Choosing the right wave riding/ paddling equipment – By Ivan van Vuuren

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is one of the fastest growing Watersports in the world. Cindy Crawford is doing it; Kelly Slater is doing it as well as many top kiters and windsurfers around the world.

It is without a doubt one of the best forms of Cross- Training as it works the Core, legs and upper body all at the same time- plus it’s tons of fun.

Now when starting, there are 101 different configurations as far as fins, boards, paddles, deck pads and leashes. So let’s take a quick look at some options that will get you out on the water with the most amount of fun.

Lets start with the big boy first, or what we’ll refer to as a “Cruiser”. This is a board in the 11ft 6- 12ft6 category. Suggest that it be at least 30 inches wide as this will allow added stability especially for first time riders. Good for riders weighing over 100 kgs. Don’t let the size put you off if you want to go out and have some fun, nose riding or cross stepping these boards are ideal. On smaller days this can be a great tool in the quiver and when the wind picks up great for down winders.

As you progress, or when the surf picks up to say 4-6 ft faces, you’re going to want to have a board that will be able to hold a rail and not nosedive as much as the larger “Cruiser” type boards. So here you have a few options ranging between 9ft6- 10ft6 boards. Much of this depends on your weight, for example if you are 100kg+, you’re going to want a board with more volume (10’6x 30 inches wide), and if you’re a lighter rider, you’ll be able to get away with a smaller (9ft6 x 28 inch wide) board.

In this range Tail configurations and fin set ups will change between, swallow, round and square with quad, thruster twin or single fins. Experiment to see what works best on your board.

Board designs are changing daily and with this so are the sizes with different manufacturers developing smaller boards. These are generally between 8ft- 9ft and 30 inches wide, more “fish” type of design. Great option if you’re going to be riding smaller waves and want something that turns quick. These boards are sometimes more unstable and can be harder to ride especially in choppier waters so possibly a good second board option.

So you’re up and ready for some larger surf. Big wave guns are an option and range between 11ft3 and 13ft, These boards are narrower (27-28 inches wide) so harder to ride but allow for better control especially on big wave faces where there is more apparent wind and larger chop on the face.

With the sport being so new, what is in today might be outdated tomorrow as footstraps are being added and riders experimenting with interesting shapes. Bottom line is that if it floats you, then get out there and make it work and have fun.

Ivan van Vuuren standing with some of his favourite SUP equipment
Boards From Left to Right:
7ft10x30inch Coreban Footstrap model.
9ftx27inch JL Custom Ripper
10ftx28inch Coreban “Rockett” All rounder
11ft3x27inch JL Custom Big Wave gun
11ft6x30inch Coreban “Xpression” Paddles:
Coreban Glass “Hybrid”
Coreban Carbon “Hardcore”


There are about as many paddles on the market as there are boards, so the wide range can easily confuse the average customer. There are wood paddles, fiberglass, carbon, plastic and aluminium paddles. Each one with its own price point which will ultimately determine your paddle of choice. Carbon is generally stiffer and will be stronger but more expensive. Fiberglass shafts are an excellent option as they can be strong enough yet quite a bit less expensive. Blade shape and the blades angle are the most important aspects. We suggest a blade that has about a 12 degree angle with a clean profile. Width is once again personal preference and range between 7and 9 1/2 inches. Narrower blade will allow for quicker strokes and wider blades stronger more powerful strokes LENGTH- Rule of thumb is to have a paddle that is 6 to 8 inches above your head.

Deck Pads

Deck pads are a great way of saving your car from wax and at the same time offering comfort on the feet and more grip depending on the type of grip. Some riders prefer the old school wax option which is totally acceptable and great to feel the board especially when cross stepping.


Choosing the right leash is as important as choosing the right board- A leash that is too short could result in the board shooting back after a wipeout and piercing and at the same time prevents you from getting up on the front when nose-riding. A leash too thin will snap under pressure due to the added weight of the larger SUP boards. So we recommend purchasing a leash minimum 10ft x ¼ inch.

So once again, get out there and experiment. Mix it up and be open to trying different styles of riding, be it on an old windsurfer board using a plastic paddle or a hot new hybrid with top of the line carbon paddles, enjoy the ride and be safe.

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The Art of Stand Up Paddle Surfing – By Ivan van Vuuren

Machado’s doing it, Fanning’s doing it, even Slater is doing it standing up. So what is this new ancient sport that is taking the world by storm? Is it cool or is it dorky? Is it for ou toppies or can anyone do it?

These are just some of the questions that are surrounding what is said to be the fastest growing watersport in the world.

