How to stay safe on your stand up paddleboard

Here are the answers to the knowledge test at the end of the PPE chapter in book 1. 

1. In order to choose the right attire for your session, what two factors do you need to know?

  • Air temperature.
  • Water temperature.

2. What thickness is a typical wetsuit?

  • Trick question! here is no such thing as a ‘typical’ wetsuit. Wetsuits can range from something that will keep you a little bit warmer than just a pair of shorts and a rashvest, through to garments that will allow you to swim cheerfully in freezing water for many hours. Thicknesses can range from 1mm to 10mm. The only thing all wetsuits have in common is that they contain neoprene.

3. If the air is warm but the water is below 15°C / 59°F, what would be the safest options for paddleboarding?

  • Be aware of the risks of cold water shock response, which can occur in water temperatures below 15 °C/ 59°F. Either dress for the air temperature (go for layers, with a good base layer garment next to the skin) but also wear a permanent buoyancy PFD, or just play safe and wear some neoprene.

4. Which of these would be the least appropriate as a warm wetsuit for paddleboarding: windsurfing wetsuit, a swimming wetsuit, or a diving wetsuit ?

  • A diving wetsuit. Diving suits usually favor open-celled neoprene, which is a whole different game to the inner-lined neoprene used in boardsport suits. Suits for diving are designed for very little upper body movement and the aim is to stay in the water for a very long time. Windsurfing suits are designed for a fairly similar environment to paddleboarding – ie; primarily out of the water. Swimming wetsuits are designed to be extremely stretchy and allow plenty of body movement, but are very tight-fitting for minimum drag, harder to get on and off and not designed with abrasion in mind, so are slightly less well suited to paddleboarding, but still a viable option.

5. Which gives more sun protection; high SPF sun-cream or a high-UPF rash vest?

  • A decent rashvest gives way more sun protection than putting sunscreen on. Plus which, it also gives you that extra bit of protection from board rash when clambering back onto your paddleboard.

6. Which part of the body is most prone to injury? Name some of the injuries that this body part may encounter.

  • Your feet. Stepping (or falling) off the board onto a sharp object, stubbing your toe, walking over rocks, standing on something walking the board in/out of the water, having to walk over hot sand…

7. UPF is the same as SPF – true or false?

  • False: ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin. A UPF 50 fabric blocks 98% of the sun’s rays and allows 2% (1/50th) to penetrate. Sun protection factor (SPF) is based on the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden; so an SPF 15 sunscreen may protect your skin 15 times longer, etc. Also, SPF only measures protection against UV-B, whereas UPF measures against both UVA and UVB.

8. Sun protection is only an issue if the sun is shining – true or false?

  • False: you can still burn on a cloudy day.

9. For base layer clothing to work properly it needs to be close-fitting – true or false?

  • True: for base layer clothing to work properly it does need to be close-fitting. Not so tight that it’s restrictive, but it should definitely feel snug, much tighter than a tee-shirt would be.

10. Base layer clothing is designed to be waterproof. True or false?

  • False. Base layer clothing is absolutely not designed to be waterproof, indeed quite the opposite. If you do want waterproofing (ie; to keep the rain off) then this should be the outermost layer.

11. Natural fabrics such as merino wool tend to retain body odor more than artificial fabrics – true or false?

  • False. Merino wool is naturally antibacterial, meaning it doesn’t retain body odor in the fabric. It also offers natural UV protection, and is non-abrasive and suitable for people with sensitive skin. The downsides of wools are that they are less quick to dry and are not quite so good at wicking sweat away from the body.

12. Drysuits should be tight-fitting for maximum thermal efficiency – true or false?

  • False. You’re not looking for a super-close fit; the suit will be uncomfortable and restrictive to movement if it’s too tight, plus which the thermal efficiency of your clothing layers will be significantly reduced if they’re pressed tightly against your skin. But the drysuit most certainly shouldn’t be too loose either, as it can end up leaking, especially if the neck seal opens to release excess air when you fall in.