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Safe Supping

 What SUP riders need to know for Safe SUPping on Maui.


  • Always use a Board Leash
  • Write your name and phone number on your board
  • Never SUP farther than you can swim
  • SUP with a buddy
  • Tell someone where you are going
  • Wear a life vest
  • Take a cell phone with you (in a waterproof bag.).
  • Put your name and emergency phone number on your Board
  • Do not SUP in offshore winds
Your board is your life raft:
Your own board is the closest piece of “land”. Your board is like a little floating island that can be your savior. Boards make the best life rafts, and they are your own rescue boat, and visual signaling device. Your board can give you floatation for extended periods of time (several days if necessary), your board is also the best way to get back to shore (even if you lose your paddle you can still paddle in the prone position surfing style. Plus your huge SUP board is much more visible than just your small little head swimming in a big ocean.
Stay with your Board:
Your Board can literally save your life, but not if you let go of it. Unless someone finds your loose board and reads your emergency phone number (see previous paragraph).
When you get separated from the board:
This can happen when the board leash breaks. If you get separated try to quickly get to the board. If the board is nearby swim directly to it, don’t worry about the paddle, the board is more important. Then you can swim the board back to the paddle. Boards will float away quickly if there is any wind. Boards will usually drift faster than you can swim. If the board is drifting quickly away from you do not waste all of your energy.  Instead, try to get help attract attention by shouting to people nearby and waving your arms. Stay Calm and tread water or float if you need to.
If the shore is nearby slowly start swimming towards shore. Pace yourself because it might be harder to get to than you think. People can often float for very long periods of time to conserve energy, all night if necessary. A lot depends on your swimming skills, fitness, stamina etc. 
When SUPping beware of wind:
  • Do not SUP in offshore winds (blowing away from the land)
  • Do not SUP in Strong Winds
Offshore winds can push you away from the shore. Even a light wind can have a profound effect on a SUP paddler. When SUPing you may need to paddle constantly into the wind, just to hold one steady position.
Come ashore before the wind gets too strong. The wind tends to get stronger in the afternoons (especially on Maui), this is due to the thermal effect of the wind, that cause the tradewinds and the seabreeze effect.
Your Body acts like a sail:
Your body acts like a sail when you are standing on the board. The wind pushing on your body will push you and your board along in the direction the wind is blowing. To reduce the effect of wind on your body you might have to kneel down to reduce your surface area to the wind. When you kneel you reduce the amount of surface for the wind to catch so you can have better chance of paddling against the wind. If you cannot kneel then you can sit legs forward, if you lose your paddle you can lay down and paddle prone (surfer style), this gives you the least surface area to the wind. Sometimes it may be necessary to slide off the side of the board and swim the board to shore. Hold the nose or tail and do a side stroke swimming motion. Only do this if you have the strength to do so.
Wind on the board:
The SUP board also acts like a sail, the whole part of the board above the water also acts like a sail. So boards will also get pushed along by the wind. If you are trying to travel across the wind the board will try to turn with the wind and become very difficult to steer.
When there is wind on eth side of the board you might have to paddle constantly on the opposite side just to keep the board steering straight.
Downwinded (blown away):
When the wind gets too strong you may not be able to return to your starting point.
Many times people get blown off course and cannot return to their starting place. Instead you should have a second chance exit point. A second exit option farther downwind, in case of getting blown downwind.
If the wind is too strong just try to get back to the land. Go across the wind towards land. You may be a long way from your starting point but you will be on dry land, and can walk back or come and get the board later.
In any Emergency call 9-1-1:
If you are getting blown away or your buddy is getting blown away, call 911 for emergency assistance. Tell them your location and your description and your situation,. The 911 dispatcher will direct your information to the appropriate responders, including lifeguards, and coast guard and local boaters too. It is better to call before you get into an extreme situation, and always better to start a search or rescue before dark. Police and emergency workers do not get mad at you for calling in a problem, they do get annoyed if they are looking for someone that is already arrived back on shore that didn’t inform anyone.
When you get back to land:
When you reach dry land call your buddy and tell then you are OK maybe they are out looking for you. then Emergency responders can stop looking for you.
What to do if you find a board floating in the sea:
If you find a loose board floating in the ocean it might mean that someone is in trouble, call 911 and look of the board also has a phone number. Call that number too and see if you can locate the person. Give a description of the board and the location to the 911 dispatcher. If you are in a position to do so try to look for the person that fell off the board. Generally SUP boards will tend to blow directly downwind. They will also get pushed shoreward by wave action, try to search the immediate area and search upwind from the point where you located the board. Retrieve the board if possible. Make a note of the time and location of the board. This information will help search and rescue efforts.
Be safe and have fun

Source: Surf Club Maui Blog