The basics needed...
For now, the key items you need to operate safely are as follows:
- Paddle board
- Paddle (adjustable is a great option)
- PFD (Personal Flotation Device)
- Legrope or leash as its known.
TIP: If you can buy all 4 at the same time, you may get a deal and save some cash!
Go big is the simple answer. Going too small first time up will give you an un-nerving experience making progress very hard, more often or not, very off putting and most people give up. Get advice from your local shop as to what size board you need.
What units are they measured in?
Most commonly here in New Zealand, boards are measured in imperial units (feet and inches) and volume in Litres (L).
How much volume and width is needed?
As a basic guide and for your first board, based on your a beginner with no prior experience, we would recommend a board 2.25 x your body weight, with the answer being in Litres.
i.e, for a average person weighing 80kgs, then multiply by 2.25 gets to 180L.
Remember stability is also in width of the board, so avoid going to narrow first.
A good starter width for an average 80kgs person would be around 32" or slightly wider.
NOTE: the heavier you are the slightly wider you should go. The same would also apply if you were smaller and lighter, i.e 60 kgs woman, around 135L and 30" wide.
The length of board again should not be too short being your 1st board. Based on the above examples, a 60kg woman would have a minimum length of 10'0ft or longer.
For a guy weighing 100kg in proportion to weight, look at around 11'0 plus.
Remember: the bigger and longer the board, the more heavier it will be, so now is a good time to pick up some boards to see if you can lift on and off the roof of your car?
Being your 1st paddle, get an adjustable one so you can mess around with different lengths to work out what works for you before spending more money. With paddles there are many different sizes and shapes, so unsure of which, ask for a "medium please" or something around the 88" SQ inch. Going to big is not good, unless you have the mussels to drive a big blade?
Smaller petite women, will need a smaller paddle around the 83" SQ (small).
Paddles come in a variety of constructions, stay away from alloy paddles, they are normally the heaviest by far. A good fiberglass one would be middle of the range and most cost effective and durable for now.
A Personal Flotation Device (is currently the law) and recommended for flat water paddling. PFD's come in a variety of options, from the cheapest being the over the head type that have constant buoyancy. These generally are maintenance free and come in bright colors so you can be seen easily.
Another type would be the belt options. This is a normally a lifejacket with a gas canister inside and when needed, a light pull on the yellow toggle will inflate the jacket.
Remember: PFD's are not required in surf conditions.
Leashes come in many different forms. Use a coiled leash for river paddling and racing (knee cluff), and a straight leash for all other applications including surfing (ankle cluff).
There are 2 types, one that connects around the top part of your leg, just under your knee (knee cluff), and the other around your ankle (ankle cluff).
Leash length should be roughly same length as your board or longer, and make sure your leash is suitable for paddle boarding, a surfing one, is allot thinner and may break easily, so be warned.