, tidal!) for you to come and test any board from the Starboard range . Starboard boards come in five constructions, TAC(full wood), Tuffskin (more robust with full foam deck all tuffskin boards also have windsurf option too!) Also Technora (ultralight) , AST (light) and Classic White (value, in selected models only). We'll always be happy to offer you a free paddle board trail out the back of the shop when the tide is in and chat over the range over a coffee in the shop afterwards.
Black Aluminium "Cut to size shaft" Alround paddle with plastic blade. Starboard Full Carbon - This fantastic looking super lightweight paddle gives more performance per storke and feather light too "Cut to size shaft" or custom fit.