Inflatable SUPs - All the Rage but Sometimes Difficult to Get Back On

I love everthing I see about the inflatable SUPs coming out.  They don't require a car rack, are great for folks living in apartments, commuting, travelling for business, or who don't want to or can't carry a heavy fiberglass or plastic board.  The better products are as stiff as epoxy boards, equally as fast but offer a soft landing if you fall on the deck.

A downside I recently came across recently is being able to get back on the 6" thick inflatables.  I had a student in moving water who is a good paddler but couldn't get back on her board without assistance.  She had recently bought the board, had been on it a few times but only getting on in shallow water.  After falling off in deep water and in a river environment she required a flip rescue the first time, and a tow the second into a shallow eddy (calmer water).

The difference between an inflatable and a fiberglass/epoxy boards is the foil.  Foil is the shape of the board if seen from the side or profile view. Notice hard boards are thin in the nose, thick in the standing area then thin in the tail.  This means if the standing area is too thick to climb over (some are 5" thick), you can move to the side rear or tail which has less floatation and can be pushed down in the water easier to get your body on top.

Bigger or less flexible paddlers will find the tail area an easier way to get back on.  Inflatable boards don't have foil.  They're they same thickness from nose to tail. Some inflatable tails have a slight rocker rising up thus making it even more difficult to climb on top of.

What to do about it?  

- Should you get that 6" board you're been looking at?  Sure.  But with a friend nearby in a calm area near shore, try to get on.   Kick your feet as if you're swimming to rise your body to the surface while simultaneously pulling yourself up on the deck. Recommended before going out in open water.

- Figure out a stirrup system to get on the board.  This could be done with your leash or another piece of webbing or strap stored on your board or PFD.

- Too difficult to get on? Get a 4" board, compensate for stability by getting one that is wider.

- Flip Rescue.  Can't get a friend on?  Learn the flip rescue.  Practice to make it efficient when you need it - especially if you're an instructor.

Note lack of Foil tail to Nose (board thickness).


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