Why it probably isn't your fault you can't stand up on your paddleboard!

Why it probably isn't your fault you can't stand up on your paddleboard!

If you’re one of the many prospective beginners at stand up paddleboarding who believe they won’t be able to or have tried and can’t stand up on their paddleboard, then you really could be missing out for all the wrong reasons and IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, and it could be a very EASY FIX!      

We are all bombarded by conflicting messages from many different retailers, brands, social media forums and more! This means many people buy the wrong board for the wrong reasons and find they’ve spent a lot of money on a board they can’t stand up on, so let’s see if we can help!

We wanted to share our view in answering the two biggest questions you should think about when you’re thinking about starting paddleboarding; Should I get a Paddleboard lesson? and What Size Paddleboard do I need?  Hopefully our guides below will get you onto the right track to putting the “Stand Up” into your Stand Up Paddleboarding faster!

Three reasons you should get a paddleboard lesson

You should most definitely book yourself onto a lesson if you can, even if you've been paddleboarding for a while!  For many people their first experience of watersports will be through paddleboarding so whilst there’s so much amazing stuff to learn about coastal and inland paddleboarding, you’ve got to start somewhere. 

The basics around safety and how to get the most of your time on the water can be shared in a short time and most instructors and paddleboard centres will get you on your feet quickly for three key reasons;

  1. they will give you confidence by teaching you the right techniques around balance,  paddle strokes etc and provide safety equipment, wetsuits if you need them and a supervised environment to learn in.  There will usually be range of lessons from taster sessions through to beginner, intermediate and discipline-specific focus sessions as well as events such as sunrise/sunset paddles, tours and much much more!
  2. they will have premium quality paddleboards in a range of lengths and thicknesses so they can cater for different people with different skill levels and you can start to get an idea of what paddleboard will be right for you.
  3. they will have experience of teaching people of different abilities and of the immediate environment so even as an experienced paddler in a new area, it’s always worth checking-in to get the latest information on the best paddle spots, any local hazards or good refreshment stops on the way!

We’ve rustled up a quick overview of the best paddling spots in Torbay where we are headquartered which includes links to instructor facilities if available.

Why it's probably your board's fault you can't stand up!

We think getting or trying the wrong board is the number one reason many beginners think they can’t stand up when actually it’s kind of their boards’ fault.  So what is it we aren’t being told when we buy a paddleboard and what do we need to understand to get a board that’s right for us?

Here are a few common reasons that a board might not be right for you;

  • Your board doesn’t have enough volume in it to hold your weight (it’s too small for you!)
  • The board construction isn’t stiff enough to evenly displace the water under it (it’s too bendy!)
  • The board isn’t inflated to the correct pressure (as much use as flat tyre on a car)
  • The board can’t take the required amount of pressure to make it operate based on it’s volume (it’s cheaply made so the manufacturing factory can’t recommend a higher pressure)
  • A combination of all of the above

So to catch you up on paddleboard volume, this is the space that the board occupies when it is pumped up.  If it was a standard 3-D object such a cube or a cuboid we would need to multiply the height by the width and the length to calculate this.

Paddleboard volume is measured in litres and your board needs to displace 1 litre of water for every kilo you weigh just to get you and your board to meet at the water level (i.e. your board under water and your feet just on the surface).  You then need additional litres of volume to raise your board to sit you and your board on top of the water.  The exact number of litres you’ll need to make that work for you will be different based on; board construction, PSI, your ability, water conditions, and how much you are planning to carry, but we use the following calculations as a good guide;

For total max weight (i.e. you + all your clothes, safety kit, water, packed lunch, dog…)

Total weight in kg             x              2.2          =             Volume in litres needed

…but this really is the minimum volume you would need and assumes you are already pretty experienced so for optimal performance with you + all your clothes, safety kit, water, packed lunch, dog we would suggest more volume so;

Total weight in kg             x              2.7          =             Volume in litres needed

In practical terms this would mean our Miramar SX-B at 233 litres would be optimal for you at 85kg (+/- 5-10kilos) and would take 105kg at max load but if you would prefer to go up to 105kg frequently the Miramar X-B at 277 litres would put your load into the optimal range for that board.  If you are going for longer paddles and really fancy bringing a lot of gear with you, our Supramar X-T touring board will take 140kg as its optimum load and is equipped on deck to help you hold it all in place! 

So here’s the kicker - how come we can’t stand up on a paddleboard that says “paddlers / riders up to 100kg” when we weigh maybe 85kg… that’s probably because you are learning on a board that ticks all of the common reasons that a board might not be right for you we mentioned above - so irrespective of the volume of the board, it can’t hold it’s shape to make that volume useful to you.  We came across (and commented on) this great video which shows how people who should be able to get up on their board are held back by a 10’ x 28” x 4” board, which we hasten to add is not one of ours! We estimate the board to have a volume of approximately 150-160 litres which would mean an optimal volume for a beginner paddler around 55kg by our reckoning and we observe it is likely single layer PVC so would not deliver that buoyancy effectively via a stiff construction. In short, completely insufficient for learners – the first minute of this video tells the story well but feel free to watch on!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtVs_lwW0Dg     

The four things you need to think about when buying a paddleboard to help you stay on your feet!

  1. Find a board or a brand you like and stretch your budget to get the best quality – we of course would prefer it to be a LUUM board, but failing that buy from another UK brand* 
  2. Understand your weight in kilos if Stones and Pounds are normally your thing and multiply your weight 2.2 and again by 2.7 to get a volume range that you need to work within – if you can’t find any information on board volume it’s usually a sign that the brand doesn’t think it’s important, BUT if you love the look of a board, always call them to check, they may not include it as many people just buy on length width and thickness.
  3. Look for a woven fusion or knitted fusion construction board.  Try to avoid single layer if your budget permits. It will last longer and be less susceptible to wear and tear.
  4. Try and get a look at as many different boards as you can get your hands on before you buy, whether that’s during a lesson, borrowing a friends or politely asking people you bump into at the beach or elsewhere if you can take a look at their board

For anything else give us a call or drop us an email, if we don’t know the answer we’ll definitely know someone who does!

Stay safe and look out for each other on the water

 *but understand that currently inflatable paddleboards may be designed in the UK but are not made in the UK, so look beyond the union jack logos for the real story