You’ve just bought a new stand up paddleboard (SUP), and it’s perfect. Long and sleek, flawless and gleaming. Now, you want it to stay that way for as long as possible. What do you do?

Here are some tips for how to use and take care of your paddleboard to extend its longevity and ensure your safety.

Storage and Maintenance
Never sit or stand on a SUP while it is on land, as this will damage the board. Always store the paddleboard on its edge, or with the fin up, in a shaded spot, out of the wind. Hose down the board and paddle after use. Do not store your board in a board bag in the full sun for extended periods of time. This will “cook” your board, much like it was in a microwave, leading to dents all over the surface.

Know the Laws
When using a SUP in the Florida Keys, the Coast Guard requires all paddlers to have a life jacket and whistle on board at all times. Children 14 and under must wear their jacket at all times.

Where to Position Yourself on the Paddleboard
The handle in the center of the deck also marks the center of the paddleboard. While standing or kneeling, place your knees or feet on opposite sides of this handle, about shoulder width apart.

Launching and Standing Up
Start in knee deep water, as shallower water can damage the find. Mount the board and place your knees on opposite sides of the handle. If you are launching near a dock, boat, or other large object, be sure to paddle in a kneeling position until you are far enough away that you will not collide with it if you fall while attempting to stand. To stand, look straight ahead rather than down at your feet. Continue to look straight and while holding the paddle in both hands, rise up with the paddle across your body. Once standing, begin paddling (see below for paddling technique).

Proper Paddle Use
Adjust the paddle so that the handle just touches the bottom of your hand when your arm is fully extended above your head. Place one of your hands about one-third of the way down the shaft of the paddle and one hand on the handle of the paddle. Look at the paddle blade, which is bent. It might seem like you should place the bend facing backward to scoop up water, but this is less effective. The bend should be forward to enable you to catch a little more water upon insertion.

When you paddle on the left side of the board, you hold the paddle handle with your right hand, and then switch hands for the other side. Fully extend the paddle in front of you, then place it to the side of the board and in the water. Smoothly pull the blade of the paddle through the water. The closer you keep the blade to the board, the straighter you paddle, but you do no want the blade to actually touch the board. Keep your arms slightly bent, bending at the waist. Avoid the tendency to use your back muscles! Think of it as drawing your body and board toward the paddle, rather than pushing the water backward, and your muscles will follow.

When the blade reaches a point that is parallel to your body, lift it up from the water and put it to the front again. You may wish to paddle several times on one side before alternating hands and sides. This will vary depending upon wind conditions, currents, and if you are attempting to turn the stand up paddleboard. If you become tired, or the wind increases, you can kneel and paddle. In an emergency, lay down on the paddle and use your hands to propel the board.

Recovering from a Fall
Climb onto the board on your stomach by throwing an arm and leg onto the board simultaneously. Use your hands to paddle over and retrieve your paddle.

Dismount Near Shore
When approaching a shore line, kneel down before reaching shore and dismount in knee deep water so the board fin does not hit bottom, just as you did when first launching.

REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN!