If you would like learn to stand up paddle board (SUP), then it is well worth getting some tuition. It may look easy – and seriously is not that hard – but as I found during this review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton, a few pointers here and there make a huge difference.
Paddle boarding is the latest watersport to take the world by storm. As it does not require wind, waves or expert skills it is hugely accessible. It is great for fitness, and very versatile. You can SUP in a river, sea, lake, pond, canal, mangroves and you can even surf or white water paddle board.
I had been meaning to have a go for quite a while, but having a kids had put all new adventure pastimes on the back burner. But then my wife suggested we try SUP together, that it could be a hobby we get into and eventually enjoy as a family.
Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton
No sooner had she suggested it and I had booked Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton with Lagoon watersports. We went for a two hour group lesson for complete beginners costing £51.50. Having surfed and kayaked quite a bit in the past, I felt more confident going into the lessons than my slightly water-phobic wife.
Fortunately the lagoon is only waist deep, so when you take a dip (which you will) you are never out of your depth. This also meant that the water is warmer than the sea, always a bonus in the UK.
To begin we were kitted out with wetsuits, booties and life jackets. We were then each given a paddle that was adjusted to the correct length for your height, and a beginner board – these tend to be more stable then the more advanced ones.
The maximum group size for the Hove Lagoon SUP lessons is six people. These SUP courses are very popular and ours was fully booked. Our group was an eclectic mix of people, a real cross section of society demonstrating the broad appeal of the sport.
Standing on an SUP
The first thing we were taught was how to get on. Getting in from the side of the lagoon you put your paddle across the board and kneel onto the centre of the SUP. Once you got your balance you go up onto one leg and then stand on both.
Interestingly rather than standing in a surf stance with one foot in front of the other you keep them parallel, roughly shoulder width apart. About half the people in the group found the balance came naturally, the others took a little longer to get it – most avoided falling in straight away.
The key, as with all board sports is bending the knees. If you stand straight on the board the tiniest movement can send you in. But stay loose with knees bent and you can adjust your weight to compensate for movement making it easier to maintain balance.
How to paddle
The next step was to start paddling. One hand goes at the top of the paddle and the other on the shaft approximately shoulder width below the top hand. The paddle it shaped so there is a front and a back – it’s pretty obvious when using it but keep the angle pointing away from you.
When paddling rather than pulling the blade through the water the action is more like pulling yourself past the blade. You keep your bottom arm rigid at a right angle, and use your top hand to push and pull the blade through. This is more stable and efficient as you’re using muscles throughout your body rather than just your arms.
To keep going straight you need to swap sides every few strokes, remembering to swap the position of your hands.
Turning an SUP
To turn is simply achieved by twisting your torso in the direction you want to go. At the same time paddle on the other side of the board, sweeping it out wider towards the tail and the board will move in the direction you are facing.
You can also reverse paddle to turn more quickly. Again turn your torso in the direction you want to go but this time backward paddle on the same side.
With both turning styles the more you bend your knees and dynamically shift your weight the more stable you are and the easier it becomes.
Advance maneuvers for beginners
With the simple maneuvers complete next up were some more advanced tips. First up was how to SUP faster. This is achieved through bending your knees more with your stroke and using your entire body to pull through.
Next we did some advanced turns by moving towards the back of the board so the front tip comes out of the water. You then reverse paddle and the board swings around very quickly. It was at this point I took my first dip!
Combining all the skills we had learnt we were then set goals, such as turning around a buoy and racing a circuit around the lagoon. We also tried spinning on the SUP (it stays still and you keep turning until you fall in), and had a go at team SUP on a large board.
Review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons
Overall the Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton was two hours of great fun. The Lagoon Watersports teaching was a combination of group instruction, with one-to-one time to help you improve at your own level.
Towards the end of the lesson our instructor could see that I was enjoying going fast, so he swapped my beginner board for his more advanced one. It was much less stable, but once I got the hang of it a lot easier to maneuver and a lot quicker.
During this review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton I am pleased to say I was very impressed by the facilities at Lagoon Watersports. There are large, clean changing rooms with nice hot showers. Plus there is a cafe overlooking the lagoon that is not too expensive.
At the end of the lesson you receive a little certificate to show you’ve passed the basic SUP skills on flat water. You need this to hire an SUP on the lagoon. The next level is to get out on the sea and pass the open water skills – the instructor said I was ready for this without any more practice.
To conclude this review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton I’d say it is a great experience. Not only do you learn new skills, but you get a thorough work out and have a lot of fun. I am hoping to build on this introduction to SUP and get the whole family involved in years to come.
If this review of Hove Lagoon SUP lessons in Brighton has you itching to try paddle boarding then you can book a two hour lesson at Lagoon Watersports for just £51.50 per person: www.lagoon.co.uk