Wind vs SUP...The War Is On!

Since the inception of SUP, the sport has found it’s place alongside windsurfing for many of us. But what sport reigns supreme? Surely windsurfing still has the edge over our younger, less skilled cousin? Tez Plavenieks joins Boards to pit windsurfing against SUP in the next installment of SUP Wars!

Sarah Bibby
Sarah Bibby
Droping in - Tez Plavenieks
Droping in – Tez Plavenieks

The very fact that I’m scribbling about stand up paddle boarding on a windsurf website speaks volumes. As fans of a good blow, something so seemingly mundane as SUP might have absolutely naff all appeal to windies but with a pastime that is, for most, utterly reliant on the inclement weather, having a backup option to your regular saltwater activity is no bad thing.

Loco stand up paddle boarding recently challenged me to come up with a funky little concept for their blog that was a bit different. The result is a tongue in cheek, good humoured series of articles where a seemingly contrasting pastime is dragged kicking and screaming to face off against stand up paddle boarding – SUP wars.

It’s only right that I should line up a bout between windsurfing and SUP, as there’s no question which discipline will come out victorious – is there…? Let battle commence!

SUP?

For those who’ve had their head in the sand and aren’t familiar with stand up paddle boarding – think oversized surfboard, pilot standing tall, propelling his (or her) self through the water using an elongated single blade paddle.

The versatility of stand up ensures anywhere with access to water is potentially ripe for SUP shenanigans. Surf spots, secluded inlets, estuaries, canals, lakes and even whitewater venues are ‘game on’ for dabbling with a paddle.

Loco SUP - pic Tez Plavenieks
Loco SUP – pic Tez Plavenieks
Windsurfing kit ready to go!
Windsurfing kit ready to go! Image credit Si Crowther.

So paddle when it’s flat, sail when windy, yeah?

Chances are, at first, you’ll buy a ‘log’ to make use of flat days when there’s no puff or to get some ‘surfing’ in the bag at your local break. If this is all you ever do with your new toy then fair play – but there’s a whole stand up world out there waiting to be discovered…

As you progress you’ll become aware that SUP is actually a great choice when it’s windy – WHAT? I hear you scream – cue F’ing, blinding and laptops being hurled out of windows.

Granted, there’s no better feeling than rocking up at your local, hurriedly rigging a 4.2m, blasting full power into a pitching wave and skying a big one. After all, this sensation is one of the reasons that we (myself included) are so addicted to windsurfing.

However, I will stick my head above the parapet and admit that it’s good to mix things up and during certain blowy bouts I find myself grabbing the barn door and ‘sweeping’ off on a downwinder.

Down what?

Paddling away from your launch spot, the breeze on your back huffing you along, catching ‘runners’ or rolling swell is essentially what a downwind run is all about. It’s also where the synergy of the two sports kicks in.

Skills we glean from windsurfing come into play when ‘doing a downwinder’. Balance, being able to read water states, spot gusts and react accordingly are all cross over techniques that riders can really only develop through being involved with wind power sports.

Having said that, the paddle skills you’ll require is something you definitely won’t learn through windsurfing.

Waves

Another area where the two disciplines cross paths is in wave environments. Both SUP and windsurfing are amazing fun when you’re presented with a few lumps to bash. There’s nothing quite like hacking the top off a thick lip or throwing buckets as you squirt the tail into a hollow section – as many will agree.

Synergy comes as both sports require the rider to grip a cylindrical shaft (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and use this propulsion (the paddle with SUP and sail with windsurfing) to aid full G turns. It’s even possible to punt aerials on a stand up paddle board – with a little perseverance.

Loco rider Doug Paton out for an evening float on the 9'5
Loco rider Doug Paton out for an evening float on the 9’5″.

Flat water

Windsurfing definitely holds its own at flat water venues – when it’s blowy. Stand up becomes uninspiring for many compared to blasting full chat across glassy water. If you’re the bendy type who loves banging out freestyle moves then SUP won’t even be on your radar if there’s even a hint of a gnat’s fart in the air.

When the wind faffs off it may be a different story?

Lazy beach days

If you choose to buy a Loco SUP then lazy days at the beach with the family become all the more enticing. You’ll rack up shed loads of brownie points, perfect for cashing in during the next nukin’ spell.  SUP is also the perfect way to get the wife and kids into some form of watersport and won’t require a divorce settlement if you choose to do the teaching…

Exploring your coastline on a SUP is perfect. With equipment that allows you to squeeze into tight spaces, such as caves and rock gullies, you’ll discover a whole new side to your local coastal haunts.

Drive Grom
Enjoying a family windsurf session!

And the winner is…

It’s a toughie for sure in terms of which sport will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of this particular SUP wars rumble. For many who don’t already own a stand up paddle board windsurfing is the clear ‘Sebastian Vettel’ but for those who are fully bitten by both bugs, the choice is harder. I’m going to sit on the fence with this one and declare SUP vs windsurfing a draw (groans from the audience).

By having ‘tools for the job’ you can head to your ‘put in’ spot safe in the knowledge that you’ll be afloat whatever the conditions. No more skunkings and squiffy forecasts and fewer excuses to not get out there having fun.

If you’ve yet to try stand up paddle boarding then now’s maybe the time to get onboard…

Loco stand up paddle boarding is a home grown UK SUP company based out of north east England. Actively pushing the sport from a grass roots level, head honcho Joe Thwaites is both a keen windsurfer and experienced paddle boarder. Keep an eye on their website for regular blog updates, demo news and product information.  Loco SUP – get sectionedhttp://www.loco-sup.com/

Tez Plavenieks is a freelance watersports writer, journalist and content manager who produces regular blog posts, articles, features and stories for a variety of online and print outletshttp://tezplavenieks.com/

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