Community & People
Due to global lockdowns and the desire for us all to venture outside for varied daily exercise and mental wellbeing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has skyrocketed in popularity and more children than ever are joining family and friends for fun times and adventure, both home and away.
One of the best things about SUP is that it’s so versatile. It can be an adrenaline-fuelled experience on a windsurf SUP board or surfing the waves on a surf SUP, full of fun and laughter on a giant board like the Family or one that is more gentle and sedate on an all round, or Yoga iSUP.
But, like any sport, there are things you need to be aware of to keep safe and with the majority of children being less experienced in and on the water, safety is not to be taken lightly. By making some time for simple checks you can enjoy a safe, fun experience that makes lasting memories.
1. Life jackets, personal floatation devices (PFD) or buoyancy aids are highly recommended – for you and an essential for your children. Many adults are seen on their boards without this important accessory, however we recommend paddlers wear one at all times. It’ll keep everyone safe if they fall in – and they will fall in! Even the experts fall in and if you and your family all end up in the water, you want to know that they will stay afloat until you have time to get them back on the board safely. You can find comprehensive information in this RNLI guide about the different types of PFD.
Check out our Buoyancy Aids
2. Make sure you have chosen the right type of board. We have many different types of boards and have written an article about choosing the correct one, here. The most important factor before heading out with your children, is knowing that the board will support your combined weight, as well any other things you’re taking…picnics, camera equipment etc! The other consideration is stability. For example, you wouldn’t want to take your children out on one of our 12’6”/27” Race SUPs as they are a slim shape designed to support one person.
3. Wear your leash. There have been debates on this subject in recent months, but we stand by the fact that they are the safest way to keep you connected to your board, especially when you have children in the water too. There’s nothing more frustrating or potentially dangerous than having to swim after your paddleboard if you fall off. British Canoeing has some great tips to help you decide which leash is right for you.
4. Know your board. Before you head off to the beach, unroll your board and ensure you have everything you need. Explain the board to the children before entering the water and make sure they are aware of their role and position. Ensure they know when it is safe to jump from the paddleboard and when it is not.
5. Take your phone. Not only will your phone be there to capture the memory of a great experience, but it’s also there to use in emergencies. We provide several waterproof phone cases that allow you to use the touch screen and make calls:
6. Ensure you check the forecast, weather and tides, before you set out. You definitely don’t want to risk choppy water for a beginner or offshore winds that may blow your board out to sea and make it very difficult and tiring for you to paddle with additional people on board.
7. Choose your location carefully. Calm waters are best for children learning to SUP but be aware that some calm waters will have dangerous currents too. Somewhere away from other water traffic like jet skis, boats and ferries is recommended as there will be less in the way of sudden waves to contend with and will help your children to feel confident and relaxed. We do recommend that you try to find somewhere that has safe places for your children to jump from the board for some fun as well as safe places to land for a picnic, short break or hunt for shark egg cases.
8. Get practicing! It’s tempting to get your children to remain sitting on the board, but we recommend you try to encourage them from the start to practice coming up on their knees to get a feel for the balance. If they’re really confident and the conditions are right, there’s no problem in letting them also have a go at paddling!
9. Suncream is essential even in seemingly cloudy conditions. The water will reflect the sun and with a small breeze you will not notice how much the sun is affecting your skin. Children should also wear a hat if possible to protect their face, neck and ears from the sun. If you have a UPF 50+ rash guard or swim shirt to prevent sunburn on your arms, shoulders, and upper torso – all the better.
We hope you have enjoyed this short guide. Please let us know on social media and don’t forget to tag us in all your adventures!