Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a newer water sport that is gaining in popularity every year. Some people predict it will take over kayaking as far as most popular water adventure activity. Stand up paddle boarding is abbreviated to SUP and uses a surf style board and a long paddle. It has also been described as a cross between canoeing and surfing.
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To propel the board across the water, you stand up on the board and paddle like a canoe. Participants can also sit on the board and paddle if desired. Transport Canada considers paddle boards to be a “human-powered pleasure craft” and with that comes requirements to carry on board certain safety equipment. Review the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide for details.
Naturally, for the most part, deciding what to wear on a stand-up paddle board is dependent on the weather conditions and your own comfort level. For most people who go out on the ocean or one of the region’s many lakes on a warm summer day, shorts and a t-shirt or bathing suit is appropriate. My friends who paddle on the ocean frequently love these long sleeved paddling tops and neoprene paddling pants. They've got UV protection so you don't get burned and dry quickly. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are highly recommended. Layered clothing and a wind breaker (this one is waterproof to protect from any spray) may be required on cooler days.
Remember that a lifejacket or PFD is required. A lifejacket is your best defence against the cold water and will provide more flotation than most PFDs. Ones made specifically for paddling sports like this one will be the most comfortable. Refer to Transport Canada Getting Started with Safe Boating.
The following local businesses provide equipment rentals, lessons and guided stand up paddle board tours. You can also check TourScanner for the best deals on outdoor activities.
Oak Bay Marina (in partnership with Ocean River Sports)
You’re going to need a stand-up paddle board – either inflatable or hard epoxy/fiberglass - and a paddle. If you are purchasing a board, factors such as portability, storage space, durability, performance and cost will help you determine which one is best for you. Inflatable boards (package deals like this are most economical option) are more durable than a hard board and better suited to people new to the sport. Local companies have just the right equipment and guidance for your skills.
Ideal weather for paddle boarding is air temperature that is warm enough to be out on the water but not too warm that you overheat. Other factors are the water temperature, tides and currents (get tide tables here), wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, lightning and fog.
Victoria experiences very little in the way of lightning and thunder but it is important to get off the water as quickly as possible if you see lightning.
As for our water temperature, the average daily temperature of the seas around Victoria BC range from 7.3°C (45.1°F) to 11.5°C (52.7°F).
Before going out on the water, be sure to check the conditions and forecast at Environment Canada. Local water sports enthusiasts head to BigWaveDave for weather information, wind reports, wind predictions and area webcams.
With our temperate climate, I’ve seen paddlers out throughout the year but the best time to go is April through October, weather permitting.
*Marine life viewing will vary depending on whether you paddle on a lake or the ocean.
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