How to start a SUP race?

If you have read our other articles about the stand up paddle (SUP), you know that there are several disciplines on this support and today we talk about SUP race.

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What is the SUP race?

The SUP Race differs from the SUP surfing or SUP riding because it is focused on racing. There are two types of races in SUP racing: the long-distance race, which requires endurance to get from point A to point B, and the technical race, which requires speed and technique to navigate the many turns.

SUP race events can take place on different bodies of water (rivers, lakes or sea) where several competitors compete, all equipped with specific material. This practice requires to master correctly the stand up paddle before launching into the race!


What equipment to practice SUP race?

Choosing your SUP race board

What size SUP race?

The SUP race board will be very different from the SUP surf board. Indeed, for the race we will look for a rigid board narrow and long. The ideal for a race board is between 12′ and 14′ feet long and between 24” and 28” wide. These characteristics will allow you to glide better on the water, to row better and therefore to go faster!

Which construction for the SUP race?

Two types of materials are to be considered for the construction of SUP races: fiber and carbon. The fiber paddle is qualitative since it is light and the price is lower. The carbon paddle is even lighter and therefore more expensive. It is up to you to choose the material of your choice according to your budget and preference.

Choose your SUP race paddle

The choice of paddle in a race takes into account many factors such as the level of experience, physical condition and the position of the paddle.

If you are a beginner, there is no point in having the lightest and most expensive paddle on the market. Start with a simple and flexible paddle to get the hang of race practice. An adjustable paddle will allow you to test different sizes and positions to find the perfect combo to get you up to speed.

Which paddle for your paddle?

The lightness of the paddle is important in the choice of the paddle. In general, large surfaces allow you to be explosive and small surfaces allow you to put frequency in the train.

The large surface area blades will push more water, so if you are strong enough to push water and put frequency into the strokes at the same time, this is the right choice. Otherwise, opt for a small surface, you will not go any slower!

What length for your paddle ?

For the length, it depends on your rowing position, if you are rather straight or if you tend to bend your knees to go down. On average, the paddle should be between 15 and 30 cm longer than your height to allow you to go for deeper stable water.

Aluminium, wood or carbon for your race paddle?

The choice of the material of the paddle also depends on you : wood, aluminium or carbon ? In SUP racing, we rarely ask ourselves this question because we are looking for solidity and lightness. The carbon paddle is therefore preferred but a little stiffer at the blade. Wooden and aluminium paddles are cheaper but much heavier.

product image sealion paddle

Choose your SUP race leash

In SUP racing, it is easier to use a “phone” or “spiral” leash that will not drag in the water and will not get stuck under your feet.

stand up paddle and wing foil leash


Techniques to adopt in SUP race

In SUP, to find the most effective and efficient paddling technique, there is no secret: you have to practice to find the right position. However, there are some good tips to get you started.

How to row a SUP race?

The SUP paddle must be efficient, meaning that it must give you speed and performance without tiring you. So you have to try to row hard to push more water and make the most distance in one stroke.

In steps : bring the paddle far in front, plant it in the water by bending the knees, press on the handle to go and look for the static water masses under the surface and, without wiggling, bring the paddle back to the feet by going along the board. Pull on the hand placed on the handle while accompanying with hand placed on the handle. The paddle will slide and it is up to you to find the right rhythm to give the next stroke without losing too much speed and without tiring yourself by putting too much pace.

Obviously, if you only paddle on one side of the paddle you will be going in circles and changing hands at each stroke would not be efficient ! So you can give a few strokes on one side, then on the other while keeping a good rhythm.

How to place your feet on the SUP race?

In SUP, the feet are generally placed under the hips, side by side. In SUP racing it is possible to paddle like this but to add weight to the paddle, some people opt for another possibility. You can also row with your feet staggered, right or left foot forward. However, you must remember to keep the middle of the board under the center of gravity to keep the board flat.


Under what conditions should I practice SUP racing?

Weather conditions and choice of spot

Ideally, the conditions for SUP racing are glassy and windless water. Indeed, it is always annoying to have swell at sea during a race session and for the wind it is the same thing.

However, you have to know how to use the elements: take advantage of the swell to surf it and take advantage of the wind at your back to push you!

For the choice of the spot, it depends on the events but they can take place in sea or lake. Train on both lakes!

Physical conditions too!

If you are going to compete, it is recommended that you have a certain level of fitness, whether it is for the long distance race or the speed race. The SUP race will work your thighs, your shoulders, your back, your deep abdominals and your heart, which is also a muscle.

Like all other sports, you have to train and keep fit to get results. To work on your cardio and train your heart to pump harder (not faster) you can do split sessions on the water, i.e. change of pace over a certain distance or over a certain time. To work the upper and lower body muscles, try to do some strengthening to avoid soreness and prepare your body for the effort.

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