The stand up paddle (SUP) craze has exploded (hopefully not literally) in the past few years. The rhythmic hiss of air being forced through a narrow valve has become an increasingly familiar sound to all who frequent the bord du lac on a warm summer’s day.
For some, it’s a chance to escape the crowded beach, paddle out a short way and relish a petite private island away from the flock of beach dwellers. A sort-of floating sun-bed. For others, it’s a serious workout. You see them capped and glistening, muscles straining as they pump and glide through the lake like silk. Then for others, like me, it’s a relatively accessible and fun way to enjoy a refreshing workout and savour the lake from a different perspective. (Without having to sell an organ to own a small yacht or pay an annual docking fee.)
If you sense yourself succumbing to the siren call of the SUP or you’ve already been lured by the latest lake accessory, here’s some tips aimed to help you get down with the stand up trend:
Where can you rent and practice SUP in Vaud?
There are plenty of places to rent SUPs around our riviera, which may well be the best way to enjoy a SUP in a sustainable way. Some of these places offer lessons for complete beginners as part of their rentals, and some offer renting abonnements, so you can have all of the fun of SUP without the pumping and storing:
- Passion Nautique Morges
- Narval Sports Passion Morges
- Surfshop Preverenges
- Pedalino in Vidy
- Swisspaddle in Vevey
- NauticLoisirs Montreux
If you do have the joy of pumping up a SUP, don’t skimp on the air (even when it gets tough towards the end). Use a pump with a pressure gauge and put the recommended PSI in, after all, you want a board, not a banana boat, in the water.
Start from your knees, it’s tempting to stay there and aim for the ‘Pocahontas style’, but they’re called ‘stand ups’ for a reason. Aim to plant your feet in the middle of the SUP with your feet apart, keep your eyes on the horizon and engage your core. The more self-conscious of us have tried it out for the first time down in the quieter beaches like Rivaz or Pully before casting off from the more populated beaches of Lutry or Vidy. Wherever you go, and however many attempts it takes, like the Real Slim Shady, please, stand up.
When you’re standing up (go you!) and want to figure out what to do next, there are countless Youtube videos on perfecting the paddle stroke, and learning turns and tricks. But for starters, here’s how to go in a straight line: If you start paddling on the right, your right hand should be lower down the paddle and your left hand rests on top of the grip. The paddle stroke should engage your whole core, try to keep your arms fairly straight and lean slightly forward from the hips. Submerge the paddle blade completely, pull it back to your ankles whilst keeping your strokes short and close alongside the board. Paddle a few strokes on one side, then switch to the other and reverse your hand positions.
Some lesser known pointers:
- You should have your name, address and phone number written somewhere clearly on the board (I have mine written on a piece of duct tape), so that the board is identifiable should you and your board become regrettably separated. You don’t need a license or registration for a SUP.
- If you’re paddling further out than 300m from the shore, you need to have a life jacket on board (you don’t have to wear it, although you’re encouraged to). If you want to know how to tell when you’re more than 300m from the shore, that’s just slightly fewer meters than the Chrysler Building. I know, helpful.
- Don’t paddle into areas that are marked by buoys (For example, the area surrounding Lutry plage and the diving board, the Ouchy Quayside or the marine research plant off the shore of Pully). So, heed the advice of my grandma and ‘stay away from those buoys’.
- You shouldn’t go out for a paddle if your alcohol level is more than 0.25 mg/l (0.5%). So, don’t sip and SUP.
Some Safety Suggestions:
- If it’s windy, wear the leash. Check the wind direction and start out by heading into the wind. This will help make sure you have energy to make it the whole way back to where you started (with a little push from the breeze)
- Keep having a regular dip in the water, or at least acclimatizing your feet, hands or splashing your neck so that the temperature isn’t a shock in case you fall in, which you might when the CGN kicks up the surf.
- As far as lake vessels go, on a SUP, you’re close to the bottom of the pecking order. So, don’t contend with the CGN or other boats, just get out of the way, and don’t linger when crossing port entrances, or your stand up fun might become a not-so-fun stand-off.
- If the weather turns while you’re out on the lake look out for the signaling lights in the ports. When the light begins to rotate at around 40 flashes a minute, it usually means there’s a storm predicted. Take caution and stay in proximity to a safe place to get out. When the light rotates at 90 flashes a minute, get out at the nearest safe spot available.
- In addition to following the above suggestions, just apply common sense; Respect the water; always check the forecast before heading out; take a hat, sun screen and water…and enjoy!