How to stay safe on your stand up paddleboard

Bill Dawes has been working full time in stand up paddleboarding since 2007, when he was editor of the very first SUP magazine ever to hit the newstands. Since then he has worked in all aspects of the industry, including equipment design, retail and distribution,  teaching, coaching, instructor training, event management and SUP journalism, and was the founder of New Zealand Stand Up Paddling (NZSUP), the governing body for paddleboarding in New Zealand. 

His interest and specialisation in the safety aspects of the sport stem from his prior work on windsurfing safety, during his 15 years of windsurfing journalism  and product evaluation with the UK’s BOARDS Magazine. During that time he designed and produced a number of windsurfing safety products and wrote numerous articles on watersports safety, so when paddleboarding came along he had his safety awareness hat on right from the beginning. However, it wasn’t until the first paddleboarding fatality occured in his adopted homeland of New Zealand and he became involved in the coroner’s inquest, that his interest in safety grew to something more akin to an obsession, and he has been working pretty much full time in the world of paddleboarding safety since then, as National Safety Officer for NZSUP, and as part of the leadership group for the New Zealand Safer Boating Forum

In his role as National Safety Officer he travels around the country running safety training courses, liaising with retailers, schools, harbourmasters, councils, government departments and other organisations with an interest in water safety and assisting with writing policies and strategies – and of course, doing a whole lot of paddleboarding! Any spare time is spent researching paddleboarding safety issues and in discussion with experts in the field from other sports, looking for useful material and knowledge to bring across to paddleboarding. 

Other Contributors

These books absolutely would not have been possible without the input and assistance of Duncan Slater, a stalwart of the UK SUP scene. An extremely experienced instructor and very accomplished racer (one of the very few to have completed the 11 Cities SUP race tour on an inflatable raceboard!), Duncan has a huge knowledge of the sport which has been invaluable in the creation of these books, but most importantly, having been Bill’s Production Editor for 15 years back in the days of BOARDS Magazine, he was the perfect foil and counter-balance any time Bill’s copywriting needed reining in! Every writer needs an editor, and the end result of a really strong writer/editor team is a vastly better book – every time.  Read more about Duncan in this article from – as an interesting aside, the board Duncan was racing on for this event was designed by… Bill Dawes.  It’s a small world in the SUP industry!

Meanwhile, in the US,  nother very accomplished writer, Mike Carney from, has been fantastic in providing the US perspective and a whole lot more.  

And a massive thanks to everyone else who has contributed with a useful opinion or piece of wisdom. It’s all very much appreciated, and hopefully you feel that the end result has been worthwhile!