How to stay safe on your stand up paddleboard

Here are the answers to the test at the end of the equipment problems chapter in book 3

1. If you realise that your inflatable paddleboard has a small leak while you’re out paddling, how serious a situation is it?

Smaller leaks are actually not a serious problem, unless your board is already at a very low pressure. They certainly don’t mean instant or even imminent deflation, there’s so much air inside an inflatable SUP that you’ll have quite a bit of time before the board becomes unrideable. While your board is optimally meant to be inflated to 15psi (or ideally more), it will still function with far less pressure; you’ll almost certainly be able to get home even with just 2-3psi in the board, albeit not so efficiently, especially if you kneel or lie down. So don’t panic if you realize that your board has a leak. If you’re just about to set off for an all-day paddle mission then you’ll need to rethink, but if you’re halfway around a 45-minute paddle on your lake then relax – you’re going to get home OK.

2. Name the main types of serious damage that an inflatable paddleboard could experience?

The board is ripped open by a solid object

The board gets damaged in a collision with another craft

The board is damaged by something with teeth

The board self-destructs

3. If your inflatable paddleboard suffers a fatal blow-out and fully deflates while out to sea, what should be your immediate actions?

You’ve got about 20 seconds before your board is just a piece of soggy cloth, and quite possibly about to go into submarine mode. If there is anybody close by, call for help immediately. Drop to your knees, again it’ll buy you a few more seconds of time, scream, shout, whistle, wave your paddle, you’re so much easier to see while you’re on the board rather than in the water.

If you’ve got a drybag or anything else attached to the board, remove it now. Once the board loses all its air and becomes waterlogged it’s going to be a whole lot harder to do this, especially if your board sinks below the surface.

Get your leash off fast.

Sort out your buoyancy aid.

Now you need to swim to safety – there’s no point staying where you are. Forget about your board, don’t try to bring it with you. It will be utterly impossible to do anything with on its own, and even trying will just tire you out. It’s no use to you now

4. What must you do after getting to shore, if your board is still out there?

Try and recover it, but you’ll probably need several people and a decent craft to do this. If you can’t recover it, it’s vital that you inform the coastguard / local waterway authorities what’s happened. Otherwise someone else may find the board, report it and hence launch a futile search and rescue mission to find the rider.

5. What are the main factors that determine the life of an inflatable paddleboard?

How well made it is.

What color it is (particularly around the rails).

How old it is.

How much sun and heat abuse it’s endured.

How well you’ve looked after it.

6. Is it worth carrying a puncture repair kit?

A proper repair on an inflatable board requires deflating the board and the glue being allowed to cure ideally for at least 24 hours. So it’s not like a bike tyre which can be repaired almost instantly. If you put a temporary patch on an inflated board, it’s just going to blow the patch off.

7. If you lose your fin completely, what should you do?

It is still perfectly feasible to paddle without a fin, it’s just rather swervy and tedious. Get as far forward on the board as you can and change sides every two or three strokes, whether you feel you need to or not. It’s much harder if you have to paddle into the wind though – nigh-on impossible if it’s a stiff breeze. In this scenario you’re better off getting down and paddling with your hands, either from your knees or prone.

8. If your paddle snaps, but you still have both halves, what should you do?

If your paddle has snapped but you still have the bottom section you can easily paddle with that from a kneeling position.

9. If paddling on your knees, how should you hold the paddle?

When you’re paddling on your knees, do not hold the handle! Hold on to the shaft much lower down; hands at 1/3 and 2/3, or even lower. Thumbs should always be closest to the handle (ie; not a kayaker’s grip with thumbs pointing towards each other). Push that paddle blade down into the water, rather than out to the side. If you need to paddle hard, kneel up, rather than sitting back on your heels.