One of the biggest danger to standup paddlers is offshore winds…meaning, wind that are blowing from the land out to sea. This also applies to lakes and rivers.
The wind has a huge influence on where you are paddling, especially when you are first learning.
You need to make sure you don’t put yourself in a situation where you are getting blown out to sea or putting your life at risk and one of the most important safety techniques you can learn while standup paddling is how to lay down and paddle against the wind.
But before we get into that, it’s important to mention that prevention is one of the biggest factors in safety.
Before you go out on any watercraft, make sure you check the weather and especially pay attention to wind direction.
If there is a strong offshore wind and you are not sure if you can handle it…stay out of the water!
This is especially important if you are paddling an area you are unfamiliar with. Ask a local or stop by an area shop for tips on the conditions and what to look out for.
Use Proper Safety Equipment
Make sure you are using the proper safety equipment and always wear a leash! The only exception to this is in a river situation. Make sure you wear or have a life jacket handy. This is the law in many areas and just good common sense safety!
Inform a Loved One on Where You Will Be
You should also be informing a loved one before you go on any adventure on where you will be and when they should expect to hear back from you. Remember the movie “127 Hours”? Let’s not repeat that!
Strong offshore wind can be deadly for all ocean craft as it can pick up suddenly and sweep you out to sea before you even know what’s happening.
The Lay Down SUP Technique
If the wind picks up and you can no longer paddle forward you will want to lay down, secure your paddle in between your chest and the board and alternate your stroke right and left to get back into shore.
While you are standing up you are essentially like a sail, but laying down, there is significantly less wind resistance and you are able to cut through the wind at a much faster rate.
The Kneeling SUP Technique
Other situations that present danger, such as approaching a rocky area that you are not comfortable with, or an extreme side-chop that you simply cannot stand up in, call for kneeling down on your board and paddling it like a canoe.
You will want to bring your hands down the paddle so they are toward the bottom with a semi wide grip and paddle your sup like a canoe to get out of danger.
Here is an older video by Waterman Legend Dave Kalama explaining the different techniques: