Winter is Coming

This is an account from our very own Scott Knorp who co-owns our Glide Paddlesports!

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There is much to love about breaking your SUP out in the wintertime: no crowds, invigorating air, and little chance of a sunburn.  You will want to be properly prepared as we outlined in an earlier article this year.  For me, it’s the winter months are an exciting time to SUP because you can never be sure exactly what you are in for.

I take all the normal precautions that we recommend for all weather conditions: I wear a PFD, make sure I’m leashed to my board and protect my cell phone in a waterproof case that floats.  

I also make sure that I’ve got a pretty good idea about what the weather is going to do and how cold the water is.  Knowing the water temperature helps me determine how quickly I’ll need to get out of the water if I fall in and have chosen not to wear a wet or dry suit. 

If the water is icing up, I will not take chances and will throw on the dry suit.  I also change my paddle habits to keep my SUP within 20 feet of the shoreline so that I can get swim to land quickly if I fall in. 

winter paddle boarding

If the conditions are windy, I’ll have a little extra “pep in my step” as I head out to my local lake.  Over the years, I’ve learned how much wind is manageable and how much is just ridiculous.  

I’m reminded of a time when the wind was quite strong and the only people on the lake were kiteboarders.  One seemed intent on taunting me as I struggled to get 15 feet off the shore before the wind would push me right back where I started.  After he had done 5 gleeful circles around me, I decided to tuck my tail between my legs and head home in a state of complete exhaustion.

inflatable paddle board

It’s important to double check your equipment before heading out in the winter and paddling with a buddy could be a lifesaving decision. I always make certain that my fin is secure, my paddle doesn’t have any cracks in it and that my PFD is in good shape. 

I learned this lesson the hard way on another windy excursion.  I had spent a good solid hour paddling against the wind and was now looking for the payoff of a little downwinder thrill ride.  I had previously leant my SUP to a friend who apparently didn’t understand how to install the fin correctly. 

My downwinder turned out to be a lot more exciting than I bargained for as I started flying down the lake and my SUP’s tail kept fish tailing and sending me into the drink.  On one of those falls the SUP flipped over exposing that it was finless.

cold paddle boarding

Starting your paddle into the wind no matter how light it may seem is always the intelligent choice.  I’ve known many a paddler who found paddling with the wind to be so easy that they ended up going twice as far as they intended to and when they turned around to head home, they realized that they were going to have to work 10 times as hard as they had on the paddle out. 

Better to expend your energy while you are fresh and let the wind do most of the work for you on the way home.

Some of my greatest winter SUP memories are heading out on a still morning when the water is pure glass and reflects the snow on the hills.  It’s such a wonderful time for contemplation as all my cares just slip away.

I always make sure to pack a thermos full of piping hot coffee which seems to take on an otherworldly flavor when I’m done with my paddle.

In closing, I would just say that for the true SUP aficionado, there is no “SUP Season”.  With the proper gear and by taking intelligent precautions, you can enjoy the sport and the conditioning it confers year-round.