Beach boy surfing, or otherwise known as Stand Up Paddle Surfing, originates back to the early 60’s when Waikiki beach boys like Duke and Leroy AhChoy started paddling around on big surfboards to take pictures of the tourists. It soon caught on with the other beachboys and Waikiki was packed with people of all shapes and sizes stand up paddling.

Tradition was soon to be replaced as the 70’s high performance era arrived in full force. Colorful shortboards, neon wetsuits, along with media hype and big sponsorships quickly replaced the art of traditional long board and Beachboy Surfing.

Tradition was soon to be replaced as the 70’s high performance era arrived in full force. Colorful shortboards, neon wetsuits, along with media hype and big sponsorships quickly replaced the art of traditional long board and Beachboy Surfing.

But like many of Hawaii’s volcanoes this dormant art form was soon to resurface with an even greater explosion. An innovative crew on Maui called the Strapped Team consisting of watermen Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, started searching for new ways to express themselves on the water. At the same time Oahu’s West Shore boys, Brian Keaulana, & Mel Puu were stand up paddling as a form of cross training for tow in surfing into big waves. Laird and Dave literally jumped on this idea and soon the world was exposed to Stand Up Paddle surfing. American Express commercials, DVD’s and movies had the Strapped team riding waves using a paddle and big boards.

Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Now I have to be honest, when Laird first paddled past me 5 years ago while surfing at Hookipa on Maui, I had mixed reactions. First, he looked big and intimidating standing on his 12 foot tank. Secondly, he looked totally awkward standing in a parallel stance and getting klapped as waves broke in front of him. But finally as he paddled way out and started catching all the biggest and best sets I knew it was time to lay my pride aside and attempt Stand Up Paddle Surfing.

With the 12 ft Surftech Softop being the only board big enough and available at the time, the stage was set for me to quickly conquer this sport and move on back to regular shortboard surfing. Having a background of windsurfing for 20 years, surfing for 30 plus tow in surfing and kiteboarding how difficult could it really be to catch some waves standing up? Paddle in hand and standing like a frog I set out to sea to master this interesting sport. After hours on the water, countless falls, bruised shins, and a crushed ego, I eventually managed to catch a wave. But something was different as I cruised down the face of this wave. For the first time I experienced a new sense of waveriding; the challenge of catching waves on a big board and feeling the roots of tradition flowing through my veins all in one instance was all it took to get hooked. Five years and thousands of waves have passed since that day and slowly the mystery that lay hidden on what makes Stand up paddle surfing so unique is being unveiled.

Core Workout

A big word these days is the word CORE. The center of your body, what everything revolves around. If your core is strong, your body will function better. In surfing a strong core will allow for powerful moves, airs and the opportunity of pushing the limits and actually pulling off moves that seem impossible. Stand up paddle surfing is the ultimate core workout. Whether it’s doing a 10 km down winder or just paddling around the dam, legs, stomach, arms and back muscles are all working overtime to maintain balance.

Stand Up Paddle Surfing – Family Fun

Remember the days when windsurfing hit the scene in the 80’s. Almost every car had a board on the roof. Moms were doing it. Kids were trying and even the dog and cat seemed to be in photos of people all sizes “doing it, standing up”. Well in much the same way, stand up paddle surfing has brought that same element of family fun as now anyone can “surf”. So definitely a great tool to add to your quiver to keep your girlfriend stoked at the beach.


The sport has absolutely opened up new avenues to paddle further distances and explore reefs and waves that were unreachable before. The ability to paddle over 5 kilos in one session is one of the great aspects that the sport allows, the opportunity of riding waves without crowds and finding new secret spots.


Without a doubt once you master the sport of Stand Up Paddle surfing, your wave count will increase ten fold. An average session that consists of 8 waves all of a sudden becomes 30. Less time sitting around waiting for waves and more time riding. This is probably a good time to mention wave etiquette. Golden rules- stay away from crowded areas and don’t be a wave hog. Realise that you have extra paddling power so don’t act like a kook and take every wave that comes through.

No Limits

Whether it’s doing a hang-ten on a 12 foot board, tucking in the barrel on an 8foot fish, or charging your secret spot at 30 foot. The sport has no boundaries. Guys are already riding JAWS and Mavericks, getting barreled at Pipe and shredding Backdoor.

The big question remains “where is the sport going?” Olympics or short term fad?

Regardless of the future, and before you decide to tear it apart, Stand Up paddle surfing is at least worth a try. The Challenge, the workout, and the essence of experiencing the roots of surfing all in one package- Most of all – Enjoy the ride!

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