While SUP has grown in popularity over the last few years, many people wonder about the differences between stand-up paddling (SUP) and surfing. Stand up paddleboarding has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. When many people think about SUP, the most comparable sport that comes to mind is surfing. Both are popular water sports that are great for people who love to spend time out in nature and on the water. The boards look very similar, and they are both to be used in water, but there are some significant differences between the two sports.
SUP is Better for Beginners
While beginners can do surfing and SUP, it is much easier to begin on a SUP. Learning to balance on a paddleboard and developing the core muscles you use in paddling is much easier to do on flat waters than in waves. It makes it much easier to develop surfing skills if you have practiced the balance and skills of maneuvering the board by starting on a SUP. This can be great for kids or people who have not worked out on the water before.
Differences in Paddleboards vs. Surfboards
Surfboards are created for surfers to lay on the board to get out past the crashing waves, then stand up quickly to ride the wave and maneuver through the barrels or crashing waves. Paddleboards are made to keep paddlers out of the water while riding on top of more calm waters and over longer distances. With each board having a different way to use them, the boards must be made differently to accommodate each rider's purpose.
Both surfing and SUP have different-sized boards you can use for different uses. SUP boards are typically more extended, heavier, and thicker than surfboards. Most SUPs are about 10-11 feet, while surfboards are generally 7-8 feet long. The decks of surfboards are smooth, shiny, and mostly flat, and most surfers add wax to help their grips on the boards. Paddleboards have a flatter, softer deck, often with padding to make it more comfortable on your knees and feet while paddling.
Different Types of Boards
Surfboards are used to go surfing, but not all paddle boards are made for paddling the same way. There are many different types of paddleboards depending on what you are using them for. Epoxy boards are harder boards and great for long-distance paddling and if you are wanting to get into SUP racing. Inflatable boards are easy to transport and durable. Soft top boards are the best for beginners and great for recreational paddling. With SUP, you can choose from various boards to best suit your needs while paddling.
The Buoyancy of the Boards
Stand Up Paddleboards are much more buoyancy and float better than surfboards. SUP riders often want to stay out of the water, and the buoyant boards make it harder for paddleboards to flip than surfboards. Surfboards need to be less buoyant because they need to go under waves when the surfers are going out to catch a wave. It is much harder to stand up on surfboards if surfers are not catching the wave. When surfers catch a wave, they are standing up and riding the wave. They do not need the buoyancy of the boards to keep them up, it is more of the body and the ride of the wave keeping them out of the water. You can use a SUP as a surfboard, but because the surfboards have less buoyancy than a paddleboard, you cannot use a surfboard as a SUP.
Where You Use Your Board
Surfing is typically done on larger waves than paddleboarders. Some SUPs can be used on waves, but these waves are usually flatter than what surfers are riding on. When using a SUP, you are most likely using your board in flatter, more calm waters than surfers. While surfers must be in the ocean to catch waves, SUP is great for areas that are not coastal. Paddleboarders can ride in the sea and paddle in lakes and rivers, making it an excellent option for inland states and regions.
Where You Get Your Workout
Whether surfing or paddling, you are primarily getting your workout in the same areas, though some areas are targeted more than others with each sport. Typically, when you are using a SUP, you are primarily using your core. Your core is what keeps your board balanced and helps stabilize your board. When you are riding the waves, you are also using your core, but you are using a lot more of your legs and back muscles, making it much more of a workout. Paddling with a paddle also gives your arms and back a great workout while stand-up paddling. While surfing and paddling with your hands and arms to get past the breaking waves, you are giving your arms a shorter but more intense workout.
Similarities in SUP and Surfing
While there are differences in paddleboarding and surfing, there are similarities in the two sports. Both boards are used in water, and both depend on balance and skill. SUP and surfing can be done at any level and are great for accommodating beginners. Both boards have different sizes riders can choose from depending on how they want to use their SUP/Surfboards. There are fiberglass hulled paddleboards designed for surfing, where you can use your paddle to help you catch waves and get out past the break.
Whether you choose SUP for a tranquil paddle upriver or a surfboard to catch some rad barrels, both are fantastic ways to spend time outdoors having fun in the sun. Stand-up paddling and surfing are great ways to spend some time in nature and get up close to wildlife. Enjoy seeing amazing sea animals and freshwater animals while spending time on your board and you may even have the chance to surf along with a dolphin or paddle with a river otter. However you choose to get out on a board, you will be guaranteed to have a great time!