by Mariepier Bastien

Rules and Safety 101 in Stand Up Paddle

Safety and regulations in paddle board: they should not be neglected. If certain laws exist in terms of lifejackets, other considerations are just as important to ensure safe and secure practice in Stand Up Paddle (SUP). To make your life simple, here are the applicable rules and regulations, as well as some words of advice. 

IT'S THE LAW! 

Because rules in SUP are sometimes vague and information is shared, we will keep it simple. Take note: the rules and regulations of TRANSPORT CANADA regarding stand up paddleare based on those of human-propelled boats (less than 6 meters long). These rules state that: 

A person must wear a lifejacket or a personal flotation device of an appropriate size. If a person is wearing his/her lifejacket aboard, the only other items that are required onboard are: 

  • a sound device; 
  • a waterproof flashlight if the person is travelling at night or during periods with limited visibility 

    If a person is not wearing their lifejacket (despite the requirement to have one onboard at all times) and has it placed on their board instead, he/she will need to have the following equipment onboard: 

    • their flotation device on the board; 
    • a floating catch rope; 
    • a sound 

    It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing for those Instagram pictures or the most ideal for tanning, but it is the law and in our opinion, it makes a lot of sense! If statistics say that 8 out of 10 drowning occurrences are caused by the absence of a floatation device or poor adjustment of a lifejacket: let’s be careful!

    THE LIFEJACKET: WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE? 

    As the personal flotation device (PFD) is mandatory in SUP and we strongly suggest that you wear one, we would also like to mention that it can facilitate rescuing in case of uneasiness and towing in case of distress.  

    Now, amongst the large variety of PFDs, it is easy to get lost. One thing is for sure; there exist many different lifejackets no matter what your budget or preferred type. 

    Kayak or Paddle Sport Type 

    A PFD with a specific cut ensuring great mobility, suitable for different body types and featuring several pockets allowing you to store whistles, flashlights and other accessories. An excellent option for those who wish to use it often and for long expeditions. 

    Inflatable Waist Bag 

    Small inflatable waist bag ideal for paddlers who don’t want the hassle of a foam PFD. Features a floatability superior to that of most foam PFDs and can be easily inflated by pulling on the specified cord in one quick shot. 

    Example: MINIMALIST INFLATABLE BELT PACK

    NOTE : If you are using the waist bag, you are obliged to wear it. You cannot simply let it sit on your board.

    Photo : Annie-Claude Roberge

    Standard Type 

    It is the lifejacket that is the most accessible, for any type of budget ($20 to $300). This is the one that you can find at the majority of stores in large quantities. Safe and visible, it normally dries quite quickly, but limits your paddle movements on the water. With its adjustable strap system, it can be adapted to any body type. It is a great option for the cottage or to be used by multiple people. 

    Example: KHIMERA DUAL FLOTATION PFD FOR PADDLE BOARD

    WEATHER AND WINDS 

    In paddle board, the wind is an element that we must concern ourselves with. Just like the current of a river, the direction of the wind can either facilitate or slow down your glide. Therefore, don’t hesitate to check out the weather predictions, paying particular attention to the direction and speed of the wind. 

    DRESS ACCORDINGLY 

    Spring, summer, fall, winter – anytime is a good time to jump in the water. If it is obvious that an outing mid-July must be accompanied by a good old tube of Coppertone, then similarly, an outing in the middle of winter should be accompanied by neoprene clothing or a wetsuit that is guaranteed to keep you warm. 

    To learn more about this and to find out which wetsuit is necessary depending on the water temperature, read our blog on how to do SUP in winter.

    HYDRATATION ET NUTRITION 

    In paddle board, even though it’s easy to jump in the water and cool off, when the sun is beaming and heat waves are present, it is important to stay hydrated. Because it can be inconvenient to bring water and snacks onboard, the majority of our SUPs include bungee elastics where you can easily secure a bottle of water and a bag of nuts (or Tostitos, if you prefer). 

    WARN LOVED ONES 

    If you leave to head out alone on the water, we strongly suggest you advise a member of your entourage. Without worrying him/her, it is always much safer to advise a loved one of our departure, our arrival and the location where we have decided to adventure ourselves. 

    It is also a good idea to bring a cell phone with you that you can store in a waterproof pouch. You probably won’t use it, but it will be there just in case. 

    Paddleboarding is not dangerous. Far from it! However, just like any other nautical sport, we must conform to the applicable laws, wear a PFD and make use of our common sense. This will prevent many bobos or an eventual fine! 

    To learn even more about nautical safety, don’t hesitate to contact us or to consult the Transport Canada website.