SUP! Guide, basics, equipment – interview with instructor
June, tentative beginnings of summer, 4:00 in the morning. A quick coffee, a nimble closet change, pumping up the gear, a few communicative smiles. 3, 2, 1… All the magic of paddling at sunrise begins with the first dip of a foot in the lake. The water is pleasant, you can hear birds chatting and fish splashing, anglers’ boats are peeking through the mist. We sail. The prow of the board slowly cuts the perfectly smooth surface of the water, and from behind the massif of the Beskid Maly the shield of the sun begins to emerge. Taking a few deeper breaths. A new day is rising.
SUPing is an increasingly popular form of recreation on the water. As it turns out, “padling” offers a lot of freedom and the opportunity to rediscover already well-known places. About how and where to start the SUP adventure, with a certified instructor Dominica Glab talks Barbara Grubka. We write about how to pack for a multi-day rafting trip on SUP boards here:
photo. Barbara Grubka
Barbara Grubka: Before we get into specifics, tell us where the idea for this whole paddling thing, which no one had ever heard of a few years ago, even came from?
Dominika Glab: This is quite a funny story, because I don’t like swimming! Not in the sense that I don’t like swimming
in general, only swimming in a lake or river does not give me pleasure. When we went to the water
with family or friends, I was missing something other than kayaks, bikes and a mattress… I wanted to be in touch with nature, to get away from the hustle and bustle around me, to be on the water, but not in it! Once upon a time, I saw in some video clip a 60-year-old man sliding across the lake on a surfboard with a wooden paddle, and I thought, I want to do that too! In Poland at that time there were not too many opportunities in this subject yet. Being once in Pszczyna I came across a point where there was an opportunity to use, just a surfboard in a package with a curved paddleboard. I didn’t think long, and although it was mainly a struggle to stay on the board at the time, I fell in love with this form of communing with the water. As time went by, more and more equipment became available in Poland, I made my certification as an ISA instructor, which is the International Surfing and SUP Association recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and so little by little, over the course of 8 years I got to where I am now.
How to start in this case, since renting equipment is no longer a problem? Does everyone need a course under the guidance of an expert?
Definitely. It is worth approaching the subject with your head and let someone who has the right knowledge of the subject introduce you to this world. It’s like with any sport, you need to know it to practice it well and 100%. From the shore it may seem to us that it is super easy, what is it, some larger mattress, a paddle, someone stands and swims, no philosophy. Meanwhile, the first steps are enough and suddenly it turns out that it is not a piece of cake after all. Already at the beginning when trying to maintain balance, especially when standing up, the body starts playing tricks on us. We are nervous about falling into the water, that we do not know the lake, we tense our muscles and lock our heads. It’s very easy to get discouraged then, and in SUP, on the contrary, it’s all about loosening up, relaxing and enjoying it 100%. Another issue is technique and, above all, safety. The instructor will teach us how to maneuver the equipment and how to deal with difficult weather conditions, because it is not always the case that we have a flare on the lake and full sun. Sometimes conditions can change
from one minute to the next, and then we need to know how to behave in order to float safely from the middle of the lake to the shore, fighting the wind, the waves and at the same time maintaining balance. We don’t have a sail or a motor. On small lakes you can quickly feel confident, but it is enough to go to a larger body of water to quickly understand how dangerous elements are water and wind, which you can not turn off with a button. The technique of maneuvering and how to move on the board are then key skills on which our safety depends.
fot. Barbara Grubka
How much does it cost to train under the guidance of a certified instructor?
In Poland there are only 5 such Instructors and we have more or less standardized prices. In my case, training from scratch with individual selection of equipment is the cost of 100 zł for group classes and 150 zł for individual classes.
One-time classes are enough?
For some yes for others no. Especially people who block head need more time, say 2-3 lessons. On the third swim you can already see the calmness then. As the head starts to let go then automatically our body starts to cooperate and then we start a completely different job, no longer psychological, but sporting.
Have you ever had a case where a person who was panic-stricken afraid of the water just broke through on a SUP?
Yes, I taught a boy who was traumatized by drowning and actually succeeded! We had five lessons, where I gradually accustomed him to the water and to the swimming technique, and now he and his girlfriend have their own SUPs and the two of them are paddling on the lake. Space anxiety, fear of deep water, a lot of people are afraid at first, but I have not yet had such a case, which eventually could not be overcome. I also take care of the safety of the students through quality and well-chosen equipment, lifebelts, full care and as much time as the person needs.
fot. Barbara Grubka
So paddling is such a sport for everyone, I think correctly? To whom would you particularly recommend this form of recreation?
Totally everything! First of all, because SUP does not impose any restrictions on us, the decha does not ask about age, does not ask about our physical fitness, I mean here mainly more serious injuries or illnesses. I would even recommend practicing “suping” as part of rehabilitation, especially for people who are after knee injuries and other sports exclude them.
