At first glimpse, a stand up paddle board looks just like a big, long surf board. It’s got a curved board-like structure with fins on the bottom. While some of the terminology and components are the same as a surf board, there are a few extra components hat every SUP paddler should know. Before you hop on a paddle board, you should learn some of the terminology. Here is a quick video on where you should stand and below is a list and description of the different lingo when referring to the parts of a standup paddleboard and their overall function.
- Nose: The front or tip of a sup board is often called the nose. When you are standing on a board and notice that water is coming up over the nose, it means you’re too far forward, so inch backwards on the board.
- Rocker: The rocker refers to the curvature of the board from the nose to the tail (tip to tip) of the board. This makes more of a difference when surfing than paddling in flatwater.
- Tail: The back or rear 12” of a SUP is referred to as the tail. The design specification of the tail is more related to surfing where edgy wide tails are used for aggressive turns while rounder tails provide smoother turns.
- Deck and Deck Pad: The top part or where you actually stand on, is called the deck. These can be flat or have a curved or domed surface. What you are actually standing is either foam, rubber, or another surface is called the deck pad and that is placed there to provide traction, paddling, and style. Traditionally, surfers use wax on their boards to provide the traction when standing and carving. When you are on a sup, you’re standing the entire time, so the deck pad acts as a cushion while floating.
- Handle: Because stand ups are so long and wide (that’s what she said) manufacturers have molded in a groove in the center of the board so that you can easily carry it under your arm. The handle is also a good indicator of where to stand.
- Bottom: The bottom of the board is simply known as the bottom. Most are flat. Some are convex in shape (curved inward) which make them faster and aids in maneuverability, but they are less stable.
- Fins and Fin Box: Just like on a surfboard, stand ups have fins on the bottom tail of the board to aid in stability, maneuverability, and staying straight. Most have a large center fin with 2 smaller fins on each side. Some paddle surf boards use a quad set up with 2 fins on each side. The slots that the fins bolt into is known as the fin box.
- Rails: The sides or edges of the board are known as the rails. When you want to paddle straight, you should paddle as close to the rails as possible. For this reason, it’s common for the rails to get dinged up from the paddle impact.
- Leash and Leash Cup: Just like surfing, the leash attaches to the rider’s ankle, so when you fall in the surf, you board doesn’t sail to shore. A leash cup is a little plastic piece in the tail of the board where the leash attaches. When paddling in flat water, leashes aren’t really necessary.
- Vent and Vent Plug: Some boards have vents that are sealed with vent plugs. Because they are made of foam, the gases in the board will expand and contract with the air temperature. Vent plugs can be removed to allow the gases to equalize during storage and to prevent damage to the board due to over expansion of the gases.
Now that you know all the parts of the board, put your knowledge to the test with a stand up paddle adventure in Laguna Beach, CA.