Paddleboard Tips for Big People - How to Climb on your Board


Occasionally I get students who are either large in frame or overweight. Of these, a few can't climb back on their board without assistance due to fatigue, lower upper body strength or the shape of their belly which hinders climbing on a floating 5-6" (Tower boards can be 8" thick) board from water level.

We use a flip rescue to help folks back on and have developed a few other board mounting techniques as well.

In searching for 'big people paddleboard rescue', I came across only one YouTube video on the subject.  This guy (below) developed a smart system to get himself out of the water effectively, thus allowing him to continue to paddle without fear of not getting back on.  



I had already developed a stirrup system but his knotted rope system is a great addition. I made one and tested it out, works great!  Downside is whether it'll work in wind and waves as you're limited to just the back end of the board. Doing so from the side immediately flips the board.

Stirrup Design - The stirrup can be made using a car rack strap 1" wide or thick rope. Something that will support your weight. Keep it stored in your lifejacket (I like pockets) or on your board attached to a tail loop, board handle or in outfitting on the nose. Make a loop out of it so you can attach one end to the back of the board and the other end in the water to step up on. Make sure the length is enough so your step isn't too hard to get on.  Test it prior to going out in deep water. Always wear a leash to keep yourself connected to the board. Even I wear a leash on flat calm water. Don't like standing on your leash? Attach it to the waist strap of your C02 Pfd or side straps on your vest Pfd. 

Connection of Stirrup to Board - Attachment points for the knotted rope/strap only works if you have you have a fabric or loose handle.  You can attach one (if you have a sunken handle) or improve yours by using a handle such as this one by NSI.  The stirrup by itself can be attached by the leash plug string or, tail board handle or D-Ring (use parachute cord or string up to 4mm thick).

Use of Stirrup - Try one leg in the stirrup, then if that doesn't give you enough support, use both feet to get on. Adjust the stirrup length to create the best step level. A car rack strap may be easiest as you can use the metal clamp to tighten or loosen the length. Wash often to keep the metal mechanism operating correctly.  Remember to attach the the very tail of the board, side will flip it.

Tip: Kick the leg not in the stirrup to help leverage yourself on the board. Whenever you climb on a board, kick one or both feet to float raise your body to the water surface - while pulling on.  If you're worried about falling off and having to struggle to get on, you can injure yourself falling on a fiberglass or plastic board. It's safer to fall off away from our board (fall flat, especially in shallow water).

Test it out in shallow water before you go further out to make sure it works. Try different things and report back to me if you find a better solution. I tried to create a stirrup with my leash but couldn't get the right leverage with a straight leash and a coiled leash was too bouncy. 

Any questions give me a holler: salmonbaypaddle@gmail.com / 206.465.7167
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Comments

Brian Robbins said…
Funny video. Be sure to keep that paddle on your board though Tower paddles don't float, at least not for long.
Brian, good points, agree that you should never let go of the paddle. But if you do, get on the board first then prone (on belly) paddle to the paddle. You could stick the paddle handle in the handle (if the handle is a grab loop) then climb on. Or stick in outfitting bungie on the nose, etc.