Always get a lesson before heading out on any waterway to learn about safety, waterway etiquette, and how to respect your local environment.
What first? Think safety but of course have fun!
The best place to start is to have an intro or beginner session to learn the basics on Personal and River safety, along with understanding how to use the correct equipment for you personally. Even if you have already bought your own SUP board and feel you can get up on your board and paddle there are still rules and regs to follow in the different areas which you will paddle.
Always make sure you check this out on local Governing body websites for example BSUPA/ASI Environment Agency.
River/sea etiquette, and safety should be in the forefront of your mind before heading out alone for the first time.
There are so many different opinions and advice, along with forums sharing ideas when it comes to SUP, which is awesome, but it can be quite confusing knowing which one is correct or who to listen to. Always listen to a reputable brand with the correct qualifications and advice.
Here we’ll share the basics with you, keep it simple, clean, safe and fun.
If you are unsure, don't go out until you feel confident and secure in the info you have. The sea is very different to river paddling and takes skill and knowledge to understand the tides and different kinds of currents.
If you are unsure, book a session with a local Sea SUP guide and always make sure you assess risk before heading out.
It's best to head out with a friend rather than alone especially on your first outing.
This is a must on river-ways and waterways where you may face entanglement or obstructions whilst out paddling.
For river paddling you should always wear a coiled leash, for the sea a straight leash is fine.
Don't even think about heading out on the waterways without a PFD/buoyancy aid. This is your safety net if you are to come into any danger whilst out paddling. There are plenty of affordable options online, so no excuses!
Also wear a bright colour to be seen easily.
When you are new to SUP, there is a lot to take in. Get the right advice about your body weight and the correct kind of board for you.
Make sure before heading out the board is inflated correctly for a fu safe paddling experience.
This is super important to have a means of contacting either your emergency contact or the emergency services if needed. Make sure you're fully charged and have a waterproof covering to protect it from any damage.
Get savvy with the correct weather apps and make sure you plan ahead of your journey before heading out anywhere on water.
Wind speed/gust speed over 15mph isn’t fun or safe.
Water height and flow. The pace of water flow if there has been a lot of rain fall can be dangerous. Always check on the Environment Agency website for updates on safe paddling.
Lightning forecasts - if there are any warnings, don't risk it. Check the Met Office or BBC Weather for updates.
If the weather changes, or you fall in and you’re miles away from home, this can be a life saver.
Pack the following:
Educate yourself before heading out.
You must have a valid license for your SUP board on both Tidal and Non Tidal Thames.
Travel on the right-hand side in the direction of travel being both cautious and courteous to other river users. Treat the river as a road but on the opposite side and always be aware of moving vessels, traffic, and obstructions you may face before heading out.
You can learn more about River Safety and how to navigate with a beginner’s session.
The river is a fun place to be but can also be very dangerous. I advise anyone heading out for the first time to become a safe paddler by gaining the correct knowledge by enrolling onto a beginner session. This way we can all enjoy the waterways safely and responsibly.
Find out where and when restrictions and closures are.