Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook
    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Stand-Up Paddleboarding Responsibly

    Stand-Up Paddleboarding Responsibly

    Photo By Pamela Doty | Blog Header Picture read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    You may be surprised to hear that according to the U.S. Coast Guard, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are considered a vessel. Vessel sales of all types have increased in recent years and the popularity of stand-up paddleboarding is also on the rise. Unfortunately, retail outlets don’t usually tell you when you buy a vessel what safety equipment you need or what laws apply to your sport. Proper safety equipment is more than just wearing a properly-fitted life jacket designed for your particular on-water activity. Paddleboarding safely usually requires a leash designed for the specific type of water you’re enjoying. Wearing the wrong type of leash could be fatal to you and not wearing one could potentially injure or kill others if your board (or fin) hits them.

    Leashes attach the board to the user to prevent the board from launching considerable distance when you fall off. In open waters (lakes, rivers, ocean etc.), wave action and current caused by wind or boats can make swimming to get back to your board very challenging, unless you have a leash to help bring it back to you. Retrieving a paddle and board that have both been launched in different directions after a fall off a paddleboard can create an exhausting situation for any swimmer in open waters.

    How your leash attaches to you will depend on what type of water you’re on. In flat (slow or non-moving) water, you can attach a leash cuff with Velcro to your dominant ankle or calf. However, if you’re on fast-moving water, you need a quick-release leash attached to the front of your life jacket where you can easily reach it with both hands. Fast-moving water presents some unique challenges, like if your board gets stuck on something (i.e. logs, branches, or rocks). A quick-release leash, attached to your life jacket at your waist, allows you to escape from your board in those situations.

    The other difference in leashes is that they come with cords that are straight, coiled, and hybrid (a combination of the first two types). The best leashes have a swivel at both ends that allows it to rotate and prevents it from becoming twisted. The coiled and hybrid leashes are designed to stay out of the water preventing it from catching on debris etc. and it brings your board back to you quickly. Using a coiled leash in ocean surf could cause your board to snap back at you too fast and that combined with wave action could possibly hurt you. Therefore, in ocean surf zones a straight leash is recommended. A straight leash is designed to drag behind the board so it’s easier to do tricks and it returns the board to the user more slowly. Straight leashes should never be used when there is a risk of entanglement or obstructions in the water!

    An inflatable, belt-style, life jacket worn in front of you, is a comfortable choice for flat-water, stand-up paddleboarding, but they are not recommended for non-swimmers and they won’t help you if you’re knocked unconscious in a fall. Plus, they are not approved for anyone under the age of 16. You may choose to wear an inflatable, belt-style, life jacket in ocean surf, but a deployed (inflated) inflatable life jacket when you’re still attached to a board, or an inherently-buoyant (foam) life jacket in ocean surf, can be very dangerous for two reasons. One, anything that makes you float will prevent you from being able to swim underneath the waves. Two, when you fall from your board, your head and neck will be on the water’s surface close to the hard edges of the board and the fin(s).

    Fins are on the bottom of most stand-up paddleboards. They keep you paddling in a relatively straight line and without them most people would only be able to paddle in circles. The type of fins and the way they should be setup depends on what type of water you’re on, so do your research. More importantly, fins can be a cause for injuries, especially in fast-moving water. However, even in flat water if you fall off your board without wearing a leash, and your board, or its fin, strikes someone nearby, it could potentially critically injure them.

    Stand-up paddleboarding on rivers with whitewater is probably the most difficult of all SUP sports and it presents some unique challenges regarding equipment and only strong swimmers with proper SUP river training should take on this challenge. An inherently-buoyant (foam) life jacket designed for these activities is a must because they have places to attach your quick-release leash and the always important whistle. A coiled or hybrid leash is what is recommended on moving rivers in class 1 (easy), class 2 (novice), and some class 3 (intermediate) situations. Other critical safety equipment includes pads for elbows and knees, plus a helmet. Proper SUP whitewater training is a must to learn how to scout and navigate the challenging classes of current on rivers. Rivers are unpredictable and constantly changing. There are some times in fast-moving current when a leash may not be recommended, but that decision should only be made with proper preparation and training.

    The keys to minimizing SUP risks is proper training; following the federal, state, and local laws for your area; and wearing the right leash and life jacket for your particular type of SUP activity. Being a responsible stand-up paddleboarder helps ensure that all your times on the water are fun and enjoyable! Please share this information with those you know who SUP; you could save a life.



    Date Taken: 01.22.2021
    Date Posted: 01.22.2021 17:15
    Story ID: 387433
    Location: US

    Web Views: 67
    Downloads: 0