Ok, then if someone has already grasped the subject under the guidance of an instructor and screwed enough to want to invest in their equipment, what amounts should be prepared for? What to pay attention to?
Such a reasonable amount is ok. 2500 PLN, of course, plus or minus. At this price you can already buy a nice board that will serve us for years and sensible accessories. You yourself know how important is at least a pump that will not finish us off before the launch, or a paddle that will not be too heavy. Currently, manufacturers are increasingly adding carbon paddles to relieve the strain on our joints and shoulders, such as the. for filigree women is very important. We must remember that this equipment is supposed to work with us. The technology of construction, the number of layers, the way they are combined affects the weight, ease of assembly and maintenance. The easier we take care of the equipment, the longer it will serve us. Also very important is the backpack in which we pack the board. We can not always park the car right on the water, sometimes you have to walk a piece and not a small one or for example. by the sea to go down a steep cliff, and then not only the weight of all the equipment, but also the way we transport it, may turn out to be the key issue of the outing. We should also remember that the SUP board itself is selected individually depending on how we swim, where and what our dimensions are. It depends on how the board will behave on the water, which will later translate into comfort, stability
and safety. Here, too, the expert advice of the instructor will come in handy.
photo. Barbara Grubka
What are the techniques for swimming on a SUP? Is only the standing position allowed?
The name of the discipline is Stand Up Paddle, but I believe in the principle – let everyone find his own way to this sport, so that it gives him pleasure. If someone does not feel up to covering a distance of 10-15 km or going down a river, then chill out on the lake, relax your body, work on your balance, you can paddle even lying down. On the other hand, if someone feels that he has the strength and wants to feel the power of the paddle in the muscles, then he can really specific training for himself. Here you can also see a bit of an advantage of SUP over kayak, it gives you much more freedom and possibilities. How we will swim, standing, sitting or lying down is our individual matter, it is only important that in an emergency situation we know the basics and how to behave.
And where to swim in this case? Are there any places that you particularly recommend?
Everywhere. To begin with, I recommend sailing in familiar places and getting used to the board, but once we get the knack we can explore more and more, cover longer routes, lakes, rivers, seas… If the body of water is not a body of drinking water, if there are no prohibitions related to water quality or other restrictions, we pump the board and use it! Just remember to pay attention to the obstructions if you find yourself e.g. Within a nature reserve or park. It is worth checking if there is not currently a ban on e.g. Because of the breeding season. When planning a rafting trip on a river it is also worthwhile to take a route in advance, find out what water level we have, whether there are any temporary blockages, whether a lock will let us through, because not every lock lets SUPers through, etc. Well, and we must remember to know the basic rules and sailing signs in order not to create a danger for other users of the body of water.
Tell us more what we can take with us on SUP and I start packing.
What we want, you just need to remember about the displacement of the board. In addition to our weight, we still need to take into account the weight of our luggage, child or dog, and arrange with all this so that we do not deprive ourselves of maneuverability. Special touring boards are now available on the market – ideal for wild and less wild trips. Their great advantage is a sizable luggage area, such special rubber bands. Increasingly, manufacturers are mounting them on the bow and stern so that we can distribute our luggage evenly and have full comfort of steering. SUP trips are becoming popular and we already have quite a wide range of accessories to help on such trips.
Amazing. That is, from quietly admiring the sunrise on the lake we have already sailed into the wild rushes and are planning to spend the night under the open sky?
It looks like this. SUPing is really a whole range of possibilities, which in Poland is developing very dynamically. You know that we have a lot of competitions both at the national and international level? In September, the world championships will be held in Gdynia, we have our Polish team, also it’s not just chill by the lake.
photo. Barbara Grubka
What does the competition consist of? Swimming for time?
Yes. There are different categories, sprint or 200m run, technical race or distance ok. 5 km with dodging buoys with a special technique called pivot, which is very spectacular and long distance, depending on the imagination of the organizer, but it can be assumed that min. 10 km. The competition categories allow both professionals and amateurs, so anyone can join and feel the spirit of competition. Such events are also a great opportunity to learn about the sport, meet people who have been sailing for years, gain new knowledge. Often organizers also provide opportunities to test equipment. These are really cool events, I encourage you to participate!
You are competing in a competition?
Yes! That year I won my first sprint gold. This season I have also already passed the warm-up and officially ranked 32nd in the world ranking. At the beginning of June we are going to Warsaw for the Wawa Race, this is one of the stages of the Polish Championships, and then we will see what happens next.
It promises to be interesting! Thank you for the interview, we will keep our fingers crossed!
Welcome to OM in the traditional version. In the last issue you will find an account of SUP board rafting:
OM #18 (fot. outdoormagazine.pl)