Surf's up!
Hotcourses Editor

Surf's up!

Stand up paddle boarding lessons

First published date September 04 2012 Amended date August 28 2015

From wakeboarding to sailing, there are loads of water sports courses to be found here on Hotcourses. Water sports can be great fun and an even better way to stay fit. Stand up paddle boarding has come to our attention recently after a number of celebrities have been papped on the waves trying it. So, one Sunday, our web editor, Jade, headed off to Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire to attempt this up and coming water sport.


I first thought of trying stand up paddle boarding when I saw it pop up as I searched for water sports courses I might like to take. Then, when I spotted Rihanna posing for the paparazzi on a stand up paddle board I became determined to try it. I’d heard it was a really good water sport for improving fitness and working your core so I managed to convince five of my girlfriends to join me, with the promise that we would finish the day with abs like Rihanna’s.


It has to be said that the celebs looked far more glamourous doing it than we did. We had a sunny day, but this is England so of course we weren’t doing it in skimpy bikinis like they do in Hawaii. We were given life jackets too, just in case we went in. Which we did. A lot.


After strapping ourselves up, we headed to the water. As we were beginners, we tried it on a lake but you can do it on white water too, as well as the sea. Doing it on the ocean means you get to surf the waves as you would on a regular surf board but it’s said to be easier as the board is wider and you have the paddle to assist your movement. Of course flat water is the more sedate option and doing it on a calm river or lake can be a really novel way to take in the countryside (you can even do it on the Thames!) while mastering a new water sport.


We clumsily mounted our boards and drifted off into the water, our instructor talking us through how to get on the board (on your knees, then slowly up, feet about shoulder width apart in the middle). Then he showed us how to hold and move our paddle, and we were off.


Compared to other water sports, stand up paddle boarding (also known as SUP or stand up paddle surfing) is quite easy to learn and doesn’t require lengthy tuition. You stand on a board and propel yourself through the water using the paddle. All you need is fairly good balance (better balance may be required on rougher water!) and the stamina and willingness to stand up for a long period.


We got the hang of it fairly quickly. There were certain things like turning that we sometimes found difficult, but generally it wasn’t hard to pick up. It also helps that you don’t need to be a certain weight, height or at an advanced level of fitness to enjoy paddle boarding so no one was at a disadvantage.


As part of the lesson we were taught to do certain tricks, which made it really fun. Some of them were most certainly engineered to result in us falling in, like standing on the end of the board and tilting the front up – called the ‘Wheelie’. It was hilarious watching the others in the group try it and one by one we all got soaked!


As we glided across the lake, I chatted to our instructor about the sport. Originally stand up paddle boards provided a way for surf instructors in Hawaii to get out in the waves and watch over their teaching groups. It also meant they could see the swell of the wave long before it would arrive. Now it provides a calmer alternative to surfing as well as a way for people to stay fit and build muscles where they’re needed for other water sports.


At the end of our session we were each given a certificate to prove we were safe on the water, which means we can go back to the lake at any time, rent boards and go out on our own – something all six of us agreed we’d do in future. It was such a fun experience, made more enjoyable by doing it with a group of friends, and though I can’t say I’ve transformed into Rihanna, I’ve definitely found a new way to enjoy a sunny day!


If you like the idea of taking to the waves like Jade and her friends, have a look at the huge range of water sports courses listed here on Hotcourses.

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